New technology in hearing aids

  • 08 March, 2018

Source: The AGE
Published: February 18 2018

Independent audiologists at Hearservice can recommend the most suitable device.

Well-matched hearing technology can make a life-changing difference.

Audiologist Bridget Andritsos has brought patients to tears, although not due to sadness. Rather, tears of joy emerge, she says, recalling a woman who freely wept when she heard a favourite piece of classical music courtesy of a new hearing aid.

“She said, ‘I have not heard music like that in years,’ and she just started crying,” says Andritsos, who works at Hearservice, the not-for-profit hearing clinic of the Victorian Deaf Society (Vicdeaf).

“It can be quite emotional,” Andritsos says of her work. “There are many occasions when I see the relief in people’s faces when they suddenly have access to things they’ve missed out on for a long time.

“It’s rewarding when you see someone who has been really struggling in social and family situations, and you can see the relief when they don’t have to struggle as much any more.”

Hearservice provides hearing aids to hard-of-hearing and deaf clients, as well as rehabilitative treatments and counselling to those who have hearing loss.

Andritsos says she takes a holistic approach when advising patients. “The hearing assessment is only a small part of what we do,” she says. “The greater part is to work out exactly what their communication needs are. Everyone is different.”

Andritsos says some of those who experience hearing loss are not necessarily ready to have a hearing aid. They might prefer to explore alternatives to technology.

“We might teach them communication strategies they can use where they’re having difficulty,” she says.

“Or we can refer them to rehabilitation services or counselling for things they and their families can do to make things easier.”

Hearservice is not affiliated with any brand or manufacturer, which means they can offer patients a range of solutions to hearing loss. Andritsos says she bases her treatment recommendations on the specific needs and preferences of each patient.

For example, patients with dexterity issues might consider using rechargeable hearing aids, which do not have fiddly batteries requiring replacement.

Patients who love music or regularly use their phone might prefer to use hearing aids equipped with direct streaming, a technology that allows them to use their aids as a headset.

“We really try to match to the technology that’s available,” says Andritsos.

She advises those in search of a hearing clinic to choose an independent one because it means audiologists will be able to offer as wide a range of services as possible.

“The most important thing is to find an independent clinic, where people don’t get paid a commission,” she says. “It’s about building trust.

“I think it’s really important that the person you’re dealing with isn’t just there to sell you something, but is there to listen to what your needs are and try to come up with a solution that makes you feel comfortable.”

Hearservice gives patients a one-week trial of potential hearing aids at no cost. This helps patients find the technology that works best for them.

Some patients will decide to wait rather than have an aid, and Andritsos says it is part of her job to help people navigate what can be a challenging transition to a new way of life.

“I think if people decide for themselves and aren’t forced into something, the outcome is much better for them and for the professional that’s trying to help,” she says. “It’s a much smoother journey.”

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