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November 18, 2018

What’s In Your Toolbox?

When it comes to life I do not believe in shortcuts. If I decide to do something, I go all in. So, when I discovered a love of yoga, I became an instructor. If I see dust on the floor I’m propelled to vacuum and scrub the entire house. When I bake it is all from scratch. I enjoy sifting flour, tempering eggs, melting chocolate, and beating butter cream to the perfect consistency. But it doesn’t stop there as I will then spend hours decorating my cakes and cookies even though I know it will all be destroyed the second dinner is over. Of course, this level of baking enjoyment comes with expenses. Over the years I’ve purchased pans of all shapes and sizes, decorating tips, rotating bases, professional oversized decorating knifes, edging tools, cardboard bases of all sizes, dowels, and a variety of the best food colors. You would think with all this that I am baking every weekend. But I’m not. It is more of a once a month thing. But to me it is worth the investment as I get to enjoy time in the kitchen creating a masterpiece for my family and friends.

I tell this story as I feel it has many parallels to the hearing instrument selection process. When I first began practicing as an audiologist, I was given a laminated graph to help me determine the best hearing instrument for a patient based on their lifestyle. I would show the graph to a patient, they would select which scenario was most representative of their day to day life and that would determine the level of hearing instrument technology that was appropriate for them.

To give you a general idea, someone who was retired and only going out of the house a few times a month was prescribed entry level instruments. Someone who went to religious services and restaurants at least once a week and enjoyed music would be prescribed mid-level.  Finally, someone still working, going to meetings, dinners etc. was prescribed high-end hearing instruments. Years of experience has taught me that this system could not be more flawed.  

Here’s the thing. Even though I’m only going to delve into baking about once a month, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have the right tools available to me when I do. Without the correct equipment the task of making my creations becomes much more difficult and less enjoyable. Along those same lines just because my client is only getting into groups once a month doesn’t mean their hearing instruments shouldn’t have the features available to handle those situations when they arise.

What’s in your toolbox?

Imagine if your job required little personal interaction on a daily basis.  However, on the occasions when you do meet with clients it is typically with multiple people at once and almost always ends in a noisy restaurant. I think we’d all agree that this person needs a hearing instrument with the right tools for difficult listening environments as this is when they need it most.

What are these tools? Their names may vary slightly from one manufacturer to another, but their jobs remain the same. An Automatic Program Manager analyzes the listeners environment and automatically switches into the program best suited for each situation. Speech Enhancers look to increase the speech signal while reducing background noise. Directional Microphones zoom in on whomever the listener is facing while reducing other sounds around them. Variable Speed Compression works to keep sounds stable even when there maybe jarring sounds like clinking dishes or sirens. I could go on, but you get the idea. Just as you cannot easily use a hammer in place of a screwdriver you cannot use a basic hearing instrument in place of a quality device.

Without the correct technology the ability to hear conversation when background noise is present becomes much harder and a lot less enjoyable. So instead of enjoying the company of others the person with hearing loss puts all their energy into following the conversation, which leads to fatigue and over time an aversion to an otherwise enjoyable event.  Does it make sense then, to select a hearing instrument for your day to day life or for the events that are most important?

Quality vs. Quantity

It comes down to quality vs. quantity. The quality of those important moments spent with others is more important than how often they occur. We are entering that time of the year where these moments start to occur a little more often with Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Day are all just around the corner. So, if you are someone who selected an instrument based on your day to day life rather than the important events in your life, or if you are someone who has been considering hearing instruments but not yet made that call there is no better time to do it than NOW….contact Boutique Hearing.