If you ever wonder how often you should replace your hearing aids, know that many factors could determine the answer. It can be in response to technical issues with your hearing aid or it can be due to changes in your hearing needs.
Consider these five things before replacing or upgrading your hearing aids:
- Are your hearing aids functioning like-new?
- Are your hearing aids meeting your current hearing needs?
- Are your hearing aids in line with your hearing prescription?
- Can you benefit from newer hearing aid technology?
- How will you pay for your upgrade or replacement?
Let us address each question, one at a time.
1. Are your hearing aids functioning like-new?
In order for you hearing aids to perform optimally, they require regular maintenance and occasional technical repair. Since they are worn on the body, they are subject to the elements just like anything else on your person. They are exposed to the elements and weather systems, which means they can get wet, dirty, dusty, et al. Also, at least part of the hearing aid sits inside of the ear canal. In most people, the ear canal contains moisture and earwax so there is much concern for maintaining cleanliness and function for the hearing aid.
Your hearing aids may require a lot of maintenance or none at all, depending on the model of hearing aid you wear, your activity, and even your ear canal (moisture levels vary from person to person). You could wear your hearing aids for years without ever needing maintenance, or your hearing aids could require several visits to a technician due to things like moisture, dust, or earwax. These are elements that can prevent your hearing aids from performing at their best because they inhibit the function of microphones, speakers, and other technical components that make up the device. Often, a solution is as simple as replacing a filter on a speaker or cleaning debris away from the microphone. Difficult cases may involve sending the hearing aid to a factory for disassembly and an internal cleaning, while more severe cases might require a replacement of most or all internal parts.
2. Are your hearing aids meeting your current hearing needs?
What are your current hearing needs, you ask? Try this exercise. Write down five specific hearing needs you have right now. This list can be different from when you had your initial hearing aid fitting with your hearing doctor. It can vary from needing to hear on the phone in the car (on speakerphone, of course) to following along in a conversation with a friend at a party. Each of these hearing needs should be addressed with the current hearing aid you are wearing.
Did your hearing aids pass the test? Or could you be in the market for upgraded technology?
3. Are your hearing aids in line with your hearing prescription?
In order to benefit fully from your hearing aids, they must be set to your hearing prescription. Your audiologist or hearing instrument specialist will calculate your hearing prescription, but generally, more hearing aid volume is prescribed for worse hearing levels. Your hearing health care professional will perform a “real-ear measurement” to measure the sound levels produced by your hearing aids while you are wearing them to verify that they are meeting your prescription. Without this measurement procedure, it is not possible to ensure that your hearing aids are functioning properly.
Once it has been confirmed that your current hearing aids are not meeting you hearing prescription, you should ask your audiologist to improve your fitting. It might require an adjustment of the digital programming, cleaning, or repair of the hearing aids. If the fitting cannot be improved, then your hearing needs may have outgrown your current hearing aids and you should consider a replacement.
4. Can you benefit from newer hearing aid technology?
Reflect on your hearing needs from the list you made.
For example, taking calls in the car for business and personal matters is important to you, but you have a hard time understanding voices over the speakerphone. There are hearing aids on the market currently that are equipped with Bluetooth technology that can stream calls directly to your hearing aids simultaneously. This could possibly be a solution for you.
Make an appointment with your hearing doctor to discuss how or why this could be a good upgrade or replacement for you. They can talk with you about pros and cons of newer technologies, the cost, and if a newer model will actually fit your hearing needs.
5. How will you pay for your upgrade or replacement?
Lastly, you must consider the financing of a potential upgrade or replacement. If you are receiving funding from the government or other third party, there could be limits on how often you can replace your hearing aids. Medicaid regulations for hearing aids in Florida dictate one per ear every three years, while Idaho is restricted to one hearing aid in a lifetime. You can find information about Medicaid regulations on the Hearing Loss Association of America’s (HLAA) website.
Private insurance companies are a bit more conservative and are less likely to help cover costs of new hearing aids. You can find more information about financing your hearing aids at AARP or ask your hearing health care professional for recommendations.
Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center
If you’re in the market for an upgrade, Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center is here to help! We provide comprehensive hearing health services and can help you determine whether a new pair of hearing aids would benefit you. Contact us today to learn more.