Don’t let battery hassles make your patients give up on hearing aids

By Gabrielle Filips

Gabrielle Filips, Au.D.
Gabrielle Filips, Au.D.

An official state website recently issued this piece of advice: “The bottom line: if during the selection process you have even one iota of doubt about your ability to handle the hearing aid, don’t consider it.”{{1}}[[1]] Information for Hearing Aids. Mass.Gov. Health and Human Services. 2014[[1]]While on the surface this may seem like reasonable advice — don’t invest in something you won’t be able to use — it also sends the wrong message.

Some individuals with hearing loss may mistakenly believe their only choice if they have dexterity or vision issues is not to get hearing aids, leaving them with an untreated medical condition that hurts them physically, psychologically, and economically.

Tiny Hearing Aid Batteries Pose Challenges

The biggest complaint when it comes to handling hearing aids is changing the batteries. Hearing aids have evolved from large clunky devices to minute precision instruments. That is great from an esthetic viewpoint, but it also means hearing aid batteries are very tiny, and so are the compartments into which they are inserted. They even pose a challenge to those with normal coordination and eyesight.

The average age of a person purchasing their first hearing aid is seventy{{2}}[[2]]Chapter Four: Hearing Aids Can Transform Your Life. Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D. Hearing Loss & Hearing Aids: A Bridge to Healing. Auricle Ink Publishers.[[2]]. Many people this age and older are experiencing other age-related conditions besides hearing loss, including:

· Vision problems (cataracts, presbyopia, macular degeneration)

· Decline of fine motor control (tremors, arthritis, neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease)

Inserting batteries smaller than a pencil eraser into devices the size of a pen cap is a daunting proposition for some, and downright impossible for others.

Fortunately, there are ways around these problems. You can advise patients to find batteries designed to dispense from their package directly into the hearing aid. Or you can suggest patients use batteries that have long tabs on the back, making them simpler to remove from their packaging and insert into the hearing aid.

So what’s the best piece of advice professionals can recommend for those who have difficulty handling tiny batteries? Rechargeable hearing aids.

Rechargeable hearing aids have many benefits

Hearing Aid Battery Charger
Hearing Aid Battery Charger Example (Courtesy Siemens).

One of the benefits of rechargeable hearing aid that you can point out to patients is that after their initial insertion (which you can do for them), they should last for a year, instead of a week, as with normal hearing aid batteries. Rechargeable hearing aids do require purchasing an additional accessory — the charger, but it is convenient and compact, fitting on most bedroom nightstands.

Chargers are easy to use. They consist of a cradle, power cable, and transformer that plugs into a standard wall socket. Patients simply open the lid and place their hearing aids in the slots in the cradle, close the lid, and the charger goes to work. Approximately six hours later, the hearing aids are fully charged and ready to work all day.

With some chargers, the hearing aids are also dried and refreshed after the previous day of wear.

Besides ease of handling, rechargeable hearing aids offer several benefits, including the following:

· They’re dependable. No more worrying that hearing aids will stop working in the middle of a meeting or special event because the batteries died. No embarrassment due to having to remove hearing aids and change their batteries in the middle of a function. Patients charge hearing aids overnight and wake up to devices that work all day long.

· They’re easy to keep clean. Most chargers include a drying function that protects them from damage due to moisture.

· They’re good for the environment. Instead of using 50 or more batteries per year, one pair of rechargeable batteries keeps them working all year.

· They’re more convenient. No more running out of batteries unexpectedly, necessitating a dash to the drugstore or your office for emergency replacements.

Are Battery Issues Holding Your Patients Back?

If you have a patient who is uncertain whether to get hearing aids due to concerns about handling tiny batteries, let them know they have alternatives. Tell them rechargeable options are available and then discuss whether rechargeable hearing aids might be the best treatment for their hearing loss.

 *title image courtesy wellnessfrominside

Gabrielle Filips, AuD, is an Educational Specialist with Siemens Hearing Instruments. Dr. Filips joined Siemens in 2008 following 12 years in private practice. She holds her doctorate in Audiology from A.T. Still University and graduate and undergraduate degrees from Illinois State University. 

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