How to Help Loved Ones Hear Better
Unhappy with existing hearing aids and wonder if newer hearing aids help?
- Bluetooth technology solves many existing problems with ease
- Understand latest new hearing aid technologies and identify which are the essential ones to meet your hearing needs
- Power requirement and suitability are more important than cosmetic appeal
- Solution varies based on individual’s hearing profile and needs
Hearing aid technologies have improved significantly over the last few years. One of the most important features that changes overall hearing aid experience is the introduction of wireless Bluetooth connectivity in modern hearing aids.
Bluetooth technology solves many existing problems with ease. Often, we hear complaints from unhappy hearing aid users saying that they still have difficulties hearing TV programs, answering phone calls even when they put on their hearing aids.
Bluetooth technology transforms the hearing aid into a wireless earbud and allows sound to be streamed directly to it. Direct wireless streaming of sound optimises the clarity of the amplified sound from TV, mobile phone, iPad, computer and the voice of a person. Once again, individuals can enjoy their favourite TV programs, listen to YouTube through the mobile phone, answer phone calls/ FaceTime with their grandchildren or friends, listen to a speaker over distance through wireless Bluetooth connectivity
Covid-19 pandemic also made us realise those with mild hearing loss will start to face difficulty hearing others during online meetings clearly. This affects work performance and relationships. This problem can also easily be overcome with Bluetooth-compatible hearing aids.
Bluetooth: nice to have or essential?
From our clinical experiences, Bluetooth connectivity is essential, not a nice-to-have feature in hearing aids. It is effective and easy to use, not only addressing the gaps in hearing lifestyles not filled by older hearing aid technology, but also suitable to be used across age groups. More importantly it is available in more affordable entry class hearing aid models, which means all users can benefit from it.
Understand what are the new hearing aid technologies available and which are the essential one to meet your hearing needs
Wireless Bluetooth connectivity, rechargeability, tinnitus masking features, CROS technology, remote accessories such as remote microphones, Roger system, mobile apps etc. are examples of new technologies available in today’s hearing aids. Much information about hearing aids is accessible online and in the market. However, we realised that many remain confused or are unsure its applications and benefits e.g. how to evaluate and select the one best suits them. This underscores the importance for one to understand both their hearing needs and what are the essential new technologies required to optimise the hearing aid outcome before they purchase the aids. This is where a qualified Audiologist who is experienced, speaks their language can help.
- a) Power requirement and suitability are more important than cosmetic appeal
Often, cosmetic appeal, cost and advanced features such as rechargeability tends to be the main hearing aid’s purchase considerations, especially for new users. However, the key considerations to consider are firstly; the hearing aid’s power requirement (directly proportional to the amount to the hearing loss condition), eardrum and ear conditions, as well as the user’s dexterity level for hearing aids handling and maintenance.
Hearing aids are mainly classified into three main categories: custom made in-the-ear, RIC (receiver in the canal) and high power behind the ear styles. The power, configuration and technologies are different for each style. Our clinical experiences made us realise that the wrong selection of hearing aid model affects not only the hearing outcome, usage, satisfaction, which may incur misconception towards hearing aids. At The Hearing Specialist, our clinical Audiologists will guide and assist you in the selection of the most suitable models based on your overall hearing condition and daily challenges, including those that may be overlooked.
Click here to understand the different models of hearing aid https://www.thehearingspecialist.com.sg/hearing-aids-hearing-solutions/hearing-aid-models/
- b) Understanding hearing loss profile and challenges
The types of hearing challenges faced by individuals differs, depending on:
- different levels of hearing loss (e.g. mild, moderate, severe and profound)
- laterality of hearing loss (e.g. single sided or bilateral hearing loss)
- configuration and types of hearing loss (flat/ sloping, conductive/ mixed/ sensorineural hearing loss)
- other listening needs and challenges e.g. ability to hear from mobile devices, hearing over longer distances
At The Hearing Specialist, we truly understand and feel the inconvenience and impacts when existing or the old hearing aids do not help much. Our Audiologists understand the importance in helping users and their family members understand their hearing needs and evaluate suitable solutions so that they can make a better informed decision on new hearing aids solutions.
Many of our users, especially those who return to upgrade their hearing aids to a newer one with suitable technologies/features shared, can really hear the difference. Not only does it sound clearer, the amount of hearing difficulties reduced significantly which greatly enhances their overall hearing lifestyle experience.
Don’t let fear gets in the way of good hearing
The current pandemic makes people more acutely aware of the importance of good hearing and urgency of managing it. During this lockdown period, many of us can only communicate with our parents through phone calls and if possible, FaceTime. Watching TV or YouTube clips through mobile phone has become the current favourite pastime activity of many, young and old. However, without good hearing, performing these activities can be challenging and stressful at the same time.
Hearing loss affects all age groups. Over the last few months, many start to cope with working from home or home based learning by harnessing online technology such as Zoom online meetings, video calls with colleagues, clients, Teachers. They found it hard to catch the words or hear clearly, even
with headphones on. It is stressful and tiring trying to manage these new norms.
