This is often one of the first questions asked when we give talks, and it is a great question.
Hearing loss can be similar and unique all at the same time. While you may have a similar hearing loss as a friend, your listening requirements may be completely different. For example, let us look at three friends who struggle in similar situations: Peter, Paul, and Mary
Peter has always enjoyed woodworking. He spent his life building things with his hands but now struggles when in a group.
Paul is a lifelong musician and currently sings in a chorus. Music is his life, yet he struggles when in a group.
Mary worked in an office environment for most of her life. Now that she is retired she enjoys gardening and struggles when in a group.
All three have very unique backgrounds but they all seem on the outside to have the same hearing loss. They are also very unique in what they do on a daily basis. Peter needs a device that can handle the dust, and is his group at a restaurant or on a job site? Paul needs a device that will accentuate musical frequencies, and is his group the choir? Mary needs a device that will handle wind and moisture, and is her group the garden club?
Once again, unique individuals with unique requirements.
When an audiologist addresses an individual with a hearing loss, they will first look at the patient. Their concern is how the loss affects their daily life and how it can improve with better hearing. Each person’s demands on hearing aids are as different as their lifestyles. As we saw above with our three friends, their needs varied widely.
Next, the audiologist will look for a technology level and style that match the person. An outgoing, active person’s requirements will be completely different from the quiet bookworm. Dexterity and vision are also a concern, as some styles use very small batteries that are hard to handle.
Finally, the audiologist will consider a manufacturer that matches the patient. While they all make very similar devices, some have bells and whistles that better match an individual’s lifestyle. Also, the provider must consider which manufacturer will provide the best customer service for the life of the aids.
When all of this is considered, the patient and the provider make an informed choice.
In conclusion, the XYZ brand may be perfect for you — but with unique programing and possibly a different style to fit your lifestyle — or you may find the ABC brand even better. Your first step is to seek a qualified audiologist to help guide you to the proper decision.