Hearing Aid Dispensing and Fitting
Personalization and Orientation
Once you have selected your hearing aids after an evaluation, your audiologist will personalize them (or program them based on a prescription) to meet your hearing needs and demonstrate how to use them. This appointment will generally take at least one and half hours, so ensure you allot enough time. It is also a good idea to bring a family member or close friend to the hearing aid fitting so they can help remember all the information that is given and be a support to you. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for written instructions, which can help you better retain the information.
You may be also be given a short survey or list of questions to answer. Be honest about what you hear so that the hearing professional can work with you to create the best listening experience with your new hearing aids. Your hearing aid fitting is only a starting place; other changes to customize the hearing to your liking may need to take place over a few appointments.
Understanding your hearing aids
Your audiologist will spend some time familiarizing you with the hearing aids. This includes discussing how the hearing aid works, how to use the hearing aid appropriately, and how to clean and maintain your hearing aid properly. Time is spent practicing inserting and removing hearing aids, changing or recharging batteries.
Personalizing your hearing aids
Once the hearing aids have been initially programmed, the audiologist should do additional testing to determine if the hearing aids are meeting your hearing loss needs. Objective testing is called Real Ear Measurements (REM) or Probe Microphone Measurements (PMM) and is a gold standard of hearing aid fitting. Subjective testing is called Functional Testing. Additionally, remember to ask any questions or discuss any concerns you may have with your professional.
Often times hearing aids are set "below prescription" or a little softer than what is indicated by your hearing test results. This is because providing the needed amplification suddenly can be overwhelming. Remember, listening is a multistep function that includes your brain. Your brain needs to acclimate to hearing aid use. The hearing aids are automatically or manually adjusted over weeks to months to help facilitate the acclimatization.
Adjusting to hearing aids
When you put the hearing aids in for the first time, you may have different emotions about the sounds you hear. This is normal and to be expected. The goal of the hearing aid is to make everyday sounds audible and comfortable, but the sound you hear should be clear and pleasant. Small changes can be made to the hearing aids at your first fitting if there are things that you feel should be adjusted right away.
Additionally attitude is one important key to success with hearing aids. Hearing aid studies have shown that people who have a positive attitude are motivated to improve their hearing do better with hearing aids. If you, as well as your spouse or family, approach your hearing aid experience with a positive outlook you will have a much better listening experience more quickly. Keep in mind that it may take some time to get used to the sounds you were missing, and by working closely with your audiologist, you will get the most out of your new hearing aids.