For anyone with a hearing loss, a good pair of hearing aids are a real godsend.
I’ve seen many people feel grateful that they’re no longer missing out on conversations with friends and loved ones. They’re ‘part of the picture’ once again.
But some people resist taking action despite their struggle to hear.
Perhaps they’re afraid of ‘looking old’ or they’re worried about the cost. Or they simply lack information about the difference hearing aids could make to their quality of life.
I’ve also spoken to many people over the years who have ‘manual dexterity’ problems. That is, difficulty handling small objects. They worry about the difficulties they might have using their hearing aids.
Are smaller hearing aids more of a challenge for older wearers?
Developments in technology have seen hearing aids get smaller and smaller. This has been a real bonus for hearing aid wearers worried about the ‘look’ of their hearing devices. It’s also meant that the performance of hearing aids has improved tremendously.
Unfortunately, as we age, there’s a noticeable decline in the function of our hands (manual dexterity). This can be an issue when carrying out all sorts of everyday activities that need careful coordination and fine motor skills. Tasks like tying shoelaces and doing-up buttons can become a challenge.
The causes of this manual decline include:
- Osteoarthritis – age-related wear and tear of the joints; 1 in 5 Australians over 45 years have osteoarthritis; 2 out of 3 people with osteoarthritis are women.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – caused by a breakdown in the autoimmune system, this type of arthritis is progressive and can result in swollen, deformed joints.
- Muscle loss – according to some researchers, after the age of 60, people tend to lose between 20 and 25% of the strength in the hands.
- A decline in the nervous system of older adults tends to affect the amount of control people have in their hands.
- Hand tremor or ‘shakiness’ in the hands can also affect the ability of older people to complete tasks that need manual dexterity.
How to overcome ‘handling’ issues with hearing aids
Given these extra challenges, hearing professionals and the makers of hearing aids have worked hard to help people make the most of their hearing.
If you or someone you know is having dexterity issues with their hearing aids, here are a couple of ideas:
1. In-the-ear (ITE) versus behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids – which style suits you best?
Hearing aids come in various shapes and sizes. If you have some problems manipulating smaller items, you may find that an ITE hearing aid is easier to fit. Research of hearing aid wearers over 65 years shows that people in this age group often find an in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid easier to handle.
Whichever style you choose, it’s important that you’re comfortable with your hearing device.
2. Work closely with your hearing care professional to get the most from your hearing aids
Getting hearing aids can be a huge step for many people. Your hearing care provider understands that.
They’ve most likely been helping people adjust to the changes in their hearing for many years. And they’re there to help you.
A few common tasks that people sometimes have trouble with is inserting and removing their hearing aids and adjusting the volume. To help overcome these problems, it’s critical that you spend the time with your hearing clinician. Follow their instructions and then practice while you’re still in the clinic.
If, once you get home, you’re still not sure, book another appointment. The worst outcome for both you and your clinician is for you to put your hearing aids in the drawer because you can’t get them to work for you.
It takes a bit of time to get used to any new device. But if you have any concerns, you should always talk to a qualified hearing care clinician.
If you have any questions, please give us a call on 1300 970 558 to make an appointment.