Choosing the right hearing care provider

According to data from the National Institutes of health (NIH), only about one-fifth of people who could benefit from hearing aids actually use them (NIH, 2013).  Many current hearing aid users lived with untreated hearing loss for up to ten or more years before finally addressing the problem.  Several reasons contributing to hesitation to make this life change include cost of the hearing aids, stigma associated with hearing aids, and fear that the hearing aids will not be beneficial.  An ongoing clinical dilemma is the degree of dissatisfaction experienced by hearing aid users with severe hearing loss, even with the highest levels of advanced hearing aid technology. 

Many hearing aid candidates who decide to enter into a venture of hearing aid rehabilitation for their hearing loss don’t achieve their potential benefit due to lack of use of their devices.  The process of adjusting to listening in a new way is a challenging one, because it takes time for the brain to relearn its auditory processing strategy.  Many previously unheard environmental sounds are now available that can be distracting and may appear to interfere with meaningful sounds. The stress of this process can be frustrating for the new user and many decide to give up and abandon their efforts to integrate their hearing devices into their lifestyle. 

Optimal hearing aid use extends far beyond the advanced features and expensive technology contained in today’s modern hearing aids.  While these features are certainly important and beneficial, that benefit is only applicable if the patient is using their hearing aids.  A true understanding of the benefits and limitations of your hearing aids is only possible when your hearing care provider is invested in the rehabilitation component of hearing aid fitting.  Intervention for your hearing loss is far more than just purchasing a device, such as a refrigerator or a laptop.  Studies have shown that successful hearing aid experiences occur when both patient and provider are committed to the client-patient relationship, and when the provider is able to understand the needs of the client and instruct them accordingly (LaPlante-Levesque, et. al., 2013).

The technology and signal processing available in today’s hearing aids is far superior to anything previously available or known to the hearing industry.  Your success with your current or future hearing aids, however, is less reliant on the name brand or exact circuitry contained in your hearing aids and more dependent on your rapport with and level of support from your hearing care provider.  It is crucial that you feel comfortable asking your provider for help when you are having trouble adjusting to your hearing aids, and that the provider is always willing to assist you.  This should be part of your decision making process in selecting a hearing care facility or provider to take care of your hearing needs. 

Patient access to information, counseling, technical support, and empathetic care is crucially important, in conjunction with obtaining the optimal product for better hearing.  When you pursue assistance with the Hearing Center at Bridgewater Falls, our team of professionals has an intricate and systematic process of determining your needs and supporting you through the process of acclimating to a new way of listening.  The fitting, orientation, follow up, and long-term maintenance of your hearing devices is welcomed and encouraged as part of your experience with us.  We strive to make a difficult and challenging adjustment into an exciting adventure for you.  Please call us today for more information!

References:

LaPlante-Levesque, A., Jensen, L.D., Dawes, P., Nielsen, C. (2013).  Optimal hearing aid use: Focus groups with hearing aid clients and audiologists. Ear and Hearing, 34 (2), 193-202.  doi: 10.1097/AUD.0b013e31826a8ecd.

NIH (2013). Hearing aid Fact Sheet. Retrieved from: https://report.nih.gov/nihfactsheets/ViewFactSheet.aspx?csid=95