Monday, April 30, 2018

When should you replace your hearing aids?

Over time, like any other piece of equipment used on a daily basis, hearing aids will break down and need to be replaced. While most hearing aids are built to last for several years, they will need to be replaced at some point. The better you take care of your investment, the longer it will last. But no pair of hearing aids will last forever. 
At Coastal Audiology, we want you to get the most out of your investment but we also don't want you "throwing good money after bad." At some point, we have done all we can to extend the life of your hearing aids and it will be time to upgrade them. Here are some guidelines for when it may be time to so. 


  •  Your hearing loss changes

Annual hearing exams are vital to determine if your hearing needs change, as well as for having your hearing aids fine-tuned to adjust for any changes. Your hearing test is your "prescription". It is how your Audiologist fine tunes your devices to match your hearing loss. While we at Coastal Audiology will recommend something that gives you a little "room to grow", we cannot predict future hearing loss. More severe changes in your hearing can often mean that a new pair of hearing aids are in order. At Coastal Audiology, we specialize in advanced diagnostics and believe that your hearing problems are unique and you deserve an individualized plan of care and be recommended a device that will best suit you, your hearing loss, and lifestyle. 


  • Technology changes

Hearing aid technology is constantly evolving, just as it is for cell phones, computers, and other modern devices. In the last several years, advances in hearing aid technology include wireless connectivity to phones and other devices as well as enhanced speech-in-noise detection. Most of of the "Big 6" manufacturers now have direct-to-iPhone hearing aids with their own apps for connecting to cell phones, allowing users to adjust volume, change programs, choose favorite location settings, stream phone calls, listen to music and more--all through your hearing aids! Moreover, hearing aids are not only advancing but also are becoming less expensive. A lower-priced hearing aid today is very likely to have a wider frequency response and better fidelity. While you may be comfortable with your old pair of hearing aids and reluctant to change, you may be surprised by the latest improvements – and function – of digital hearing aids. 

  • Lifestyle changes

Your lifestyle can change in countless ways and indicate that it’s time to consider a new pair of hearing aids. Perhaps you need hearing aids that are easier to handle because you have arthritis or dexterity problems, more power because you’ve retired and now require less directness, or you’ve taken up a healthy activity such as swimming that requires waterproof hearing aids. Or, you’ve taken up jogging or hiking – activities that may require hearing aids that can stand up to more rugged environments.

  • New insurance benefits

Most insurance companies that have a hearing aid benefit will allow members to upgrade their hearing aids every two to five years and can help offset the cost of a new pair of hearing aids. In other words, there may be no better time for trying out the latest in hearing aid technology. And, as previously mentioned, improvement in lower-priced hearing aids have made high-quality hearing more affordable for everyone. Additionally, need-based hearing aid assistant programs often allow hearing aid wearers to re-apply to their program every 3-5 years. If they still meet the qualifications, this can give even those on a tight budget access to newer, more sophisticated hearing aid technology. 

  • Frequent repairs are needed

Like your car, repairs to your hearing aids can become more frequent as they age. Another point to consider is that most manufacturers stop making parts for hearing aids after five years. For those that do make parts, repairs for hearing aids over five years old are significantly more expensive and the work is warrantied for no more than about 6 months typically. While plunking down money for a new set of hearing aids may be tough, repairing the same hearing aids over and over can get quite costly when the reliability goes down. At this point, it’s important to weigh your options. The price of repairing an out-of-warranty pair and buying a new pair of hearing aids is probably not that much different, especially if insurance benefits are helping to pay for a new pair. Again, you may be perfectly comfortable with your current pair of hearing aids and would rather opt for repairs rather than buying new. Your best bet is to talk with your Audiologist to see if replacing your current pair is your best option.

At Coastal Audiology, we want you to hear your best for your lifetime. Sometimes that means upgrading your hearing aids. Sometimes that means using assistive listening devices in conjunction with your hearing aids. Other times it means aural rehab classes or programs that help you learn to use your hearing to it's full capacity. Improved hearing is a journey--not a destination. We would love to partner with you and be your tour guide on your journey to better hearing for a lifetime!

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