I currently wear a Widex Senso on my left ear. It’s a power aid that hasn’t had any advancement in eight years. Yes, eight years. Neither has any other power aid on the market (at least that I’m aware of). So basically from the dawn of the digital hearing aids (after they switched from analog), power aids have NOT changed one bit. I gradually accepted it because when it came time to upgrade five years ago, I got yet another Widex Senso: The exact same brand, model, everything, just an little newer!
I blame cochlear implants. When every doctor or audiologist is pushing people to switch to cochlear implants, there isn’t much of a market for power aids. This is frustrating for me. I’m sure it’s even more so for those who can’t get a cochlear implant or choose not to for whatever reason.
So you can imagine my excitement when my audiologist tells me there’s a new power aid on the market with NEW technology! (I’ll get back to this) Not only that but it’s BLUETOOTH. It is a Phonak Naida.
I have been thinking about getting a Smartlink with my cochlear implant, which is approximately a cool 2k. It’s both bluetooth and FM compatible. For a little extra, I can get a boot for my hearing aid and be all hooked up bilaterally. However if I get the Naida, I don’t have to pay extra (and I’m overdue for a new aid anyway)
As far as the technological aspect goes, the Naida allows you to hear “S” and “SH”. With power aids, that has to be turned off. Often with severe-to-profound hearing the high frequency receptors in the ear are so severely damaged that they often cause distortion when stimulated. The distortion is enough to screw up what you can hear. With the Naida, sound is actually condensed onto the lower frequencies which means you can hear those sounds now, they would just stimulate different receptors.
Today I decided to call a friend up on my cell phone. I’ve been having a difficult time with the cell phone – worse than I thought it should be, and have generally been avoiding it. I decide I would do something radical and try hearing with my implant. That didn’t work so well. I heard the first two sentences, but not well since it wasn’t louder than the background noise. I turn it to T-switch which makes it worse. I finally just switch it over to my hearing aid. I’m playing around with the implant while I’m doing this. I decide I would just turn it on with the setting that reduces background noise. So I have my cell phone pressed up against my left ear, my hearing aid side, and my implant on my right ear. Lo and behold, I’m understanding her a lot better. Not only that but she reveals to me that she’s no longer having to yell into the phone for me to hear her. I am some how able to improve my understanding of her by using my implant that’s on the opposite side of my head! How that works, I don’t quite get… but it works.
Wow… just wow. I am so glad.
The Lyric is a hearing aid that is completely in the canal. It doesn’t look like you can take it out on your own (I could be wrong!). It looks like you have to go into see the audiologist every 120 days for either a replacement or a new battery. He or she takes it out and puts it back in. There are probably two reasons why this hearing aid is not for me.
1. I ENJOY the silence. It’s a comforting feeling to be able to take off my hearing aid at the end of the day and drift off into blissful sleep. No thunderstorms or leaky facets can penetrate my range of hearing while that hearing aid is not in my ear.
2. I have the lovely “power aid”. While technology has advanced (and the sparkles and colors have been added – such as the Brite hearing aid for your neighborhood’s friendly flesh-tone alien) for the crowd that is not yet FDA eligible for the cochlear implant, the hearing aids for my range of hearing has been virtually advance-less. As a matter of fact, the last time I went in to try on a new hearing aid, there wasn’t anything new on the market and I ended up just getting the same hearing aid that I had before. I gather that this “Lyric” is probably not going to be strong enough for me. It would make sense, because there isn’t that much of a hearing aid market for my hearing loss any more – mostly everyone is turning towards the cochlear implants. At least they’re somewhat colorful 🙂