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Getting Used to Hearing Aids ó Find the One Thatís Right for You

By Janie Rosman

(Page 1 of 2)

Beyond a television or radio programmed for the loudest setting, the challenges of caring for a person who has lost all or part of the ability to hear are challenging. Talking on the phone becomes difficult; communicating with others face-to-face is frustrating.

My dad resisted hearing devices for a long time, relieved and annoyed when we took him to the VA hospital for an auditory exam. He left armed with headphones that connected to a tiny clip-on device for his shirt or belt, plus an extension wire.

ďI can hear better when itís right by the television,Ē he told the doctor, who grinned. Mom reminded him his ears are on his head, not on the other side of the room, and yet he resisted. Try telling someone who thinks the roar of a nearby train ďisnít too loudĒ that the volume is uncomfortable for others in the same room.

Maybe Dad and others like him, including two of our neighbors, have difficulty with hearing aids because it takes time to adjust. There are various styles of hearing aides, and two different ways for them to process sounds, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Most behind-the-ear (BTE) aids are contained in a small plastic case that sits behind the personís ear and is connected by clear tubing to an earpiece ó itís easy to clean and use and is sturdy.

An ďon-the-earĒ device called mini BTE is smaller and connects to the ear canal by a thin, almost invisible tube. BTEs can have a smaller piece inserted into the ear or the traditional ear mold, and are more comfortable, are said to reduce feedback sounds and are more cosmetically appealing.

My dad didnít like in-the-canal (ITC), and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) are in tiny cases that fit partly or completely into the ear canal. Theyíre the smallest hearing aids, cosmetically appealing, and do aid hearing; yet for some, their small size make them difficult to handle and adjust, which Dad said was true for him.

All components of in-the-ear (ITE) aids are contained in a shell, which fills the outer part of the ear. Itís larger than ITC and CIC aids, and some people find them easier to handle than the smaller ones.

Some people adjust easily to new glasses while others donít, and the same holds true for hearing aids. Given the variety of styles, what is comfortable for one person may not be suited for someone else.

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