Finding Your Perfect Fit: A Guide to Choosing the Best Hearing Aid for Your Situation

Take a deep dive into choosing the right hearing aids with Keith Bonchek, an Ability Central Advisory Group member and the founder and CEO of Ability Together.

By Ability Central

25 June, 2024

 Standing at home in a modern living room, a white man wearing a red plaid flannel shirt turns his head to the side as he inserts an in-the-ear hearing aid

Guided by research and his personal experience living with profound hearing loss, Keith Bonchek, an Ability Central Advisory Group member and the founder and CEO of Ability Together, shares the best things to consider when choosing new hearing aids. 

 

Hearing loss can have a significant impact on your quality of life, affecting your ability to communicate, socialize, and engage in everyday activities. Fortunately, hearing aids offer a valuable solution for individuals with hearing loss, helping to enhance hearing and improve communication. However, with a wide range of options available, finding the best hearing aid for your situation can feel like a daunting task. In this blog post, we’ll explore some tips for navigating the process and finding the perfect fit for your unique needs based on research and my own experience as a person with profound hearing loss.

Understand Your Hearing Loss

Before exploring hearing aid options, it’s essential to understand the nature and severity of your hearing loss. Schedule a comprehensive hearing evaluation with an audiologist to assess your hearing abilities and determine the type and degree of hearing loss you have. This information will help guide your selection of the most appropriate hearing aid.

Consider Your Lifestyle And Preferences

Take some time to consider your lifestyle, daily activities, and communication needs when choosing a hearing aid. Are you active and frequently engaged in social settings? Do you have specific preferences regarding size, style, or functionality? If you are starting from scratch and don’t have any preferences, that’s ok, a qualified audiologist can help guide you. Understanding your lifestyle and preferences will help narrow down your options and ensure that you choose a hearing aid that fits seamlessly into your daily routine.

Explore Different Styles And Features

Hearing aids come in a variety of styles, ranging from behind-the-ear (BTE) and in-the-ear (ITE) to completely-in-the-canal (CIC) and invisible-in-the-canal (IIC). Each style offers different advantages in terms of comfort, visibility, and functionality. Additionally, consider features such as directional microphones, noise reduction, and connectivity options that may enhance your hearing experience in various environments. Note: the size of the hearing aid may affect the hearing aids sound quality, dynamic range, and movement in the ear canal which causes unwanted noises. In my experience with profound hearing loss, I always opt for larger, more powerful, and better-quality hearing aids.

Consult With An Audiologist

Seek guidance from a qualified audiologist who can help you navigate the process of selecting a hearing aid. An audiologist will assess your hearing needs, provide a hearing test, recommend appropriate hearing aid options, and provide valuable insights and advice based on their expertise and experience. They can also assist with fitting, programming, and adjusting your hearing aids to ensure optimal performance and comfort. Make sure not only is your audiologist qualified, but make sure they truly understand your needs. Some will only offer a few hearing aid options and will “sell” you into a model that may not work. It is OK to try a few places that sell hearing aids. If you are comfortable, talk to others about their experiences with their hearing aids, too.

Take Advantage Of Trial Periods

Many hearing aid providers offer trial periods or demo programs that allow you to test out different hearing aid models before making a final decision. Take advantage of these opportunities to experience how different hearing aids perform in real-world situations and determine which one best meets your needs and preferences. During the trial period, consider how the rechargeable or replaceable battery options are working for you. Do you have to change the batteries too frequently for your liking or does the rechargeable battery last long enough for your daily needs? Consider how easy or difficult it is for you to charge or replace batteries. Do you have arthritis or other fine motor skill challenges? Do you want your battery to last all day? Do you dislike changing batteries? All of these are questions to ask yourself while finding hearing aids that best suit you. I’ve used hearing aids my entire life and I prefer one that lasts all day long – I’m a bit of a night owl. I hope that one day they make the type of hearing aid I need with a fast-charging rechargeable battery that lasts all day. Until then, I replace batteries (too) often.

Consider Budget And Insurance Coverage

Cost is an important factor to consider when choosing a hearing aid, so it’s essential to establish a budget and explore your options within that price range. Additionally, check with your insurance provider to determine if hearing aids are covered by your plan and what costs may be associated with purchasing and maintaining them. 

Seek Feedback And Support

Don’t hesitate to seek feedback and support from family members, friends, or support groups who have experience with hearing aids. They can offer valuable insights, recommendations, and emotional support as you navigate the process of choosing and adjusting to your new hearing aids. 

Finding the perfect hearing aids for you is a journey of understanding your unique needs, exploring features, and consulting with experts. By following the process and taking advantage of trial periods, you can make an informed decision and find hearing aids that enhance your quality of life and allow you to fully participate in the world around you. With the right hearing aid, you can enjoy clearer, more vibrant hearing and reconnect with the sounds and experiences that matter most to you.

 

Final tips from my lived experience

When people suggest that you, “Turn your hearing aid up,” because they don’t think you can hear at the appropriate volume, it is not helpful. The quality of sound that allows us to hear doesn’t improve with an increased volume. It can become more distracting when the volume becomes too loud. Just because you have hearing aids, it doesn’t mean you’ll hear everything. They will enhance your hearing experience but not perfect it.

If you hear all the sounds at once, versus sounds that are a mix of different volumes and pitches, you’ll need to have your hearing aid adjusted. Hearing everything at once at the same volume is chaotic. You may need to manually lower the volume or if your hearing aid has an app feature, you may use the app to fine-tune the sounds and volume. 

From my experience, it takes 3-6 times to adjust the hearing aids to best meet your needs. Before your first adjustment, you may need to wait a week for your brain to adjust to the new sounds and then follow-up adjustments will improve your experience even more. However, if everything is loud and flat all at once, have them adjusted right away.

Wishing you much success on your journey.

Keith

 

This article was originally published on AbilityTogether.org.

 

About Keith

Keith Bonchek is an advocate, a speaker, and the founder and CEO of Ability Together, a 501(c)3 nonprofit offering disability advocacy, coaching, and accessibility consulting. Born in Los Angeles, Keith was diagnosed with mild Cerebral Palsy (CP), which was compounded with moderate to severe hearing loss. As an advocate, Keith has worked with both children and adults with disabilities as a camp counselor, an Assistant Coach for wheelchair basketball at Santa Rosa Junior College, and as vice chairman of the California Committee for the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP). To learn more about Keith and Ability Together, visit the organization's website at AbilityTogether.org

 

About the Ability Central Advisory Group

The Ability Central Advisory Group provides invaluable advice, insight, and thought leadership that helps Ability Central better execute its mission. Each member brings perspective from unique disabled communities and helps guide the philanthropic initiatives of Ability Central. To learn more about the advisory group, visit the Ability Central philanthropy website.

Tags:
Assistive Technology
Article Type:
Learning