The truth is our seniors have been struggling to hear the caller voice or make out the dialogues from TV dramas or news for a long time till they gave up. Hearing loss operates silently in the background but has a significant impact on communications, quality of lifestyles, relationships and more. The
saying “when someone in the family has a hearing problem, the whole family faces the hearing problem” is so true as many shared with us during the current trying times. We also know this issue is not new and it will not go away until we address it.
The struggle to hear is real. As hearing loss happens gradually over time, affected individuals learnt to get used to hearing less and manage around it.
3 steps towards a successful hearing aid experience
The fear of using hearing aids especially in seniors, whether they can achieve good hearing outcome deters many from coming forward to try. How do we go about choosing the right hearing aid and get it right from the start? Here are three pointers you should know before getting hearing aid.
1. Understand your hearing loss
Undertaking diagnostic hearing test with qualified Audiologist is the first most important step. Test results help individuals understand why they are not hearing certain sounds and correlate them with their daily hearing difficulties. Understanding the degree and type of hearing loss condition will help you identify the appropriate treatment options such as hearing amplification or medical treatment.
Over 75% of hearing loss cases belongs to the sensorineural type, caused mainly due to aging or noise induced. Such damage is often permanent, irreversible and hearing aids remain the most effective solution to improve hearing.
Hearing aid amplification remains the most effective solution for hearing loss. Recent years brought great advances in digital hearing aid technology. Let start by understanding modern hearing aids.
2. Understanding Hearing Aids: styles, technologies and selection criteria
Hearing aids come in various styles and technologies as they are designed for different hearing needs. Selection considerations include the amount of hearing loss, ear canal size/shape/condition, ear drum condition, user’s dexterity level and lifestyle needs.
Advances in hearing aid technologies improve hearing quality and also makes it easier and vomfortable to use. This encourages longer usage duration and helps the brain to relearn
sounds, leading to overall better hearing experience.
Virtually invisible, custom-made hearing aids appeared to be more
attractive because of its small size but the size also limits the amplification power and technologies that can be implemented.
The two most impactful technologies introduced in modern aids are rechargeability and wireless Bluetooth. Both these technologies are often available in behind-the-ear models where its sizes have reduced significantly compared to its predecessors.
a. Rechargeable technology
Rechargeable hearing aid not only delivers clearer, richer sound
experience with new sound processing chip. Easy to use, the key benefit
is it encourages longer usage hours which helps user to retrain their
brain to relearn sounds and noise.
With rechargeable technology, seniors no longer worry about changing or buying battery and are encouraged to
wear aids for longer periods as each full charge can last for over 20 years of usage. The longer they wear, the better their hearing gets. This is especially useful to seniors with dexterity issues.
b. Wireless Bluetooth technology
Wireless Bluetooth technology streams sounds from devices such as handphone, TV, laptop to your hearing aids automatically, after the initial setup. This not only optimised clarity of sounds, it also makes hearing effortless which makes hearing aids easy to use, even for non-tech-savvy users.
Even users with severe hearing loss can once again hear phone calls and watch TV.
Another feature desired by users is using app to personalise their hearing, all thanks to wireless Bluetooth technology. User can adjust the volume and change programs to help
them hear better in different hearing environments e.g. restaurants.
3. Understand the importance of post-hearing aid fitting support
First time hearing aid users often not aware that the post-hearing aid
fitting support is equally important to achieve a good hearing outcome.
Hearing loss usually happens gradually over the years and one often get used to not hearing sounds. Getting an experienced Audiologist involved in your hearing care journey helps optimise hearing aid amplification so you can progressively resume hearing sounds at a normal sensation level that best suit your hearing and lifestyle needs.
Online hearing aids information is too confusing/overwhelming. How do I go about selecting suitable ones for my parent/loved ones?
Online hearing aid marketing often focuses on the cost and size of the hearing aids. These two factors are likely not the main factors that determine the outcome of the hearing amplification. The following will help individuals better understand how to select suitable hearing aid solution.
The first thing to do is to consult a qualified Audiologist for a proper hearing assessment. An experienced Audiologist will be able to explain the test results in an easy-to-understand manner and help you associate your daily listening difficulties to the test results. It is important to understand the degree of impairment and which
part of the hearing mechanism is responsible for the hearing loss as some hearing impairments are reversible while others are non-reversible and require a hearing aid to improve hearing.
The degree of hearing loss will directly determine the power of the hearing
amplification required and is directly proportional to the size of the hearing aid. In general, the more severe the hearing loss, the bigger the hearing aid(s) that is required.
Discuss with your audiologist:
– your main listening difficulties and concerns
– understand why and how certain technologies are essential to improve your daily hearing needs.
Advanced technologies such as recharge-ability, wireless Bluetooth connectivity are important features in modern digital hearing aids for better hearing and enhance hearing lifestyle. Fortunately, these technologies are also present in basic performance classes of hearing aids which means you may not need to pay a high price for the high-end models to enjoy these features.
For those who prefer completely-in-the-canal invisible hearing aid, the degree of impairment, size, and shape of the ear canal are important deciding factors. An experienced audiologist will be able to advise you on the suitability and limitations. Both physical and acoustic customisation works for individual hearing needs. This is important as it will directly affect the outcome of the amplification experience. An experienced audiologist will help the affected individual and family to understand and provide advice on the customisation works that are required.
Expertise matters and this differentiates the overall hearing amplification experience.