Actually, yes there are. Hearing aids, with proper care, can last 5-10 years. Now when I say that, it's not that they are "obsolete" after 5-10 years, but that's just about when I see patients choose to replace them. Hearing aids used to have to be replaced more often, but with the significant improvements in technology, patients are more satisfied with them and so they actually work for them much longer.
Going back to your original question, there are what are known as "all-make repair labs" that will repair older hearing aids even if the original manufacturer is unwilling to. Know that sometimes they aren't the best choice to go with because they may have to substitute parts if original ones aren't available, but they may be your only choice in some circumstances. Usually, however, they do an excellent job and are a reliable option.
If an audiologist or a hearing instrument specialist tells you "sorry, your hearing aid is too old and just needs to be replaced", they may just be saying this because they want to sell you something new. That's not always the case; some aids just can't be fixed. And some are so old they should really just be replaced.
I find there are generally three reasons to replace an old hearing aid: (1) your hearing loss has outpaced the power availability of your hearing aids; (2) wear and tear; and (3) better technology has become available to such a degree it makes no sense to continue repairing the old aids. The first two are fairly self-explanatory; for the latter, manufacturer technology tends to get replaced / updated every 12-18 months. If you bought the right level of technology previously, the next generation may be slightly better, but probably not enough that you'll notice enough difference to justify the cost of replacing. Two generations later? Maybe. Three generations later? Probably. At this point, it's been five years--hence when I find patient tend to replace in that time frame.
Still, cost is obviously an issue. It will always be cheaper to repair an aid than replace it. The oldest hearing aid I've ever sent in to be fixed was 23 years old, and repair was the best option for that particular patient because she simply couldn't afford anything new. This is where the all-make repair lab took on the challenge--and they got it fixed for her.
So it's still possible. Hearing aids rarely become "obsolete." They simply may be not as good as the newer technology, so it does come to a point where repairing them isn't as good as replacing them. Until that time--and until you can afford to get something new--all-make repair labs are still a good option.
There are two “all-make” hearing aid repair labs in the US that I am aware of: Starkey All-Make and Prairie Labs. Our office tries our best to keep our patients’ hearing aids working for as long as possible. Many manufacturers will not repair the aids after 5-6 years, as they know longer have the parts. I understand that the All-Make Labs purchase these older parts. (Usually after 5 years, the manufacturers have launched newer products with newer parts and designs in their labs.)
We have come across a few cases where the All- Makes Labs no longer have the hearing aid parts for a patient’s older hearing aid and they will admit that nothing can be done. A couple times, the hearing aid was repaired, but our office could not program the patient’s prescription into the hearing aid because the software of the older hearing aid no longer works with the Microsoft operating system in our computers, as technology is constantly updating at the same rate in our computers.
If your hearing aid is from 2008 or older, it may very well be “obsolete”.
I hope you find this information helpful.
In the UK manufacturers need to keep offering repairs for 5 years after they stop manufacturing a hearing aid model (warranties can last up to 5 years) but after that support for the model usually ceases.
The all makes repairer we use here is Starkey based up in Stockport.
I have sent them over the years pretty much everything you can think of including a 13 year old pair of in the ear hearing aids & a behind the ear pair that was 20 years old.
I have never caught them out!
You may find if your hearing aid is particularly ancient there may not be an audiologist who has the software or knowledge to adjust the aid. (If the chip in the aid needs replacing settings generally will be lost).
Also technology has moved on exponentially.
But if you are particularly attached to an aid & it works well for you it had your latest prescription inside & is well serviced (parts deteriorate over time affecting performance) then carry on as you are.
However do check in with your audiologist & check out new technology from time to time because things in our industry are moving at an incredible rate!
The short answer is yes. I use one of two, Prairie Labs or Starkey All Make Repair. With these options I can repair just about anything or any aid. I have even repaired 20 year old analogs... some people are really attached to their hearing aids! LOL
Even if the circuit is bad, sometimes it can be repaired as long as the repair center has it. If not, then no it is a gonner.
It sounds to me that you do not feel that your hearing aids are "obsolete" and are seeking service for them that your current provider is not able to provide. If that is the case, call around and get at least a second or a third opinion. I have used Starkey's All-Make lab with satisfactory results when my patients want to repair their older hearing aids. Just because your model hearing aids are no longer produced does not make them obsolete or outdated.
Yes, most older devices can be repaired even if the manufacturer who designed them can not. The only word of caution is that with an older device, you may be opening up Pandora's box. What you send in will come back in good working order, however it may be returned to you with components that are not the same as the original. You may end up with a hearing aid that sounds different or has feedback (whistling). If your hearing aid is programmable, the software and hardware needs to be available. Best of luck!
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