So Many Failed Fittings

Again and again, when I talk about my hearing loss and my role as Open Ears editor, people tell me about their relative, acquaintance, or friend who has hearing loss of some degree, got hearing aids, but never wears them. This is a well-known problem in the industry, of course. I haven’t done checking out the existing research on the topic, but after an umpteenth discussion — and a failed fitting in my history — I do have a few thoughts to share.


If I go back to my personal experience, there was a major difference between my first (failed) fitting and the one that got me wearing hearing aids on a daily basis three years ago: the first time, I was sent home with “perfectly tuned” hearing aids and that was it. In my memory (though it might be failing me), no follow-up appointment. The second time, I was sent home with barely amplified hearing aids and clear follow-up instructions.

Of course there are other differences. I was 13 at the time, 25 years older at my most recent fitting. Technology had evolved. I’d had time to accept the fact I have hearing loss. As a teenager, I was “told to go”, whereas as an adult, I made my own decision.

But I can’t help but think that sending newly fitted people home with hearing aids on “full blast” is a bad idea for a first fitting. Everything I know about habituation and resistance to change screams against doing that. Baby steps is usually what it takes for lasting change, rather than huge sweeping revolutions. Remember those new year resolutions you never keep? Yeah.

Have you been fitted with hearing aids that stayed in a drawer, or do you know somebody in that situation? I’m curious as to what other people’s hypotheses are regarding the reasons for all these failures, I have to say.

6 thoughts on “So Many Failed Fittings”

  1. Interesting story. I have had a better experience than a lot it seems.

    Back in November 14 I had a hearing assessment as I was getting quite frustrated with my hearing and it had been about 5 years since the last checkup.

    I was quite shocked to discover it had deteriorated so much that I was being recommended aids. I really had no experience with hearing aids. My Dad did get fitted about 2 years ago and had a lot of problems but there’s nothing like needing them yourself to make you sit up and take notice.

    Once I accepted I had to wear aids I chose my device and the audiologist ordered them in. He said at the fitting that he would only set them at 80% as I would need to adjust to the new world of sound. He said I would need to come back in 2 weeks to get them checked and the sound level upped.

    This may be the reason why some people have a bad experience, it’s up to the audiologist to ease you into them.

    At the first fitting, I was given a ComPilot as well. However, it was faulty so I had to leave with just my aids. I retrospect, this was great. If I had to figure out all the things the ComPilot could do as well as adjusting to hearing, I might have been overwhelmed.

    Therefore I had 2 weeks to adjust and I wore them all day, everyday. I was so happy to be able to hear clearly again that I couldn’t put them down.

    The one thing that has bugged me for years is talking on the phone. I really hated it as I couldn’t hear properly and now with a cable/receiver in my ear, it was even harder and also downright uncomfortable.

    When I got my new ComPilot my world changed again. The ability to have my phone beam sound direct into my ears is so awesome.

    I suspect that if my ComPilot worked at the first fitting I would have taken much longer to adapt as there was so much more to learn.

    I guess the answer is that you need to be eased in to hearing aids to get the best experience. A good audiologist would know that.

  2. I do persevere with my HA ‘s and have been down both the NHS and private routes. Every audiologist I have met starts with the enthusiastic I can get you a pair of HA’s that will make a real difference. And they do but the challenge is they make very little difference to hearing speech clearly. I would not manage without mine although I still feel utterly let down every time I go for a new set when it doesn’t fix the communication challenges I have and maybe that’s the problem for others. For all the benefits I find them uncomfortable to wear after a while , I find that there are noises that just stress me out and it just seems the battle of trying to filter out what I don’t want to hear outweighs those benefits.but saying all that I just think the after care and help and time to sit down and really find out about your own type of hearing loss ,how to adapt to HA’s & all the little things that can help on that journey is something you just have to find out by yourself. Its absolutely baffling never mind expensive trying to work out should I get a Roger pen or is a compilot better for example….I have no idea if I am missing out on some gadget that will change my life or even if I have the best HA’s. I leave the audiologist every time having to guess if they are set at optimum and then try them in the real world & its hard to work out are they better than before they got tweaked ? I don’t blame my audiologist she is great but just too busy to really help me. So at times I am tempted to leave them in the drawer as some times I feel I struggle to hear anyway and the HA’s don’t always seem to make it better. My audiologist said not to worry than in reality they won’t and just leave them off some times. Great advice. On the upside forums like this , Facebook pages and organisations like Hearing Link have opened up my world so much I am learning more every day. Articles like this make me think and I love to see the different opinions every one has. Technology gets better every day and I take a lot of inspiration from reading about others with hearing loss when they are successful just as much as those that are honest about how it makes them feel. I would like to explode the myth that some people perpetuate though that just because HA ‘ s work great for them it must be the same for everyone else and its just laziness or shyness or fear of looking old that stops people wearing HA’s. For some people they just don’t work very well and for others they do but I would say if the after care and help isn’t there its more likely they get stuck in a drawer. Finally (!) How can listening to a load of beeps be the best way go set up a HA so you can hear conversation . beats me would love to think there is a better way ☺

  3. For my first set of hearing aids I chose analog over an early digital version because I had better word recognition with the analog. Being programmable and sturdy they lasted for ten years. Replacing them turned out to be a huge nightmare as I had grown accustomed to analog sound and digital aids sounded so different. I spent almost a year trying out aids, and ended up being able to hear less conversation with my new hearing aids, which was a huge disappointment and caused problems at home and work. For some reason I couldn’t get audiologists (3 different ones) to test word recognition when I was trying aids. I ended up having to make up a word recognition test on my own and do my own testing with these recorded words. The receptionist at the last audiologist confided that the audiologist thought I had an “obsession” with trying out different hearing aids as if it was something I was doing for fun; It’s sad when this is their reaction when all I want is to be able to hear.

  4. If you have NHS hearing aids, baby steps ain’t going to happen.

    My audiologist was lovely, but I did pretty much get given my hearing aids and told to go forth into the world. (With the offer, which I took of a appointment to see how I was getting in in six weeks).

    Fortunately I had read a lot and played with the BioAid ap, so I wasn’t totally floored by the wall of notice that hit me in the hospital cafe.

    Four weeks later somethings are starting to be a lot better, only some plastic packaging is scary, I don’t want to rip them out to fill the dishwasher and the downstairs loo doesn’t flush a rocket into orbit.

    But cafes, trains and supermarket fridges are still far too loud.

    However, the good out weighs all of this. I can hear my teen daughters in the car, I can hear quiet speakers in meetings and I wasn’t exhausted after a long trainig talk.

    I could also hear the surmount in church, as a church going athiest (believing husband, choir singing daughter and a chance to see friends), I’m not sure wether this is good or bad.

  5. Just had another interesting discussion on another FB page. There seems to be an aversion to either providing HAs with a t coil setting or turning the programme on. Can’t work out if there is a sound business reason for this or just that some people don’t think its worth hearing aid users having. It seems to be very hit & miss as to whether you get told you can actually have up to 4 programmes on your HA and thus people often leave the audio thinking that what they have been set up with is as good as it gets. Sad really.

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