Hearing aids: your questions answered
Often, it’s hard to people to tell if they have a hearing loss. Here are a couple of questions, which you can ask your ageing parent to help ascertain they need hearing assistance
‘Have they got a hearing loss?’
- Can they hear people speaking, but often find their speech unclear and muffled? Then they probably have an age-related hearing loss (presbycusis). This type of hearing loss affects higher pitched sounds such as ‘s’, ‘f’, ‘sh’, so speech is often misheard, as the vowel sounds are clear but most consonants are muffled
- Do they find conversing with one person fine, but when faced with a group or a conversation in a restaurant the situation they find it very different? Most people find that they become tired of constantly ‘listening’ and feel embarrassed to ask people to repeat again and again. They often give up and just opt out of interacting in these environments
‘Can anything be done without hearing aids?’
- There are ways to alter the environment, so get your ageing parent to sit where there is less noise i.e. away from air conditioners or music systems
- Ask them to sit facing your conversation partner, so you can use non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and lip movements
- Encourage them not to be afraid of asking people to repeat, as most of the time the initial part of the word or sentence is the part that is missed
- Encourage them to try to repeat what they think they heard and the speaker will correct them if it is wrong.
If they are still have difficulty, maybe it’s time to try hearing aids?
Elderly people are sensitive about the idea of having a hearing aid.
‘I don’t want everyone to know that I can’t hear’
Hearing aids are now very discrete highly technological pieces of equipment. If you think phone technology has come a long way, then you’ll be shocked to hear how advanced hearing aids are now.
Once hearing has been measured, the information is put into the hearing aid along with the person’s age, previous hearing aid use, specific measurements of the ear canals and the hearing aid software produces an individual prescription
This is then fine-tuned by the hearing aid audiologist using feedback from the wearer.
Some hearing aids work 21 times per second analysing the environment and adjusting the settings as sounds change and move. So if your ageing parent is sitting in the kitchen speaking to your grandchild whilst the fan on the cooker, the washing machine and tap are all making a lot of noise, the hearing aid will reduce those sounds and focus on the speech
The annoying whistling sound (feedback) that old hearing aids made is now a thing of the past. The latest hearing aids are wireless devices that connect to your phone, T.V. and music system, streaming the information straight to your ears
If your elderly relative has tried a hearing aid in the past and it hasn’t helped, maybe it’s time to try again.
‘There are so many newspaper adverts and dispensers on the high street, where do we start?’
- There are two routes, NHS and private.
The NHS will provide a free basic hearing aid that will help your ageing parent to hear. They should visit their GP and they will refer them to the local service
A private dispenser will have a range of products to suit budget, lifestyle and hearing loss
Your elderly relative should be given a months’ trial where they will have the opportunity to test the aids at home and then have the aids adjusted according to the outcome
The aftercare should be included and the hearing aid should cover your hearing loss for at least five years
There are two types of private dispenser, national high street stores and independent companies
Check their qualifications: if they are audiologists as well as hearing aid dispensers, then you know your ageing parent is in safe hands. (Audiologists have specialist degrees and more experience)
If you or your elderly relative feels pressurised, then just leave the shop immediately. Remember this is a healthcare profession, not a retail store. You should feel that you will be looked after for years to come, not just while you’re buying the hearing aids
If you would like more impartial advice please contact Anchal Prasher at Barnet Hearing aids, I will be happy to help.
Anchal Prasher is an experienced Audiologist having worked within the NHS and private sector for over 10 years. She started her own hearing aid service in 2009 providing the latest hearing aid technology, assessments and advice. She also manages a new NHS hearing aid service within a group of GP practises. Anchal’s experience ranges from paediatric hearing aid fittings to balance assessments, tinnitus therapy and complex hearing loss issues. She is always at the forefront of changes within Audiology and is registered with all th Anchal Prasher BSc MSc DipCCA RHAD