Below is a review I did of a very expensive ($12K) hearing aid I tried out.
In the two years since then, I have stopped using that aid, for several reasons. It was too small and too delicate for everyday living. I was in the shop getting it fixed every week — only the doctor who sold it to me wanted to mess with it and I moved across country. It got pricey to keep having it worked on.
At one point, it got wedged in my ear canal and scared me to pieces. An audiologist fished it out, but said she sees this problem with the real tiny ones all the time. I switched to a normal, digital aid – not terribly expensive. Point is, though, if you can’t hear normally, go get some help.
Baby boomers are turning 50 at a rate of one every seven seconds and about a third of us have hearing loss, according to hearing statistics. For some reason, we’ve elected to practically ignore hearing loss. Only a fifth of people needing hearing assistance actually seek help. Last month, I got on board.
I’m deaf. Have been since my twenties.
My doctor said, “You’re profoundly deaf in your left ear. Can’t hear doo-doo in your right.”
For years, as my hearing declined, I’d noticed my husband developed a terrible mumble. My kids didn’t articulate. My friends were too loud. They all talked at once. I couldn’t tell who said what.
I waltzed myself into an audiologist’s office and said, “You guys, I need help.” I wondered if people would now think of me as an old fart.
After negotiating with the Siemens Company to test their newest, highest-tech hearing instrument, I had selected audiologist Dr. Robin Pape of Spring Hill, FL.
They installed me in a soundproof room and showed me, digitally, the insides of my ears. Dr. Pape did beaucoup testing to develop a detailed printout. The Papes explained every test and graph, showing me how I compared to normal ranges.
We talked about my lifestyle and workstyle. They determined the hearing aid I had in mind was appropriate and fitted me with the Siemens Centra Active, rolled out in March 2007. They explained its capabilities. I felt like Jamie What’s-her-name, the bionic woman.
My grandma had a hearing aid – clunky and noisy. The thing weighed half a pound and could be turned up or down, sort of. It shrieked and whistled. Grandma turned it off more than she used it.
Mine – well, the instruments talk to each other, balancing the signal so my experience is always appropriate. They have 1.3 million adjustments for sound quality. They automatically squelch high wind noise. They monitor my environment, recording data to help the audiologist. They learn my environment, filtering sound that interferes with conversation. I can choose from three custom hearing modes selected with my small remote control.
These gems are rechargeable, as are many of today’s instruments, or can use regular batteries. The transmitters fit inside my ear canals – I don’t feel them. The unit over each ear is unnoticeable.
Modern hearing aids increase sounds of interest without discomfort from high intensity stuff like crinkling paper or breaking glass. It feels nice and easy, like smooth jazz.
They monitor and reduce feedback so if I move my jaw, there’s no ear-splitting scream (from the aids…). When I talk on the phone, the little buggers are real quiet. Low frequencies or specific bands of sound can be controlled or enhanced so I hear clearer consonants – speech is more recognizable.
I can actually tell where sound originates. My microphones are directional. Ever try to figure out where a siren is when you’re driving and can’t hear well enough to discern that?
With new choices in hearing aids, something for every budget and every lifestyle, we baby boomers might rethink how we deal with hearing loss. Want to know more? Try HearingResearch.org.