Hearing Aid advice

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Smoky

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I need some hearing aid advice.  I have an old one which I cannot find at the moment.  Because of my singing, especially in duets and choral settings, I am having recent problems picking out harmony, something I never had a problem with years ago.  It suddenly struck me it was my hearing causing a problem.  Rather than hunt for a 20 year old hearing aid, I decided I need to look at the new digital technology.

I would like to find something in the $1,000 - $1500 range.  I know there are some very good units selling for $4,000 but I just cannot afford to sink that much money into such a device.

My requirements are a little unusual.  I have to have a hearing aid that at least can switch over to music driven needs on occasion, but mostly be used for speech.  I am guessing that a directional (but switchable) mike would be helpful, along with the ability to either emphasize voice frequencies, or also to switch to a broadband setting.

Surely there are some of you who have wrestled with hearing aids.  It is a little scary, because there is so much hype and even scamming in the business.

I would like to settle on either an ITE or BTE type, and then get the exact make and model speced out.  Then I would go on a price shopping spree including Algodones Mexico.  I am NOT in a rush and want to collect as much advice and input as possible.

Thanks!
 

Carl L

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Things have indeed changed.  The top technology is now digital.  Here is a brief rundown from HearUSA's website which can be reached HERE.

Digital: A digital circuit is the most sophisticated circuit on the market today. This circuit is programmed through a computer and usually has at least two channels. Each channel in a digital circuit is controlled independently of the others, and controls a certain range of pitches coming into the hearing instrument. This circuit has fine tuning ability to match individual hearing requirements and filter out certain unwanted sounds. What sets this circuit apart from analog circuitry is that the sounds are processed digitally, which should result in a clearer signal. Another advantage of some digital circuits is that they analyze surrounding sounds to maximize soft speech-like sounds, while minimizing louder steady state noises, such as traffic or wind.

The outfit was offering such a unit at around $1500 each this December.  I have an appointment with them for a fitting in January.
 

Jim Dick

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Smoky,

I have the Widex Senso digital hearing aids. They are slightly older technology (read 5 years) with 3 programmable channels. The newer ones have at least 15 programmable channels! They usually work very well but I have had to get them repaired a couple of times. Now my Audiologist is trying to sell me the newer technology which were in the $3000 range. I know Chet Parks has a newer style and I'm sure he'll jump in if he sees this thread. Check to see if they still offer the Widex Sensor. Mine are the "in the ear" type as opposed to "in the canal".

The aids have really improved my quality of life. I now hear "most" everything but they can be a problem is crowds. I was told, when in a restaurant or noisy environment, sit with my back to the wall. This eliminates much of the confusing sounds that interfere with reception. I went with two aids since both ears are bad. Sometimes folks only want to buy one because they think they can still hear out of the other ear. Quite often it doesn't work out.
 

Bob Buchanan

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Smoky said:
Rather than hunt for a 20 year old hearing aid, I decided I need to look at the new digital technology.

Smoky, am wondering if you also have not had a hearing exam in those 20 years? If not, perhaps a trip to Kaiser in CA would be a good prerequisite for a new hearing aide. W/my Kaiser plan, a referral by my primary care physician was not needed -- and the exam cost me a $20 co-payment. You could have that done in Indio on your way to Pismo . . . or in Lancaster, CA.

Mine is a high frequency loss as is the case with most w/hearing problems. I hear very well until the frequencies get about 4000, then they rapidly go down hill. It was probably due to rifle and small arms fire in the Navy -- or whatever. Anyway, it seems I am also having trouble w/certain syllables. Even if someone, "speaks up", I still cannot understand certain sounds that well. The audiologist explained that syllables such as the "ph" and "f,s" are formed with the upper teeth against the lower lip, and, as opposed to throatier sounds, such as "Go" -- come out at higher frequencies. So I cannot pick them up as well. A hearing aide will help -- in that they will be louder. However, louder at higher frequencies than 4500 does me no good.

