I’m a bit of a deaf bugger (maybe a lot :-) and require hearing aids to be able to hear well in many situations. I inherited my current pair from my father when he passed away. I had new molds made for my ears and the aids were re-programmed…literally. They were connected to a computer via wires and had their settings modified. Dad got them new in 2002 and I was fitted around 2006. At the time, they were still pretty much state of the art and there hadn’t been new developments.
Now it’s 2013 and the hearing aids are coming to the end of their life. Hearing aids generally last around 6-10 years and anything greater is exceptional. Just as well as they’re rather pricy with the current pair costing dad about $4,000 per ear. I have embarked on the process for getting a new pair, which take several weeks, and has already proven to be a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I went to see a doctor last week to get my ears de-waxed and lost hearing altogether in one ear for a few hours. While I knew logically the ear would be ok, the shock was rather upsetting. This week, I’m doing it again and have drops in my ear prior to seeing an ear specialist tomorrow. Because I was mentally prepared this time, the loss of hearing has been more comfortable.
However, this is but the first stage. Once the ears are de-waxed, I then need to see an audiologist for a full hearing test to see where my ears are at now and whether I’ve lost any hearing since the last test a few years ago. Then I need to look at what sort of hearing aid best suits and what options I like.
While there had been relatively few improvements in 2006 there have been substantial improvements since then. A big improvement is that you can now get water resistant models: one of the things I’ve been paranoid with the current pair is getting them wet. I was told to avoid such and they could only handle a few drops. Given the expense I went way out of my way to protect them and always carry a protective beanie if there’s a sudden downpour. Otherwise I take them out and restore them when inside.
Colour! My current pair are a sort of grey, ugly colour. The new models come in a variety of colours including red and blue. I’ve been very tempted by bright, red ones but have been concerned about coordinating my wardrobe around so may choose a dark blue instead. Blue would go better with my eyes too. Other options include being shock resistant, some models have a remote control to provide greater flexibility. My current pair has about 20 possible settings but I can only ever have 2 or 3 active. To change them currently, requires a visit to the audiologist. A remote control would mean I could change them myself on the spot. And so on…