The Latest Technology…

Rebecca Berger – Doctor of Audiology

We’ve noticed a disturbing trend in hearing aid sales in our area. We’re seeing vendors use terms like “the latest available technology”. We can only assume they are referencing “available” as what they carry, since many of these vendors are not selling the manufacturers’ latest technology. Often their technology is one or more generations old in order to sell at a reduced cost. In one case, the hearing aids being sold were literally obsolete!

This distinction is important because hearing aids are medical devices. (Note that term when you see various listening devices advertised without the “hearing aid” reference. They don’t have to meet the rigorous safety requirements of a true hearing aid.) Hearing Aids are pieces of technology not unlike your cell phone. If you buy an older generation of hearing aid you can purchase the technology at a reduced price, but…

  1. It’s not the latest technology. It may not have the bug fixes and enhanced features you can get with the current technology.
  2. It will be obsolete sooner. That doesn’t mean that it will fail, but manufacturers will only support technology for a limited length of time. That length of time is determined by the age of the tech, not when you bought it.
  3. Newer hearing aids use WiFi, Bluetooth and other proprietary methods of connecting to your cell phone and other devices. When you buy older generations of hearing aids, they may cease to work when you upgrade to a newer phone or sometimes, when your phone stays the same, but does an automatic software update.
  4. The cell phone applications you use to communicate with your hearing aid may be updated to run on a new operating system, while at the same time removing some support for older hearing aids.

Buying older technology can reduce your costs. In some cases, we can also sell you an older device, though we discourage it for the reasons listed above. That doesn’t mean we aren’t conscious of your budget concerns. We will help you weigh the cost differences. Even with new technology, there are various levels and cost points supported. As with anything, saving money today sometimes costs you more money down the road.

And remember, technology is not just important in the hearing aid itself, but also in the equipment used to determine whether you have a hearing loss and the appropriate treatment of that loss. The Sound Booth which we previously discussed here is just one of the pieces of tech we have to make sure your fitting is the best possible.

The other disturbing trend we’ve seen is the lack of up front and forthright discussion of the education that Audiologist have vs. hearing aid dispensers and the regulations they must follow. We’ve discussed the differences here before. (See previous post.) Wearing a lab coat does not make you a Doctor. Look for diplomas and other displays of your dispenser’s education. A Doctor of Audiology will have their degrees prominently displayed where you can see them. A Doctor of Audiology is not a medical doctor, but they are a doctorate level specialist in the field of Audiology. They have studied and worked hard to earn the right to put AuD after their name. If they are a Doctor of Audiologist, they will be proud of their doctorate and will be happy to discuss the differences in care and privacy you will receive from them. Don’t let that important difference be downplayed.

Be an informed consumer and ask the right questions.

Marshall County Senior Expo 2019

I always enjoy meeting new people and seeing current clients at the Senior Expo. This Saturday there was a blurb in the Pilot News (see right) about preparations that are underway. The date is set for October 17th at the Plymouth High School. Mark your calendar to come out and see me. As always, I will be doing hearing screenings and will have a few give-aways at our booth.

For those of you that don’t know, a hearing screening is the most basic of hearing tests. It is the best that can be accomplished in a temporary setting like the Expo, but nothing compared to what you would receive with a full hearing test at my office where I have a sound booth for optimum testing.

A screening is a great start and I’ll be able to provide you with some basic information. If warranted, a follow-up visit to my office can be scheduled. There we would be able to explore the full range of options open to you.

Hearing Aid Finder

One of the cool things things about today’s hearing aids is all the new connected technology. I’ve talked about the benefits of connecting your hearing aids to your phone here before, but did you know that you can find your lost hearing aids with a phone app? Here’s a story from a hearing aid user that lost his hearing aids at a football game and ended up finding them after sorting through a dumpster. That’s dedication! He used the hearing aid finder app to pinpoint the bag each hearing aid was in! (Find the story here.) Pretty cool stuff!

Check out the Resound site here to see some of the other interesting things you can do with the new technology.

IMS Observations

My husband, Kevin, was at an Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) event the other day and I’ve trained (educated) him to look for hearing aids and hearing protection. Ha! He said there were multiple places where you could get ear plugs and most of them included some kind of marketing connection.  Hmmmm… something for me to think about.

Hearing Aids at IMS? Not during a race!!!

He snapped a picture of the gentleman to the right, watching a race with his hearing aids on.Yeah, this is an example of one of those few times I recommend NOT wearing your hearing aid!!! Even with an existing hearing loss, you should be wearing ear protection. You could be damaging ranges of hearing where you were previously adequate.