I bring this up to demonstrate that a current test may be in order if you haven't had one in some time. Also, I was warned by Kaiser of the lower priced devices we are finding in newspaper and TV ads. If you are paying less than $1,000 per ear, you are not getting a good hearing aide. More like $2,000 in todays economy and technology according to Kaiser is more like one would pay for adequate units. And Kaiser does not sell hearing aides or get kick backs from those they recommend.

And finally, please speak up at QZ -- 'cause I can't afford $4 to $6,000 for hearing aides. And if you want to go out for a fish dinner -- please write it down for me.  ;) My eyes are 20/25 w/o glasses.
 

Smoky

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Bob:

I am considering bringing my 1 kilowatt music/karaoke system.  Will that help?  :D

I do have up to date hearing charts and my loss is similar to yours.  Weapons related from the service.  I do not think mines is as bad as yours, because my dropoff begins at about 8,000.  Does not directly affect speech, but in places like a crowded restaurant, the noise fuzzes everything up.  My more serious problem is music.  My wife and I are singers.  We are in a church choir, a broadway group, and also sing karaoke.  I am beginning to have difficulty with choral harmony and duets. 

Currently I am looking at "America Hears".  They offer a $1200 32 channel aid, with noise suppression, directional miking, PC self programming, 4 programmable memories, etc.  The low price is because you buy direct from the manufacturer.  I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has dealt with this company or knows about them.

Here is the model I am considering:

http://www.americahears.com/tech/ADHS.pdf

I don't want the real tiny and more expensive models because they have less features, do to the size, and I am not very vain about my appearance.  When everything else is ugly, why worry about ears??  ;D
 

Jim Dick

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Smoky,

You are wise not going for the smallest hearing aid. The biggest problem is the speaker and microphone are smaller. It's harder to reproduce the correct sounds when they can't be captured and broadcast. One problem I have with my "in the ear" model is the wax guards. They block up frequently. It's not a problem replacing them but I have to keep asking my Audiologist to send more. :) So far they haven't cost me anything.

I dealt with an online dealer but can't remember the name at the moment. They have Audiologists around the country so the aids can be fitted and adjusted locally.
 

Smoky

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Thanks Dick!

I have talked with several people on other forums who have ordered from America Hears and every one is very satisfied.  One person went to an audiologist for the fitting, and two others fitted themselves.  One guy who fit himself said the fitting was superior to his last aid which was fitted by a professional.  Apparently the mold kits are excellent.

All the people who went with America Hears rave about the quality and the fact that they avoided the steep markups in hearing aids that go through 3rd parties.

I keep waiting to find out something negative about on line ordering, but so far it all seems very positive.

I'd also like to check Algodones prices.
 

Jim Dick

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Smoky said:
All the people who went with America Hears rave about the quality and the fact that they avoided the steep markups in hearing aids that go through 3rd parties.

Yeh but you don't get free batteries for life! ;D ;D ;D ;D

Smoky said:
I'd also like to check Algodones prices.

Can't say I've seen hearing aids in Algodones but I really wasn't looking.
 

Chet18013

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Smoky, just picked up on this thread. I've got the ResoundAIR hearing aids. I really like them and they are one of the most comfortable ones available. See:

http://www.gnresound-group.com/brands/gnresound/resoundair.htm

You should be able to get them for about $1500 each. The guy I go to keeps trying to get me to upgrade, but these fill my need nicely--I have high frequency hearing loss. I have found that you can negotiate a better price with the providers than their first quoted price--it's always 15-20% high.

Chet18013
 

Jim Dick

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Chet,

He now wants me to get the ones you have since they are less expensive because the new technology is out. ;D
 

Clay L

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Just a couple of notes.
My technology is 4 years old and better stuff is out there now, but I have 3 positions - one programmed for voice, one for the phone coil, and one for music.

