Buying hearing devices isn’t like buying a flat screen TV. Hearing devices are not just electronic devices, but rather a rehabilitative treatment, requiring long-term commitment to their use. Understanding this fact, and that fit and follow-up are equally as important as the hearing device itself, will go a long way toward increasing your satisfaction with your purchase. That is why the hearing professional you choose is so important. His or her skills at programming, fitting and follow-up counseling are keys to your successful adjustment to hearing devices.
Fitting: The programming of your new hearing devices should not only reflect the results of your audiogram, but also replicate your personal preferences to ensure your hearing is natural sounding and optimal. Tests should be completed during the fitting phase to verify that speech understanding has improved. In other words, improvement in overall communication effectiveness should be the ultimate goal of the fitting process.
Follow up: Follow-up care plays a crucial role in your level of satisfaction. In the July 2009 Consumer Reports article, ‘Hear Well in a Noisy World,’ the author points out how critical it is that the audiologist explains what you should expect during the adjustment period. He or she should also:
- Demonstrate how to insert and remove the battery
- Review how to clean and store the device
- Help you practice putting the aid into your ear
- Help you practice using all switches and controls
- Help you practice using the telephone while wearing it
Additionally, your audiologist should set a follow-up appointment within a few weeks of receiving your hearing devices and outline a routine care and maintenance schedule. This maintenance schedule should include clearly-defined daily cleaning processes, suggestions for extending battery life, six-month “clean and check” appointments and an annual hearing test to gauge your hearing health and whether or not your hearing devices need to be reprogrammed.