How to address the three most common challenges with handling hearing aids

Reading Time: 3 Minutes
13.04.2022

As hearing care professionals (HCP), we know that our work requires a deep understanding of each client’s needs and expectations when it comes to improving their hearing. We help our clients build confidence and reassure them that they are making the right decision to treat their hearing loss.

A common uncertainty that new users may face is how to handle the hearing aids, especially when sensory aspects and other factors become obstacles. In this blogpost, I will address three common challenges that many users face, and how we as HCPs can help solve them.

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Sight

It’s a good idea to ask your clients to handle their hearing devices in a well-lit room as all parts of the hearing aids need to be visible. New hearing aids come with left and right colour markings. Remember to mark the hearing aids before handing them over to your clients.

Touch

To help clients get as much as possible out of their hearing aids, you should spend some time during the appointment on explaining and training them on how to handle their devices. Some clients may suffer from tactile difficulties caused by, for example, arthritis. This can make it difficult or almost impossible to insert and operate the new instruments. The challenges can include changing the battery or pushing the button to change the program or volume. Therefore, it is of key importance that you assist the client in choosing the right hearing aid style to fit their abilities.

ITE devices have a simple fit which can be customized with a pull-out string, a canal lock and raised control elements for improved tactility. BTE models may call for two hands to achieve the correct placement. The new rechargeable models offer a good alternative to changing small batteries. The buttons on the back of BTE instruments may be difficult to feel, which can cause frustration when trying to adjust the volume or program. In this case, the Bernafon EasyControl-A app can be applied instead of the buttons.

Cognition

Hearing loss can be accompanied by cognitive problems, which means that clients may require more time and effort to adapt to using new hearing instruments (Davis, et al., 2016). This additional challenge will most likely impact the consultation process as well. Your recommendations and instructions may not be remembered, and items may be used incorrectly or lost. Therefore, it’s essential to openly address client concerns such as: ‘Can I handle a hearing aid properly?’,’ Who will help me, if I forget the details?’ and ‘What would be the best solution for me?’

Clients may also express anxiety about losing their hearing aids. In this case, demonstrating the ‘find my hearing aids’ feature in the Bernafon EasyControl-A app can help ease this concern. It’s a good idea to ask new clients, and especially those demonstrating cognitive challenges, to bring a significant other with them to their appointments.

In addition, by spending a sufficient amount of time on each consultation and providing guides to take home, the clients may feel better supported and more confident.

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Understanding the client

There are always multiple ways to solve a problem regarding the handling of hearing aids, and other difficulties that users encounter. Not all methods will work for everyone. My best advice is to get to know your clients, in order to better determine how to help them. Showing the clients that you understand their worries, and that you are able to help them, will consequently build trust, and help them gain confidence in themselves each step of the way.

References

Davis, A., McMahon, C. M., Pichora-Fuller, K. M., Russ, S., Lin, F., Olusanya, B. O., Chadha, S., and Tremblay, K. L. (2016). Aging and hearing health: the life-course approach. The Gerontologist, 56(S2), S256-S267. Doi: 10.1093/geront/gnw033

 

About the author:

Christian Apel
Christian Apel, Hearing Aid Acoustician
As a Hearing Care Professional, Christian works within the Audiology team in Bern. He has many years of experience working in clinics in Germany and Switzerland. In his spare time he enjoys the visual arts and actively participating in a variety of sports. He likes to visit exhibitions in museums and galleries and enjoys cycling in the Swiss countryside.