Many new cell phones are hearing aid compatible. You want to make sure you get an aid with the phone coil unless the new technology makes it unnecessary. (Some now claim their feedback control makes a phone coil redundant).

The larger the aid the better the electronics and the larger the batteries - as a rule.
Larger batteries tend to last longer. I have friends with in the canal aids that say their batteries only last 2 to 3 days. The brown label batteries which are fairly large last about 9 days in my full size digital aids.

I was surprised to find that the behind the ear aids weren't really any cheaper than the ones I got. At least that was true where I bought mine.

It takes about a month or so for most people's brain to adjust to hearing stuff that they haven't heard for years. I was very annoyed with wife for rattling the newspaper right after I got mine when she wasn't doing anything different than normal!!
So hang in there and the apparent high noise level will go away as you get used to them

In any case I have found that aids have made a huge difference and I don't want to be without them.
 

Jim Dick

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Chet,

Don't feel bad. It happens to all of us. I wonder if Eric will still offer me $1000 back on each one? ;D Obviously his price is still higher than the website. May have to call and ask what his price is now. How are those with glasses? I forgot what part is over the ear. It would be nice to get rid of the wax guards! I think that is what creates the problems I've had and could eliminate some repairs. I do know I won't be without some type of aid ever again!
 

Bob Zambenini

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Clay L said:
J
In any case I have found that aids have made a huge difference and I don't want to be without them.

Clay has posted an excellent message. I am 80% hearing disabled by VA service connected which is basically deaf without hearing aids.

As you all recognize the need for hearing aids its also important to get involved in other aids which you will need  as time goes along. You need telephone devices at  home on your phone, closed caption TV, etc.. As for cell phone, you probably have to get your hearing aid but if they don't work on you cellphone you need to exchange them while in the initial grace period. Mine work great on cell phone but in past I have had some that did not and its real problem.

One of the most important points is you need to send people a signal that you are somewhat hearing impaired. The first way to that you speak a little louder toward them especially if they are people who have a 'tiny' voice, have a mustache or don't move their lips. Just raising your speaking voice sends them a signal and you will be surprised at the response. If this does not do it, you have to be bold and just tell people 'I am somewhat hearing impaired so please speak up'. You will become a better lip reader at you lose more hearing.

Along this line, a bigger in ear aid, like the half shell or a behind the ear is good because people see you have a problem and respond. Women are a big problem who hide their hearing aids in their hair not wanting people to know or men who let their hair grow to hide them.

The electronic solution only goes so far so you need to also work on these other things like where you sit, how you get people to recognize your problem quickly and that you family helps out also.

There are few quick jokes about hearing impaired that help break the ice like 'did you say dinner after sex or dinner at six'.

Bob
 

Jim Dick

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Chet18013 said:
I've never had a problem and I wear glasses 100% of the time.

Chet18013

Great. Wasn't sure how the fit on the ear even though I've seen you put them on occasionally. ;D ;D
 

Jim Dick

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Hi Bob,

My wife tells me that when I don't have my hearing aids in I naturally speak louder. When I do have them I speak very low. To me it sounds normal. When I raise my voice so she can hear me it sounds loud to me. Sitting with your back to the wall in a restaurant helps eliminate a lot of noise. 

Your statement about quick jokes actually have happened to me on occasion. Someone will say something and I completely misinterpret what ii is. Luckily Pat is usually there to correct me. :)
 

Shayne

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Heck Jim  I always sit with back to the wall,  cuz of the clean life I've led thru-out my career LOL    Remember I sold cars and RV's  so I can't trust anybody  LOL
 

Jim Dick

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Shayne,

Good move on your part! ;D ;D ;D I always tried to do that even when I could hear. I miss a lot of what's going on when I'm facing a wall! :)
 

Smoky

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LOL Jim!

BTW Algadones is loaded with hearing aid places.  I have no idea what the prices are like though, as I was searching for eyeglasses last year.  I plan to find out at QZ.  After I check Algadones out I will make my final decision.
 
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