If you or your loved one has recently been diagnosed with hearing loss, then you may suddenly have a number of questions (and a mix of feelings) about hearing aids.
Here we’ve answered 10 of the questions we’re asked most frequently by patients to help you learn more about today’s hearing aids.
1. What are the benefits of a hearing aid?
For starters, it should enable you to hear more easily. You’ve probably been drained by the effort of concentrating to hear. You may have more energy once hearing becomes easier.
Hearing aids can also have a protective effect on your brain (more on that later) and can improve your social connectedness. Hearing loss has a significant social impact, making it harder to communicate with the people you love and harder to keep track of conversations at work. Treating your hearing loss helps restore that sense of connection.
2. Will wearing a hearing aid weaken my hearing?
Absolutely not. In fact, the opposite is true. Wearing a hearing aid stimulates each part of your hearing system, keeping it primed and active and ensuring it continues to send signals to your brain about the sounds around you. If you’re concerned about a decline in hearing, wearing a hearing aid is one of the best things you can do to protect and maintain your hearing.
3. How does wearing a hearing aid device affect my brain?
There’s a strong link between your hearing health and your brain health. When you struggle to hear well, your brain works overtime to help you concentrate on sounds and distinguish speech.
Wearing a hearing aid makes it easier for you to hear sounds, giving your brain a rest from overwork. It also means your brain continues to be stimulated by noise.
In 2019, researchers at the University of Exeter published a study showing that people who wear a hearing aid for age-related hearing loss maintain better brain function than those who do not. People wearing hearing aids demonstrated faster reaction times, better concentration and a stronger working memory than those living with untreated hearing loss.
4. Why does the thought of a hearing aid upset me so much?
You’re not alone in feeling that. You’ve picked up on our society’s tendency to stigmatise people with hearing loss as old or impaired. And you’re not at all like that so don’t want to be thought of in that way.
As with many other stereotypes, it’s a completely unfair way to think about people with hearing loss. Thankfully, there’s a growing movement to challenge these preconceptions and that will hopefully help people to accept wearing a hearing aid more easily.
Meanwhile, give yourself time to absorb your diagnosis of hearing loss. If you’re not ready to wear a hearing aid yet, there are other ways to help you manage your hearing loss. You can also learn about modern hearing aids – you may be surprised to see how small, stylish and discreet they are now.
5. What are modern hearing aid devices like?
Nothing like the big, clunky devices your grandparents might have worn. Today’s hearing aids are now tiny and lightweight. And they’re often unnoticeable – you’d be surprised by how many people are actually wearing hearing devices.
They’re also very comfortable. When fit correctly, you’ll easily forget you’re wearing them.
In fact, rather than turning you into your grandparents, today’s hearing aids make you more like your grandchildren. They’re digital devices that can be controlled from your smartphone. That means you can adjust the settings from an app leaving other people completely unaware that you’re managing your hearing aid. You can also stream your phone calls or music to your hearing aid for better clarity of sound.
6. Do I have to keep my hearing aid in all the time?
Yes, because it’s a powerful rehabilitation tool. It’s retraining your brain to hear again. So it’s important to wear it all the time, even in quiet environments like when you’re at home reading.
At first, you may feel overwhelmed by everyday noises but your brain rapidly relearns which noises to focus on. It’ll pay more attention to speech than to the kettle, for example.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) scans show that within 10 days of wearing a hearing aid, your brain has started to adapt and ignore background noise.
It’s a similar process to moving from a quiet village to a busy city. Initially the traffic and construction sounds seem deafening but, after a short while of living in the city, you grow used to them.
7. What’s the best way to get used to wearing a hearing aid?
That’s a good question. It’s great to understand how they’re meant to work and to have realistic expectations of the experience.
Once it’s properly calibrated and fitted, you then get used to wearing it by wearing it. Recognise that you’re in an adjustment period and be patient in the early days.
And, if you feel that something isn’t right, come back. We always check in with you to see how you’re going after a hearing aid fitting. Sometimes a supportive chat is all you need to encourage you that you’re doing well. Sometimes, we’ll ask you to come back in so we can fine-tune your settings and get it working better for you.
8. Which hearing aid should I get?
The one that best suits your hearing needs. The most expensive hearing aid isn’t necessarily the right one for you. It depends on your listening needs, test results, lifestyle, and environment.
A Better Ear is an independent audiology practice, meaning we offer completely impartial advice to help you choose a hearing aid. We’re not on commission and aren’t trying to meet sales targets.
When selecting the right device for each person, we use the evidence-based clinical methodology referred to as patient-centered-care. This kind of shared decision-making is at the core of our business. We are proud of our clinical integrity and work hard to maintain it.
9. How much will my hearing aid cost?
Possibly nothing if you’re an Australian pensioner or DVA card holder. You may be eligible for a full government hearing aid subsidy.
If you do have to pay for your device, then our hearing aids range from about $1,400-$4,000 per device. A Better Ear has negotiated wholesale discounts from many device manufacturers and suppliers meaning our prices are often cheaper than other clinics.
10. Will it be worth it? My brother’s hearing aid was a total waste of time and money.
Some people are hesitant to get a hearing aid because a friend or family member has had a bad experience and ended up tossing their hearing device in the bedside drawer.
Usually, this happens if they weren’t given enough counselling and support to help them get used to wearing a hearing aid, if the device itself wasn’t the right one for them or if it was poorly calibrated and fitted.
We want you to have a positive experience so we do provide careful counselling and ongoing support. We’re independent so we don’t push any particular type of hearing aid but rather give you impartial guidance about the device most likely to help you. And we fit and calibrate your hearing aid carefully, adjusting it to suit your listening needs. We also provide ongoing support as you adjust to wearing it.
How can A Better Ear help?
If you feel ready to consider a hearing aid, then please make an appointment with us. We’ll listen to your experience of living with hearing loss, conduct a thorough hearing assessment to assess your hearing ability then, if necessary, explore which type of hearing aid device might help you without putting you under any pressure to decide right away.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances.