What is the Best Hearing Aid for You?
There is nothing more important to the manufacturers of hearing aids and hearing healthcare professionals than your satisfaction with their product and services. The industry is people-oriented in that it allows significant interaction and communication between the person with the hearing loss and the hearing healthcare professional to assure that they have done all things possible to meet your needs. It is important to emphasize that you have a roll to play in acquiring the best hearing aid for you. Here are some suggestions for optimizing the chances that you will be one of these delighted hearing aid wearers.
Simmply stated, satisfaction is having your needs, desires or expectations met. You have very specific needs and the purpose of the hearing healthcare provider is to find the best hearing aid for you. Thus, during the process of rediscovering your hearing it is important to determine what your needs are, what outcomes you are looking for, and most importantly, how you’ll know when you’ve fulfilled your needs. Many people go into their hearing healthcare practitioner with a vague concept of the best hearing aid for them: “I can’t hear,” or “It seems as if people are mumbling more,” or worse yet, “My wife says I don’t listen to her.”
Many hearing healthcare professionals have assessment scales designed to help you understand problems caused by your hearing loss. Once you know your problems, you can better identify the best hearing aid. This list also becomes a contract between you and your hearing care professional.
Identification of communication situations that cause you the most difficulty is a critical first step in solving your hearing loss problems. If you can describe difficult listening conditions, your hearing care provider can address the problems and develop strategies to help you manage them. If you need more information, ask for it. Some people want highly technical information about hearing aid systems and hearing loss, while others just want a brief overview of hearing aids and their function. Most providers will be happy you asked, and will give you information such as consumer literature, data sheets, brochures, videotapes and other types of instructional materials. Ask for clarification if you need it. Many complex concepts can be explained in an uncomplicated way.
Advanced hearing aid technology can now compensate for most hearing losses, but there are still millions of hearing aid candidates who are not ready to accept this fact. Is there a missing link? People with hearing loss are in different stages of readiness. At one extreme the individual is in denial about the hearing loss. If either a family member or a professional insists on hearing aids at this point, behavior is unlikely to change and most likely such a person would be dissatisfied if pursuing hearing aids.
Individuals highly motivated to improve their hearing have an infinitely better chance of success with hearing aids. Such motivated people recognize their hearing loss and are open to finding the best hearing aid for their needs. They tend to seek out relevant information related to their hearing loss and the technology needed to alleviate the hearing problem. The most highly motivated hearing aid candidates have a willingness to discuss their feelings about their hearing problem and explore some hearing options that might be available to them. When they are fitted with hearing aids, they eagerly explore their new technology, discuss problems during follow-up visits with their hearing healthcare professional, and patiently learn to adapt to their technology.
Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D. – Better Hearing Institute, Washington, DC