What the care­giver should know about hear­ing aids

The Weekly Vista - - Community - SPE­CIAL TO THE NWA DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE

Not ev­ery­one can main­tain their level of in­de­pen­dence in­def­i­nitely. Un­for­tu­nately, many peo­ple will even­tu­ally re­quire as­sis­tance with their daily needs. Whether car­ing for a pa­tient in a long-term care fa­cil­ity or car­ing for a loved one, who needs just a lit­tle ex­tra help around the house, it is im­por­tant for the care­giver to have a ba­sic un­der­stand­ing about how hear­ing aids work for their pa­tient who is hard of hear­ing.

Hear­ing aids op­er­ate on bat­ter­ies. Most hear­ing aids op­er­ate on zinc air bat­ter­ies, which must be changed, reg­u­larly. Hear­ing aid bat­ter­ies are color-coded, ei­ther on the pack­age or on the sticker cov­er­ing the bat­ter­ies (i.e. size 10 bat­ter­ies are yel­low, size 312 bat­ter­ies are brown, size 13 bat­ter­ies are orange, and size 675 bat­ter­ies are blue). Zinc air bat­ter­ies vary in how long they will last, based on the size of the bat­tery. The smaller the bat­tery, the more of­ten they will re­quire chang­ing. While 675 bat­ter­ies could last sev­eral weeks, 13 bat­ter­ies will last just over a week, 312 bat­ter­ies are ex­pected to last just un­der a week, and size 10 bat­ter­ies will re­quire chang­ing ev­ery 3-5 days.

Gen­er­ally, the hear­ing aid will op­er­ate when the bat­tery door is closed, but when the bat­tery door is ajar, there is no con­nec­tion to the elec­tri­cal cur­rent, dis­abling the in­stru­ment’s oper­a­tion. How­ever, some hear­ing aids will have an on/off switch or a vol­ume con­trol wheel, which must be turned to an ac­tive po­si­tion, as well. The care­giver can check to see if the hear­ing aid is op­er­a­tional by cup­ping the hear­ing aid in their hand and listening for squelch. If feed­back is heard, the hear­ing aid is op­er­a­tional. If not, there may be a prob­lem with the hear­ing in­stru­ment.

More re­cent tech­nol­ogy does not re­quire bat­tery changes, as they will op­er­ate us­ing recharge­able bat­ter­ies. If the pa­tient’s case plugs into a power sup­ply, the hear­ing aids may be recharge­able. For recharge­able prod­ucts, there may be a power but­ton that must be de­pressed for three sec­onds, in or­der for the hear­ing aid to be­come op­er­a­tional.

Hear­ing aids have three ma­jor com­po­nents. The first is the mi­cro­phone. Sound must be able to en­ter the mi­cro­phone in or­der for it to be am­pli­fied. The sec­ond ma­jor com­po­nent is the am­pli­fier, where sound that en­tered the mi­cro­phone is am­pli­fied. This is an in­ter­nal com­po­nent. The third ma­jor com­po­nent is the re­ceiver, or speaker, where sound ex­its the hear­ing aid. Hear­ing aids should be cleaned daily, in or­der to en­sure that they are work­ing ef­fec­tively. The re­ceiver should be brushed ev­ery morn­ing, in or­der to re­move wax and de­bris that has dried overnight. The mi­cro­phone should also be brushed, very gently, on a weekly ba­sis, in or­der to pre­vent de­bris from block­ing sound from en­ter­ing the am­pli­fi­ca­tion de­vice. If de­bris is left to build-up, the am­pli­fied sound may be­come weak. If your pa­tient or your loved one is hav­ing dif­fi­culty hear­ing, brush­ing the re­ceiver and/or the mi­cro­phone may solve the prob­lem.

Hear­ing aids are just that – aids. They help the pa­tient to hear missed au­di­tory in­for­ma­tion; how­ever, they can­not nec­es­sar­ily clear up soft/mut­tered speech, nor can they slow down fast speech. Hear­ing aids must be checked by a pro­fes­sional on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, in or­der to en­sure that they are still work­ing ap­pro­pri­ately and am­pli­fi­ca­tion is meet­ing pre­scribed tar­gets. The pa­tient’s hear­ing should be checked at least on an an­nual ba­sis, in or­der to mon­i­tor changes in hear­ing sen­si­tiv­ity. Should hear­ing de­cline, the pa­tient’s pre­scrip­tion for their am­pli­fi­ca­tion will also change; there­fore, the hear­ing aids would need to be re­pro­grammed by a hear­ing pro­fes­sional in or­der to pro­vide the pa­tient with the best pos­si­ble ben­e­fit from their hear­ing aids.

If you have re­cently be­gun to care for a pa­tient with hear­ing loss or a pa­tient who cur­rently wears hear­ing aids, Bet­ter Hear­ing and Balance Con­nec­tion would be happy to work with you and your pa­tient to pro­vide the best hear­ing health­care pos­si­ble. Dr. Gretchen Magee, Au.D., is able to ex­am­ine the pa­tient’s hear­ing and pre­scribe the best so­lu­tions for each in­di­vid­ual pa­tient. She is also able to walk you and your pa­tient through daily care and main­te­nance for ex­ist­ing hear­ing aid wear­ers. If you or some­one you love are in need of as­sis­tance with hear­ing aids, call to­day at (855) 657-6464. They have three lo­ca­tions to bet­ter serve you: at 5 Cun­ning­ham Cor­ner in Bella Vista, at 906 NW 8th St. in Ben­tonville, and their new­est lo­ca­tion at 61 E. Sun­bridge in Fayet­teville. At Bet­ter Hear­ing and Balance Con­nec­tion, they lis­ten, so you can hear!

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