Once you have been assessed with hearing loss, your hearing professional will have a discussion with you on your options to treat it. If you decide together to proceed with digital hearing aids, your hearing professional will present the models, styles and funding options with a recommendation to help you select the right hearing aids. After ordering the aids from a manufacturer, the next step is to “fit” your hearing aids properly to your ear and to your hearing loss. This involves programming the hearing instruments, based on a prescription, to optimally meet your hearing needs. The hearing professional will explain how to use the devices, how to put them in your ear and how to remove them, how to change or charge batteries, how to care for and clean the devices, and how to adapt to wearing them. This appointment will take about an hour. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and any written instructions, which will help you retain the information. It is also a good idea to bring a family member or close friend, if possible, to the hearing aid fitting so that they can help you remember the key information and be an ongoing support to you.
Understanding Your New Hearing Aids
When you put the hearing aids on for the first time, you may experience different emotions with the new sound that you hear. This is normal and to be expected – you may hear sounds that you simply haven’t heard in many years, and this is bound to be somewhat emotional for you. The goal of wearing hearing aids is to make everyday soft and moderate sounds more audible while still being comfortable, so the sound you hear should be both clear and pleasant. Small changes can be made to the hearing aids’ functioning at your first fitting, if there are things that you feel should be adjusted right away. The hearing professional will do additional testing to make sure that the hearing aids are giving you enough amplification where you need it. Additionally, do remember to ask any questions or discuss any concerns you may have with your hearing professional.
Providing Feedback on Your New Hearing Aids
You may be be given a short list of questions to answer about what you are hearing with the new hearing aids. Be honest about what you hear so that the hearing professional can work with you to create the best listening experience for you. Your hearing aid fitting is only a starting point; other changes to customize the hearing aids’ function to your liking may need to take place over a few appointments.
Programming your New Hearing Aids
The next step is fitting (also called programming) your hearing aids. In the past, fittings for hearing aids required the hearing aids on the patient to be wired up inconveniently to a fitting computer. Today, hearing professionals are equipped with new wireless technologies and methods to make the hearing aid programming process much easier and more effective. One of the more advanced new technologies available is Live Speech Mapping, a method of fitting hearing aids using human speech as a stimulus to help the hearing specialist adjust the hearing aids to the right settings for each wearer. Live speech mapping makes fitting appointments more interactive, and typically reduces the number of office visits required for successfully fine-tuning the hearing aids’ programming.
What Is Live Speech Mapping?
Live speech mapping is a hearing aid verification method that is used to ensure that your hearing aids are programmed optimally for your hearing loss to better fit your individual needs. With this method, small microphones placed deep in the ear canal are used to measure the response of the hearing aid in your ear, taking into account the natural and individual characteristics of both your ear and your hearing loss. For your live speech mapping appointment, you may be asked to bring along a family member or close friend to act as the “barometer” in your ability to hear live voices. Your hearing care professional will have high-tech equipment that will allow him or her to guage what you are hearing through your hearing aids on a screen in real-time. The results may also be displayed on a wall-mounted screen so that you can also see the adjustments and participate in the process. This allows both you and your family members to visualize and understand the differences that hearing aids can make in your hearing ability.
Benefits of Live Speech Mapping
Live speech mapping is known for its accuracy. Live speech mapping increases the chances that your hearing aid programming will be done correctly on the first try. Without speech mapping verification, other methods to program your hearing aid may require additional adjustments.
If you have hearing loss, you may not be able to fully understand what you can and cannot hear, and therefore, you may not understand everything you are missing. With speech mapping, you will have the ability to hear the improvements immediately, and you will be shown precisely what you can and cannot hear well in real-time.
Live speech mapping also creates a much more positive fitting experience by allowing both you and your family to see the immediate results of your hearing aids and their positive impact on your ability to hear. Both you and your family will be engaged with the hearing professional in the fitting process, making it a true partnership process.
In short, the benefits of live speech mapping are:
- Focuses on the most important hearing function of being able to effectively hear human speech
- Engages both you and your family with the hearing professional in the fitting process
- Provides immediate and tangible results
- Increases your confidence and comfort in using your new hearing aids
- Provides more accurate programming of hearing aids
- Has been shown to increase successful outcomes of fittings and reduce number of return visits
Contact your hearing health professional to find out how live speech mapping can provide you with a more enjoyable hearing aid fitting and programming experience.
Adjusting to Your New Hearing Aids
Keeping a positive attitude is one important key to success with hearing aids. Studies have shown that people who have a positive attitude do better with hearing aids over the long term. If you, as well as your spouse or family, approach your hearing aid fitting 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 hearing professional, you will get the most out of your new hearing aids.