You might think by the title of this article that I am talking about earbuds or a cell phone, but I’m talking about hearing aids. As you know, technology has come a long way, and hearing aids have seemed to grow the most in the past five years. I recently had a patient bring in his mother-in-law to get the same hearing aids I fit him with the month prior. When she sat down in my office, she said immediately that she didn’t need the hearing aids that he has because they don’t have to “do all of that fancy stuff with my phone.” I couldn’t help but laugh because I know as I get older, I will want to keep things as simple as possible. The reality is that almost all prescription hearing aids have “all the fancy stuff.” I explained to her that she does not need to use any of the features of the hearing aids that she is overwhelmed by and that I do have many patients who do not use those features as well. The good news is with the prescription hearing aids you get from a provider such as myself, an Audiologist, I can turn off any of the features you want. On top of that, I can add them back if you change your mind. I can help you to use them in a way that will fit your needs and help you to communicate in the best way possible. It’s important that you discuss these wants and needs initially so that I can help you make the best decisions about your prescription hearing aids. I have listed below some of the features that you may not be aware of when purchasing hearing aids.
Almost all hearing aids are now Bluetooth-compatible. The Bluetooth allows you to pair to your phone to make minor volume control and noise reduction adjustments on your own. Some phones will allow you to stream phone calls, podcasts, and music directly into your hearing aids. It might even be possible to answer your phone by tapping your hearing aid. I have some patients who are amazed when the phone automatically connects to their hearing aids when it rings.
There was a time many years ago when I would steer a patient away from purchasing rechargeable batteries for their hearing aids. It was a great idea, but the technology wasn’t there yet. The technology has since improved, and I now welcome rechargeable batteries. I even wear a hearing aid myself that has rechargeable batteries. The charge lasts more than a day and charging them while you sleep is as simple as putting them in their case.
Some hearing aid manufacturers are using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve your speech understanding while exposed to background noise. This is one of the most common complaints for people with hearing loss and hearing aids.
Embedded Sensors for Fall Detection
Most people with hearing loss are at risk for falls. There is now technology that can detect if you have fallen and alert a preferred contact person to let them know. This not only provides a benefit for the wearer of the hearing aids, but it can give peace of mind to the family members and caregivers.
Please make sure to discuss your needs and the type of phone you have with your Audiologist, as this is an overview of features, and not every phone is compatible. Hopefully, this will help you to make an informed decision about your hearing healthcare!