Hand me down hearing aids - what you need to know

Consider these scenarios: A family member has passed away and someone wants to wear their hearing aids. Or a friend has upgraded their hearing aids and offered their old ones to you. While it may seem thrifty and sound like a good idea to wear someone else's hearing aids, it’s definitely not as simple as wearing a pair of used shoes. In this article we’ll discuss facts you should consider before moving forward with “hand me down” hearing aids.

Hearing aids are actual medical devices

In Canada, hearing aids are considered medical devices that are regulated by Health Canada. Hearing aid manufacturers are required by MDR (SOR/98-282) and ISO 13485 to keep records of the following: where hearing healthcare professional devices are sold to, who the device was fit for, and every hearing aid's warranty and repair history. The information is used to allow the manufacturer to track potential issues or inform of recalls with any given hearing aid, if necessary. In the event someone else starts wearing a particular hearing aid - the registration and any available warranty will likely be lost.

Each person is unique - so is their hearing loss

Every single person’s hearing is personal and unique. When choosing a hearing aid, the actual fit of the device and the hearing needs of the individual are taken into consideration.

Each custom hearing aid is uniquely molded and designed to fit the patient’s ear - even standard hearing aids will typically have custom ear molds. A custom fit ear mold will likely not fit in another person’s ear comfortably. A number of manufacturers will not remold a device for someone else simply because it is, in fact, a medical device. Even if the custom parts can be remolded, it may just be cost prohibitive.

When it comes to your hearing - the possibility that your particular hearing needs are the same as the original wearer is not very likely. This could mean that wearing that hearing aid may not help you. Hearing aids are fitted and programmed strictly based on the unique needs of the patient; as well as the results of audiograms and other hearing tests. For example: one thing to be aware of is the amount of “gain” or how much the device amplifies sound (makes it louder). If there is too much gain, it can be too loud for your hearing needs and could actually be dangerous and harmful to your existing hearing. 

Woman with red hair being fit with an invisible in the canal hearing aid in her right ear

The keys to success are support and service

Keep in mind that if you can physically wear the hearing aids, you still will need a hearing professional. The hearing professional will need to adjust and support the hearing aid to fit you and your needs. It is recommended that you go through a full hearing evaluation and exam. Your hearing professional will then advise you as to whether or not that particular hearing aid is right for you. If it is possible for you to wear the hearing aid, the hearing professional can adjust it for your unique set of needs. There will typically be a fee for this service - and you should also consider purchasing a support and service plan so you have the option of long term care and follow-up.

Further options

If, in fact, you end up not being able to use the hearing aid yourself, you have the option of donating them. Several charitable organizations will take hearing aid donations and allow you to use it as a tax credit. Two organizations to consider are Starkey Hearing Foundation and the Lions Club.

A hearing aid is positively a life-enhancing device that should be used to its full potential. However, hearing aids are definitely not one-size-fits-all. Like all types of different hand me downs, individual “results may vary”. 

By Starkey Canada

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