But then he also saw this cute “Pit Crew”. He spoke to their mother before taking the picture. They got recommendations from their audiologist for the proper headphones for this application. The set the baby on the left is wearing is a hand-me-down from her older sister, so they’re old hands at this. Getting used to them at a young age not only helps make them acceptable, but also starts a life-time habit of hearing protection. Will this prevent them from ever wearing hearing aids? That’s hard to say since there are so many potential causes including just advanced age, but it definitely gives them a leg up on others.

Kevin is becoming my #1 salesperson. He actually ran into someone else from Plymouth there and in the conversation on hearing conservation, he found out that he was a hunter and had been stymied trying to find fitted hearing protection for gun use. I can do that! Kevin gave him my card, so I’m looking forward to meeting this gentleman. I’m sure I can make his situation better.

2017 Senior Expo Follow-up

Berger Audiology Booth at the Marshall County Senior Expo

Thank you to all of you that stopped to see us at the Marshall County Senior Expo this year. The venue was a bit warm considering our September heatwave, but overall we heard good things. We were pleased to meet new people and in some cases put faces to names. We’re always pleased by the reception we receive at community service events such as this.

Screening Station

For those of you that couldn’t attend, we had several give-aways. (The golf balls we collect and share are always popular along with the candy and hearing related items.)

We were given space to do hearing screenings this year too. Lots of people took advantage of that. We hope they will benefit from the information. As discussed here before, this isn’t a true hearing test and isn’t near the quality of what we can do in the sound booth at Berger Audiology. Please feel free to stop by and check out our tech! But if you want a true hearing test, we ask that you make an appointment. The courtesy of an appointment makes it much more likely that you can be seen and given the appropriate time and attention.

Thank you again to all of you that visited with us. We hope you were pleased with the interaction and attention you received.

Economical Hearing Options

Steve Martin is working on a new hearing aid prototype. They’re not as unobtrusive as the new behind the ear aids I sell, but it does target that low cost market of people who don’t think looks matter and aren’t concerned with the latest technology.

Celebrity endorsements can make all the difference. Just look at the success of the George Foreman Grille. You don’t necessarily need to have a background in the tech you decide to create to be successful.

I tend to agree with Josh to the left here though. Steve’s old friend Garrett Morris and Chevy Chase had this handled years ago with “News for the Hard of Hearing”. There’s no reason to be concerned about others in the room…

If by chance you aren’t interested in going old school and want to consider some of the latest technology. Give me a call. I’m not as funny as these guys, but I bet I can help you hear better.

Hearing Loss Affects Friends and Family

Resound.com has an excellent page on how hearing loss affects your friends and family. You can find it here.

A quote from the website that I witness almost daily is, “The older we get, the more likely we are to experience a hearing loss. In fact, more than 5% of the world’s population experience some degree of hearing loss. Oddly enough, the person with hearing loss is often the last one to realize. This why I try and ask new patients to bring friends or family along to their visits. This provides positive reinforcement and outside validation that the hearing aids are making a difference… (Some people don’t trust their own ears!)

There is a link within the Friends and Family page to another page discussing smart hearing. More and more people are telling me how impressed they are with the new technologies that link their hearing aids to their electronics, such as smart phones and smart watches. As I previously discussed here, smart apps, Multi Mics and TV streamers can further enhances the advantages of adding hearing aids to your life.

Hearing aids are much smarter than they used to be. Smart technology can allow the aids to change between pre-programmed settings on their own, adapting to the situation at hand. Some clients choose upgrades just because they want their hearing aid experience to be completely hands free.

Check out the page at Resound.com. Please give me a call with questions. I currently use some of the smart technology in my personal life so I can give you the scoop on how it works!

Smart phone image borrowed from Resound.com

Wireless Technology for Hearing Aids

I had a long time client come in to purchase new hearing aids this week. This was his first experience with the new wireless technology. He went from skeptical to blown away when I showed him how to link his hearing aids to his iPhone through the Native Hearing Aid app. He was particularly impressed when I called his phone from the other room and the conversation streamed directly through his hearing aids!

The link can do a lot of things. (See the screen capture from my phone on the right.) It can allow you to adjust your volume on each aid or switch between programs. It can allow you to use your phone as a microphone (Live Listen) in noisy situations. (It doesn’t do as well as the dedicated Multi Mic, but it can definitely help.) It shows you your battery life on each aid. Very cool stuff. If you use additional accessories with your aids, such as the Multi Mic or the TV Streamer, they can be controlled here as well.

There are also other free apps that you can download onto your iPhone to get more control of the hearing aid features, such as the ReSound Smart app which, among other things, can help you find your lost hearing aids; and the ReSound Relief app which is an app to help manage your tinnitus.

The technology continues to advance. I’ll be attending the American Academy of Audiology conference (The National Convention is in Indianapolis this year! Yea!) where I’ll get to see and experience some of the cutting edge technologies that will be coming out in next couple of years. Make an appointment to see me. I’d love to tell you about the latest technology advances.