For the 10 percent of Canadians faced with hearing loss , there is plenty of good news. With recent leaps in technology for hearing devices — and more ways available to ensure people are getting the right ones — those with hearing loss are finally being able to live life to the fullest.

A life-changing experience

Lisa Ballegeer of Rapid City, MB got her first hearing aids eight years ago and is continuously amazed at the impact they’ve had on her life. “I felt like I was drifting through life before my hearing aids,” she says. “It felt like everything was under water. Now that I have my hearing aids, I feel like I’m able to participate in life.”

Ballegeer is tapping into a new level of self-confidence she didn’t know she had. She now is participating in community associations and is discovering the joy of sound again, from listening to music at a lower volume to hearing the gentle clicks of a computer keyboard. “I love just how much my hearing aids do for me,” she says.

Ballegeer initially hesitated to consider hearing aids, as there were concerns about the cost and whether they would really work for her. But hearing is believing. “When I finally got to try hearing aids and experience the difference, I was hooked,” she says. “If more people would try hearing aids, I think those with  hearing loss would realize that hearing aids are a need more than a want.”

Ballegeer’s experience had a profound effect on her choice of career. She has since become a registered hearing aid practitioner and opened her own clinic, Innovative Hearing Technology.

Enriching the patient journey

Krista Hearn, a licensed hearing instrument practitioner and co-owner of Quality Care Hearing in St. John’s, NL, has seen many changes in the patient journey to addressing hearing loss over the 20 years she’s been in the business. She now has new technology available to meet her patients’ needs. One of the most important is the ability to let patients “test drive” hearing aids.

“Hearing loss is very personal,” Hearn says. “Being able to try hearing aids before you buy takes the stress out of the decision. It puts the patient in the driver’s seat. They get to take them home, completely risk free, with no money down and no commitment. Offering this has helped us build amazing relationships with clients. Seeing the joy and excitement when we can reconnect people with their family, friends, and the world of sound around them is a rewarding feeling.”

Advancements in technology have also helped improve patient experiences throughout the process. Chris Delagrammatikas, a hearing instrument specialist and owner of Chatham Acoustic Hearing Solution in Chatham, ON, cites the ability to put each person’s hearing test results along with real-life information into a computer for analysis as a giant leap forward.

“With the new software, we can easily identify and analyze their hearing loss and their unique listening requirements and discuss what level of technology fits the client in terms of pricing, lifestyle, and the type of environments they’re in,” he explains. “We can fit them with hearing aids to test for a week or up to a month to fully understand their needs and the positive impact hearing aids can have on the quality of their life.”

At the conclusion of the trial, clients visit their hearing professional and give their feedback. From there, the devices can be adjusted to fit their precise needs.. The newest generation of hearing devices allow information to be gathered during their trial in a wide range of listening environments.

“That information enabless us to make adjustments as needed to accommodate real-life situations and to get even more clarity for clients,” says Delagrammatikas. “It’s a great new digital health care feature.”

Breaking barriers

Technology has evolved significantly in the past few years, from trial devices,  feedback via mobile apps to smaller, barely visible hearing devices with rechargeable batteries. Many of the barriers, like fear of the unknown and stigma, that prevent those with hearing loss from getting the help they need have disappeared. With companies dedicating resources to research and innovation, it’s an exciting time to see how technology is enabling personalized solutions — improving the lives of people with hearing loss.