As an expert audiologist, I understand the vital role that hearing aids play in improving the quality of life for individuals with hearing loss. However, it is important to acknowledge that hearing aids, like any electronic device, are prone to malfunctions and failures over time. This is why it is crucial for individuals to have backup hearing aids readily available. In this article, we will explore the need for backup devices and discuss two recommended strategies to ensure uninterrupted hearing assistance.
The Problem with Hearing Aid Repair
Hearing aids are sophisticated devices that amplify sound to compensate for hearing loss. They consist of delicate components and are subject to daily wear and tear, exposure to moisture, and various environmental factors. Ear canals can be hostile environments for electronics. Despite advancements in technology, waterproofing, and the robustness of modern hearing aids, malfunctions still occur frequently.
When a hearing aid stops working, it can greatly impact an individual’s ability to communicate and engage with the world around them. Repairing a malfunctioning hearing aid often requires sending it to the manufacturer which can take 10-20 days. This downtime without hearing aid assistance can be frustrating and isolating for the wearer.
The Need for Backup Hearing Aids
To mitigate the negative effects of hearing aid malfunctions, it is crucial to have backup devices readily available. Backup hearing aids serve as a temporary solution while the primary hearing aid is being repaired or replaced. They ensure that individuals can continue to communicate effectively and participate in their daily activities without interruption.
Option 1: Retaining Older Hearing Aids
One cost-effective option for backup hearing aids is to retain older sets when upgrading to a new device. I, as an Audiologist, generally recommend replacing hearing aids every four years to take advantage of advancements in technology and address changes in hearing needs. By keeping the previous set, you have a reliable backup that can be used in case of primary device failure.
However, it is important to note that hearing aids have a limited lifespan. Typically, they last around 7 to 8 years before repairs become obsolete and audiologists can no longer program them effectively. Therefore, while this option provides a backup solution, it is essential to regularly assess the functionality and condition of the older hearing aids to ensure they remain viable alternatives.
Option 2: Investing in Multiple Sets
For individuals whose careers or daily lives heavily rely on optimal hearing, such as soldiers, lawyers, business people, doctors, or professionals in other fields, investing in two sets of the same hearing aid model is highly recommended. This strategy has a reasonable guarantee that you always have a fully functional backup device at your disposal.
Having two identical hearing aids offers several advantages. Firstly, it ensures consistent sound perception, as the brain adapts better to a constant stimulus. Secondly, it eliminates the need to readjust to a different hearing aid model in case of failure. This seamless transition allows individuals to maintain their productivity and performance in all situations.
It is important to consider that investing in multiple sets of hearing aids will incur additional costs. However, for those who heavily depend on their hearing abilities for their professional and personal lives, the benefits far outweigh the expenses.
Exploring Alternatives without Backup Hearing Aids
In situations where individuals do not have access to backup hearing aids and can not afford to purchase a second set, there are several alternatives that can help mitigate the challenges posed by hearing aid malfunctions. While these options may not provide the same level of customization and performance as a dedicated backup device, they can still offer temporary solutions to ensure continued hearing assistance.
1. Loaner Devices from Audiologists
One option to consider is reaching out to your audiologist to inquire about loaner devices. These would be used hearing aids that they can lend temporally to you. Audiologists often have a selection of loaner hearing aids available for their patients to use while their primary device is being repaired. These loaner devices may not be customized to your specific hearing needs and will not have custom earmolds, but they can offer temporary amplification to help you stay connected until your hearing aid is functional again.
2. Use a Generic Amplifier
Another alternative is to explore the use of a pocket talker. I cover pocket talkers in this other article on hearing aid repairs. Check it out.
Backup hearing aids are an essential component of maintaining a seamless hearing experience for individuals with hearing loss. Whether by retaining older devices or investing in multiple sets of the same model, having backups ensures uninterrupted communication and engagement in daily activities. By following these recommendations, individuals can overcome the challenges posed by hearing aid malfunctions and enjoy the benefits of improved hearing for years to come.