Ruth Bernstein, Consumer Advocate

Sound Advice by Ruth D. Bernstein

I’m recovering from the shock of having my right hearing aid fall apart, something that has never happened to me before in the 45+ years I’ve been wearing aids. As I was getting ready to go to exercise class, something I do regularly because it helps keep my body, brain and ears in good shape, I picked the aid up to put it in my ear and found myself holding two pieces. The ear hook had separated from the aid. My immediate reaction was panic.

I have a profound hearing loss and need both aids to function, and I was really worried because I’m celebrating my 48th, oops, 84th birthday all month and wanted to make sure I could hear family and friends. As soon as my head cleared, I emailed and then called the CHC-NY appointment receptionist at (917) 305-7766. An hour later, I saw Melanie Rosenthal, an audiology student and a licensed hearing instrument specialist (HIS) trainee who is currently a member of CHC’s technical staff. I learned that my particular hearing aid has a removable tone hook that can be replaced in-house. After Melanie put a new hook in and re-tubed the mold, I was back in the hearing world and ready to celebrate!

My hearing aid in need of repair

As I rode home on the subway, I thought about how fortunate I was. This was the first time I’ve had this particular hearing aid problem. Mostly, I’ve needed new tubing. Sometimes the ear molds were blocked with wax or had to be replaced because they no longer fit properly. CHC’s Technical Department is always available to help me out.

View CHC’s technical services and walk-In hours »

As a consumer advocate and longstanding hearing aid wearer, I am delighted to share the tender loving care (TLC) rules I follow to keep my aids in good shape.

  • I ALWAYS put my aids in a small glass bowl next to my bed when I take them off. Like my keys, which I hang on the front door when I come home, I never want to have to search for my aids.
  • As I put the aids in the bowl, I open the battery cases, remove the batteries and add them to the bowl.
  • If it’s hot and humid, the aids, (minus the batteries), go into a dehumidifier for several hours or overnight.
  • Once a week, I check the ear molds to make sure they are clean and there is no wax blocking them. If necessary, I wipe down the molds and cases with a soft, dry cloth and use the small brush supplied with the aids to clean out any wax. I also check the tubing for cracks or holes.
  • When I’m away from home, fresh batteries and the streamer that works with my aids are permanent additions to my pocket book.
  • Scheduling regular (once a year) audiology and hearing aid check ups at CHC is a good way to keep my ears and aids in good shape.
  • It’s also important to have an ENT clean the wax out of your ears regularly – once a year or as often as needed to keep your ears and aids functioning well.
  • A good way to avoid panic attacks is to replace aging hearing aids BEFORE they stop working altogether. This will give you the security of having functioning spare aids in case of an emergency.
  • To find out why your aids aren’t working and avoid panic attacks, I recommend using the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association’s Trouble Shooting Tips.

View ASHA’s troubleshooting tips »

My hearing aids have been and continue to be a vital, inseparable part of my life for almost half a century (doesn’t that sound impressive!). I’m thankful they keep me communicating, are easy to use and care for with a minimum of TLC. I’m also grateful to CHC staff, who administer large doses of TLC and work hard keeping me tuned in!

Send me your favorite TLC tip »

Warm regards,

Ruth D. Bernstein
Consumer Advocate