The advancements in hearing aids have surpassed things of futuristic levels with the introduction of rechargeable technology.
When I first started dispensing hearing aids, the idea of someday being able to recharge a hearing aid was past the timeline of my career. And yet there it is an aid that doesn’t require the changing of batteries but recharges overnight. Not only that, but it’s tiny and has a much clearer sound than aids of just a few years ago.
I recently fit a patient with rechargeable aids, and during her fitting, she broke out in tears. This patient, let’s call her Mary, had worn hearing aids for years. She was one of the first patients I met after starting in private practice. To help paint an image here, Mary epitomizes the idea of a sweet old lady, small and frail with knotted fingers and a delicate and gentle personality. A loving husband and family of endless reach into the community. Grandkids, and great Grandkids too numerous to counts.
During her fitting, I noticed she was crying. It’s not uncommon for someone new to hearing aids to cry when first struck with the vast universe of familiar sounds being heard again, usually after many years, but Mary was not new to this sensation.
So I asked, “Mary, why are you crying?”
Her answer was a benefit of rechargeable aids I hadn’t considered until that moment…
“Frank’s been changing my batteries since I first starting wear hearing aids.” she looked to Frank who was present at her fitting, “it may be an annoying and tiresome routine, but it is something we’ve shared for so many years. After they shared a quick gaze, Frank quickly assured Mary he would be thrilled to, and I quote, “not throw any more batteries into the garbage.”
I recommended rechargeable hearing aids to Mary was not specifically because there were no batteries to change, although an obvious benefit was none-the-less. Mostly I prescribed rechargeable technology to Mary because they are vastly superior in every way to non-rechargeable aids. Rechargeable hearing aids outperform non-rechargeable aids across the board. All due to the fact, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries offer more usable power. It allows them to have a larger and more sophisticated digital processor (computer), and that processing power is utilized much better than a traditional battery.
Think of a rechargeable battery for hearing aids similar to an LED light bulb. Compared to incandescent bulbs of old, LED bulbs are brighter, come in a smaller and less delicate package, and use far less energy. Similar to what LED bulbs have done to illuminate our homes, rechargeable batteries will be doing for hearing aids.
There’s one more benefit to mention: since there’s no longer a need for a battery-shaped compartment in hearing aids, they can be made sleeker, more discreet, and slimmer in design.
During her follow up, Mary smiled from ear to ear while sharing how happy she was to “no longer feel needy while watching Frank fuss and grumble with those tiny batteries.”
This story clearly illustrates the practicality of recharging a device we use all day, every day. If we were asked to replace the batteries in our smartphones every other day, we’d think it merely preposterous. So why would we continue to do so with hearing aids? Something we rely on even more than a phone. Granted, the investment we’ve already made on hearing aids, and the thoughts around replacing them may have us complacent, or maybe better said, accepting of the chore of changing batteries.
Still, it’s time we move forward, not just for the convenience, but for better hearing.