After some considerable encouragement from my family, mainly due to my increasing inability to always hear what was being said to me, I started researching Audiologists and the services they offered. I realised that I had resisted looking into the option of hearing aids due to mainly a lack of understanding of what could be achieved with modern hearing aid technology.
My research led me to look for an Audiology practice that was independent and not tied to any manufacturer. This I felt would give me the opportunity to find the very best hearing aid solution for me, rather than one that would be a compromise because that was all that was on offer from a particular provider.
Based on locality and customer reviews I found Cox Lewis Hearing and arranged to have an initial consultation. Cox Lewis Hearing had recently moved to their new premises in Little Chalfont. They had clearly made a substantial investment in fitting out the practice to a very impressive level. As I discovered the fit out was not just cosmetic but included the very highest level of testing environments and equipment. So far, I was very impressed.
The next step was to meet my Audiologist, Amrit Rehal BSc (Hons) RHAD CEC. Amrit conducted a comprehensive series of hearing and ear related tests using a wide range of high-tech equipment, all very impressive. What the testing established was that I would benefit from hearing aids, which wasn’t of course a surprise to me. But it was something that I had been avoiding admitting for some considerable time. I knew that this avoidance was partly down to how I felt people would react to me becoming a “hearing aid user”, and partly down to vanity.
The challenge for Amrit was to help me see the positive and deal with any negatives. This she did by suggesting a trial period of a pair of hearing aids from a company that she had a lot of experience of and therefore knew might suit me. The trial model was the Widex Sheer 440 MRic hearing aids which I found to be very small and discreet.
Much to my relief I got used to wearing these hearing aids very quickly; within a couple of days, which meant I was able to assess what if any aspects I would like to get from my hearing aids. There were three things that I wanted to improve on, better wind noise reduction, better music reproduction and something to address the tinnitus I was experiencing.
From my ongoing research I realised that whilst the level of technology available at different price points varied it would ultimately come down to finding the features and benefits that were right for me. Through Cox Lewis I had the option of trialling different models, and it is fair to say that at no time did I feel pressured into making a quick choice, it was clear that the process would take as long as needed to find the right solution for me. I like technology, and so wanted to find a hearing aid solution that had the right features, benefits and functionality and would deliver hearing improvements in daily use.
Finding the Right Solution
My research identified two additional contenders in addition to Widex, which were Starkey and Oticon. Looking at the technology behind each of these manufacturer’s offerings, I decided that I would like to trial a unit from Starkey, called the Starkey Genesis AI. This was a model that had only just been launched and so it was going to be interesting as to how I would find them. Like most of the hearing aids that I had been considering, this model uses Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone and an app that enables the listening experience to be changed both automatically (through the Edge Mode+) or manually by changing the Low, Middle and High frequencies.
I used the Starkey trial hearing aids in a wide variety of environments and found that compared to the Widex units, the Genesis AI coped extremely well enabling me to be much more relaxed and involved in situations which I had previously found very challenging and frustrating due to my inability to follow what was being said, without hearing aids. The Starkey units also deliver a very acceptable level of sound quality when streaming audio, which for a music lover was important. The wind noise reduction is exceptionally good, great for walks on the hills with our dog.
My “Forever” Aids
Once I was happy that I had found my ‘forever’ hearing aids, Amrit ordered my actual units; which were even smaller than the trial model. So, the small and discrete box was ticked, indeed they are so discreet that nobody, not even family or friends, noticed that I was wearing hearing aids. I have very quickly got used to hearing everyday sounds which I appreciate I simply hadn’t realised were there. I now know what I have been missing for all this time and appreciate how frustrating it must have been for the people around me to have to keep repeating things.
The big step for me was accepting that I needed to do something about my hearing loss before it got worse. Finding Cox Lewis Hearing and Amrit made the process both painless and rewarding in equal measure.