BEST Way to Upgrade Your Hearing Aid Technology

If you've had your hearing aids for more than four years, there's a good chance that new technology would be much better than your old ones or at least have new features that would improve your experience overall.

BEST Way to Upgrade Your Hearing Aid Technology

If you've had your hearing aids for more than four years, there's a good chance that new technology would be much better than your old ones or at least have new features that would improve your experience overall. Since most big hearing aid companies release new models every two years, the technology available now would be two generations newer than what you're wearing.


But even if hearing aid technology is newer and has more features to help you hear better, that doesn't mean you should spend a few thousand dollars on upgrading.


But how do you know if the new technology in your hearing aid is better than the old technology? I want to show you the six-step process I use with all my patients who are upgrading to new hearing aid technology to ensure they benefit more from it than they did from their old devices.


Step 1: Figure out whether your hearing aids need to be updated.


Every company that makes hearing aids handles sound in a slightly different way. I like it when my patients upgrade to a newer version of the same brand of technology they were already using. And if my patient's brain is already used to how the brand handles sound, there's no reason to switch them to another brand.


But there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if a hearing aid feature is only available in one brand and my patient wants it, we'll have to switch to that brand. It would also make sense if they weren't happy with that older technology. At that point, it would make sense to jump ship and try a different brand. I also tell my patients to choose new hearing aids with the same or higher technology as they were using before.


We want to improve hearing performance, so it wouldn't make sense to go backward regarding technology. For example, if you are currently using Oticon OPN 1 devices and want to upgrade to the Oticon More line of hearing aids, you would not want to go with an Oticon More 2 or an Oticon More 3. It would help if you got an Oticon More 1 instead.


Step 2: Set amplification to the same level as before.


Once you know which hearing aids you're upgrading to, you should match the amplification settings of the new hearing aid to the amplification settings of the old hearing aid.


To do this, I measure my patient's old hearing aid settings with Real Ear Measurements to ensure I know exactly how much amplification they've been getting for the past four or more years. This way, I can match that level of amplification with the new hearing aids.


We do this by comparing the best amplification settings of this patient's old hearing aids to the programming of this patient's new hearing aids. The goal is to match the patient's previous hearing aid settings by overlapping the best amplification settings of this patient's old hearing aids with the programming of this patient's new hearing aids. So, if the new hearing aids seem to help, we know it's because the new technology is better than the old technology.


Step #3: Create new amplification settings


I suggest making at least one new custom program inside the new hearing aids that we can use to match the patient's hearing loss prescription exactly. Usually, with new hearing aid technology, we are better able to meet hearing loss prescriptive targets.


Step #4: Activate new digital features


Next, we include the new digital features that hearing aid makers usually add every few years, such as better noise reduction, directionality, impulse noise reduction, Bluetooth capabilities, tap controls, and even other wireless accessories.


Some of these new features might not help you hear much better, but it's still fun to have new features on your new hearing aids that improve the whole experience.


Step #5: Try it out for at least two weeks.


Once all this programming is done in your new hearing aids, you can take them home and use them in your everyday life. It doesn't do you much good to just try out hearing aid technology in the office because that's not how you live your life. Also, it takes the brain about two to four weeks to get used to new settings for amplification, so it's almost impossible to make an assessment right there in the office on the same day. You should take those things home and let your brain get used to them to get the whole experience.


Step #6: Perform validation outcome measures


Before you leave the hearing practice, you should think of a few particular listening situations that you can use to figure out how much help the new hearing aid technology is giving you. We call this "performing hearing aid validation." So, you'll have a better idea of when the new hearing aid technology is helping you and when it isn't.


It would be best if the hearing professional avoided general questions like, "How does that sound?" to figure out how well your hearing aid works. Or "Do you feel like you're hearing better?". Much better is to use a validated outcome measure to track your progress, like the Client Oriented Scale of Improvement or the Abbreviated Profile of Hearing Aid Benefit. These procedures will help tell if a new technology gives you more benefits than your old one.


If you want to update your hearing aids, keep these steps in mind. They are undoubtedly the best way to judge how well your new technology meets your hearing needs.


