I would consider the following questions in helping to determine if rechargeable hearing aids are a good fit for you:
I recommend rechargeable hearing aids to my patients with low vision and poor dexterity all the time. It is so nice for them to not have to fumble through changing batteries! I like to give the option of rechargeability to everyone who is recommended behind the ear hearing aids. Right now there is not a rechargeable custom in the ear hearing aid option so that rules out some hearing aid users. Others who travel or camp (I'm in Colorado so this does come up pretty frequently) like the option of having batteries so they don't have to worry about charging them. They are a great option for most people so I would certainly ask your audiologist if they could work for you!
I recommend rechargeable hearing devices for most people. Rechargeable devices were specifically for people that have dexterity issues (arthritis, mobility issues) with their hands or people that have low vision. This is a wonderful way to make using a hearing device less cumbersome. Rechargeable devices are excellent for people that often forget to change their batteries or for those people living in a nursing home or assisted living facility. There are fewer pieces to keep track of (if you've ever dropped a hearing aid battery on the carpet- you know what I'm talking about) and it provides piece of mind for caregivers and family members that their loved one is always "tuned in" and you don't have to worry about a dead battery. Many of my patients keep their recharging port for their hearing aids right next to their cell phone charger which is an easy way to remember to "charge up" all your devices in one spot every night!
I think rechargeable batteries have helped simplify hearing health care for almost all of my patients! Most devices have about an 18 hour charge on them, but my experience has been that it may be longer than that. The only con that I see is that depending on the company, some rechargeable batteries last anywhere from one year to three years; this also depends on how much you "drain" your battery or how hard you make them work (ie. power devices or more Bluetooth streaming etc...) Overall, most patients enjoy the simplicity of "put them on and go" without having to worry about changing batteries. For more information on rechargeable hearing aids and the brand that we carry, please click here.
I would recommend rechargable hearing aids to patients who want a behind the ear solution as in the ear hearing aids are not currently rechargeable.
One trade off is the size of the devices. If you you wanted the ultimate in tiny behind the ear hearing aids for example the Unitron Moxi Now then you will either accept that you will have to regularly replace disposable batteries or accept a bigger device behind the ear.
I have had instances where some older patients have struggled with battery changes but have coped well with either Oticon or Unitron sporting the Z-Power silver zinc rechargeable technology. A replacement battery shouldn't be required for at least a year & no opening & closing of the battery door is required until this battery requires renewal.
I have also fitted the Phonak Lithium Ion rechargeable hearing aids & had more of a mixed response. Currently to switch them on after charging a long firm press of the button on the aid is required to switch the aid back on. There is however word of a firmware update which would allow you to have the aid switch on as the aid is removed from the charger. No firm date for this has been given. I haven't had any reports of batteries not making it through the day, however I had my first set of Z-Power battery doors/batteries replaced after only a few months because of reducing battery life possibly due to an increase in streaming activity.
All very well answered by colleagues here.
Two other benefits of rechargeable:
1- More environmentally friendly.
2- Safer option. Phonak rechargeable aids are sealed and can’t be open. Great if the aid is fitted on a toddler or anyone with cognitive issues or even family with pets sniffing and chewing things around the house! :)
Rechargeable batteries are a personal preference and are always given consideration for receiver in the ear (behind the ear) devices. Discussions always center on convenience and dexterity. As an example, a person who spends time camping most of the summer, may do best with batteries that they can replace.
There are rechargeable products that have the batteries built in (non removable) and there are products that can use either a disposable or rechargeable battery. In our practice we always give patients choices when it comes to options.
There are a few custom rechargeable products in the marketplace.. These tend to be less discreet due to size. Coming soon, we will see rechargeable custom products in a smaller package. We can't wait!
Rechargeable hearing aids have been available for many years but are becoming much more popular for a number of reasons. Some of the new sealed units now offer up to 24 hours of continuous use as well as streaming to smart phone capability. Their size is also getting smaller and is not much different that a similar battery powered hearing aid. With no battery door the new rechargeables will shut themselves off when placed in the charger and turn themselves back on when removed from the charger. Dexterity is my primary consideration when recommending rechargeable aids. Patients who have difficulty replacing batteries will find it much easier to use. The single biggest issue to not use them is the fact they need charged nightly. If you don't have power available you don't have the option to switch to a regular battery. The charges do come with the option to charge them from a USB port though. Many new vehicles and most all computers have USB ports available. You can get an adapter for the cigarette lighter in older vehicles to use USB. I have many patients who choose rechargeables just because of the convenience even though they don't have any dexterity issues. The sealed batteries have an estimated life of up to six years for some brands. I wear a pair of the new Signia Charge N Go NX 7's myself and love them.
Rechargeable hearing aids are great for convenience or when patients are unable to see or handle disposable batteries, but they cost more up front. If you're looking for rechargeable hearing aids to save on battery costs, realize that it will probably end up costing you the same as disposable batteries will over the life of the hearing aids. That's because the rechargeable battery and the charger are more expensive than conventional disposable batteries.
I usually recommend rechargeable hearing aids for patients who: (1) can't remember to change the batteries regularly; (2) can't see the disposable batteries; (3) can't pick up or handle the disposable batteries because of medical issues like arthritis or neuropathy; (4) just want it for convenience or to be environmentally friendly.
Keep in mind that the rechargeable batteries do not last forever and will lose capacity over time (just like the battery in your cell phone). So you are probably going to need to change the rechargeable batteries in 1-3 years depending on which type you go with.
In my opinion, the use of rechargeable hearing aids is a personal preference. Some patients prefer the convenience of not needing to change batteries while others prefer to just change the battery on a schedule. For patients that have dexterity issues or memory concerns, rechargeable hearing aids can be very beneficial. If you do get a rechargeable hearing aid and you travel a lot, I recommend getting a rechargeable hearing aid that allows you to also use a disposable battery. That way you will not need to bring your charger along or worry about having enough battery life in the event of a layover or delay! In the end, it's a personal decision and I would recommend discussing your unique situation with your audiologist to find the right solution for you!
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