When u look at all the technology out there from the beginning of their creation to its current status, you willl note that most technology started out large and clutsy looking and eventually the product was reduced in size BUT improved in its functioning purposes .
Look at computers, headphones, cellphones, xerox machines, fax machines, TTY’s, even televisions and radios. They all went from large to small and improved. Televisions stayed large and went to very thin as well. Now, lets look at the hearing aid. Hearing aids started out as horns, something looking like the Shofa used on the Jewish holidays.
The first real hearing aid by Sonotone with a transistor was put on the market in 1952 for $229. In fact, AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph……remember them?) gave out free transistor licenses in honor of Alexander Graham Bell. Without losing a beat, companies began producing their own aids and competing.
Acousticon put an aid out soon after for $74.50. The hearing aids were powered by batteries and worn around the waist. Could u imagine if the competition continued with prices like the ones mentioned to this day? Anyway, my point is that hearing aids have always been small, but they never quite improved and never got cheaper the way other technology has. In fact, the hearing aid price is so varied and so steep and so difficult to shop around for, that most buyers will not price them the way we do when buying a car. Not one single audiologist I’ve met or discussed with friends, have a hearing aid pricelist on their wall.
Sure, we have the directional microphones and the programming of the aids for different environments and background noise reductions. We have the options of digital, digital programming and analog. All promising maximum speech understanding. Did u ever wonder whether it was all a gimmick? I mean, after all, hearing aids don’t provide 20/20 hearing, so why make promises u can’t keep?
All I know is that when I cut the background noise out on my hearing aid, with that advantage comes the downside, the voice i’m listening to is now lower as well. Or when there are two speakers, one behind me and one in front of me, my directional mics seem to get a little ditsy and neurotic. Point being that for some reason, the hearing aid industry has changed asthetically but not really technically. They have their new state of the art micro style differences, the ergonomic designs made especially for the boomer generation who has become so vain and forgotten their roots. And I just love when a company states, u won’t even know you’re wearing them……duh! never in a million years. I am constantly reminded that I’m wearing my aid. Whether from someone’s dumb question of “are u wearing your aid today” to “is your aid working,” or whether I am experiencing feedback that day or my ears are itching from the molds.
Naturally, I’ve accepted that hearing aids are not the perfect solution but they give me the best situation for my hearing loss. I would have preferred the aids have been more miraculously improved without convincing us they are so dynamically tuned for our specific hearing loss and that our ability to hear will be a miracle. And whats with the tiny battery? How do they expect the largest population of hearing impaired people to put that little battery into that little thingie compartment? Oh yes, they came up with a solution to that, a tape attached to the battery. And don’t forget about what happens when dropping that little battery on the floor. It’s amazing to watch a group of seniors on hands and knees looking for that stinker. It’s also amazing to see how far that little battery can travel when its not even on.
I never lead anyone to believe that hearing aids are the all or nothing solution. Its just a temporary solution to a problem that can’t seem to be fixed by medical science thru other means, yet.
During this past summer, after a great deal of research, I purchased a $3,200 hearing aid. You read that sticker price correctly and that was for one aid. I tried it out for the 2 full 45 days, that was a total of 90 days due to when the rep came in to see me, she gave me a different model of the aid I was trying out that I liked better. So they gave me the aid until the one I was purchasing came through and that day was the day my next 45 days started. I landed up giving it back on day 105 (total days that I spent with this hearing aid which included the time I was loaned the model) and taking a $320 loss. But hey, in all honesty, the audiologist should get paid for all the time she spent with me and trust me, she spent at least one day a week with me. I made the decision to go back to my cheap old hearing aid.
I did learn something that I did not want to face and that was, I am truly convinced that many (not all) but many audiologists cannot be brought up to date properly due to the constant and rapid technology changes. I am also convinced that the hearing audiologist DOES NOT UNDERSTAND HEARING LOSS as in, please don’t speak to me when the aid is out of my ear because I cannot hear you and I am not a great lip reader.
In the meantime, all I want is a hearing aid that works better and works to my benefit. I couldn’t care less about all these ergodynamic state of the art designs. After all, I don’t expect anyone to say, ay Pearl, cool hearing aid you got there in your ear!