Video transcript

Video transcript

Hi guys, Cliff Olson, doctor of audiology and founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona. And in this video, I'm talking about how to identify the best time to upgrade your hearing aid technology, coming up. If you were to ask 10 different hearing care professionals when is the best time to upgrade your hearing aid technology, you would likely receive 10 different answers. Some may tell you after your manufacturer warranty expires, and others may tell you that you should upgrade your technology after a predetermined amount of time. There are good reasons for most of these recommendations, because most of them have at least some merit, but I wanna spend some time discussing what I think are the five best ways to identify if now is the best time for you to upgrade your hearing aid technology. But before I get into each one of these reasons, if you could do me a huge favor and click the like button, it really helps out my channel because it gets these videos in front of a broader audience. And while you're at it, if you have not yet hit that subscribe button, go ahead and do that as well, because that ensures that you never miss one of my new videos. That being said, I really appreciate it, now let's get into each one of those reasons. The first reason you should consider upgrading your technology is if you lose your hearing aids, or if you damage them beyond the point that they can be repaired. Now, I know that this may seem like a no-brainer, but during the pandemic, we saw more loss and damage claims than we have ever seen before. So if you pay your deductible, you can actually get a replacement set of devices that are the exact same make and model. But if you've already used your loss and damage claim, then you cannot use it again through the hearing aid manufacturer, which means that this may be a really good time to actually upgrade your technology. The second reason you should consider upgrading your hearing aid technology is if the cost of repairs is becoming prohibitively expensive. Just like an older car that may need constant repairs, hearing aids can get to the point where the cost of upkeep on an older hearing aid could be better spent if it was invested in a newer piece of technology that doesn't need to be repaired as much. At some point, you have to realize that that money would be better invested in a newer set of technology rather than putting band-aids on your old hearing aids. The third reason you should consider newer hearing aid technology is if your hearing aids are over the age of four years old. Is it possible to continue using hearing aids past the age of four years old? Of course, the answer to that is yes. There are a lot of individuals who use older hearing aids successfully, especially if they've had consistent preventative maintenance performed on their hearing aids by their hearing care professional. However, it is typically around this four year mark where hearing aid technology has advanced significantly enough where you would notice a significant difference between the newer hearing aids and your older hearing aids. This naturally leads me into the fourth reason why you may want to consider upgrading your hearing aid technology, which is when there is a major feature improvement that has never been done before. Throughout history, there have been a number of major feature upgrades to hearing aids. For instance, in the mid 1990's, we saw the release of the first 100% digital hearing aid. In the early 2000's, we saw the release of the first receiver in canal hearing aid. And in 2013, we saw the release of the first Bluetooth compatible hearing aids that could stream audio directly from a smart device into your hearing aids, without an intermediary device. Each of these major feature improvements would have justified upgrading your hearing aid technology, even if your hearing aids were significantly less than four years old. Well, we just saw another major feature improvement with the development of the M&RIE receiver by ReSound, today's video sponsor. To provide you with some context, the vast majority of hearing aids that are dispensed today are what we like to call receiver-in-canal devices, otherwise known as RICs. The concept of a RIC hearing aid is that a portion of the hearing aid actually sits behind your ear where it has the battery, the microphones, and the computer chip that processes the incoming sound. It then has a wire that goes down into your ear canal, which has a receiver on the end of it that is inside of your canal, think of this receiver as the speaker. The microphones collect the sound, the chip processes the sound, and then the sound is sent into your ear canal to the receiver, where it is amplified for you to hear better. The biggest disadvantage of this style of hearing aid is that the microphones actually sit behind your ears, which means that you lose all of the benefits of the pinna effect. The pinna effect provides a variety of different benefits when it comes to hearing, including being able to identify where sound is coming from, helping you focus on that sound and helping you hear more naturally in a background noise situation. Now, if you wanna learn more about the pinna effect, then I highly recommend that you check out my more detailed video, where I discuss the pinna effect that I will link in the description. The reason that the new M&RIE receiver on the ReSound ONE hearing aid should make you consider upgrading your technology is because it solves this problem of losing the pinna effect by taking the microphones from behind your ears and putting them back inside of your ears. M&RIE actually stands for microphone & receiver in ear. And it's pretty amazing how ReSound figured out how to include this microphone on the back of a receiver that goes entirely inside of your ear canal. Some of the real-world benefits of taking these microphones and placing them back inside of your ears include better speech understanding in noise capability and reducing listening effort versus traditional microphone placement behind your ear. Users also report that things sound more natural because that sound is collected inside the ear canal, as nature intended, instead of behind the ear. The crazy thing, is that this is first time in history that anyone has successfully figured out how to place a microphone inside of your ear, using a Receiver-in-Canal technology, in order to preserve the benefits of the pinna effect, and still keep all the other advanced features available in this style of hearing aid. One of the other major benefits of taking these microphones and putting them inside of your ear canals is that it significantly reduces the perception of wind noise, which can be a major problem for these traditional microphone placements behind your ears with a receiver-in-canal hearing aid. I also want to reiterate that the M&RIE receiver allows you to better localize which direction sound is coming from because it gives you back more of your natural pinna effect. This is one of the major complaints of a lot of individuals with hearing loss is that they can't identify which direction sound is coming from, but this is not a problem with the M&RIE receiver on the ReSound ONE hearing aids. Major hearing aid feature improvements like the M&RIE receiver are what make the decision to upgrade your hearing aid technology a much easier one. Hold on, I'm not done yet, because the fifth reason to upgrade your hearing aid technology is if your older hearing aid technology is no longer capable of treating your hearing loss. Hearing losses typically progress over time, which means the hearing aids that you are wearing right now may no longer be capable of optimally treating your level of loss. Depending on the type of hearing aid that you have, you may need to consider new hearing aid technology to accommodate your new level of hearing loss. This is especially true if you also need access to other assistive listening devices to help you hear better in background noise or over a long distance. Sometimes, your hearing care professional can be limited on what they can do with your existing technology if it's no longer capable of treating your level of hearing loss, which makes the decision to upgrade your technology a no-brainer. Knowing the best time to upgrade your hearing aids can be a little confusing, but it doesn't have to be. If any one of these five reasons that I just gave for upgrading your technology happens to resonate with you, then now might be the perfect time for you to upgrade your hearing aid technology, so you can start hearing your absolute best. That's it for this video. If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below. If you liked the video, please share it. And if you wanna see other videos, just like this one, go ahead and hit that subscribe button. Also, feel free to check out my website, drcliffaud.com.

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