Advertisement
ReSound image
Advertisement
ReSound image

I Lost My Hearing Aid! What Can I Do? Tips and Strategies for Finding and Preventing Lost Hearing Aids

Lost & Found: Here's what to do if you misplace or lose your hearing aids—with tips for minimizing the risk of hearing aid loss altogether.
Lost Hearing Aid On Rug

The first thing if you've just misplaced or lost your hearing aids: Put on your glasses, get some light on the subject, and step carefully!

Losing a hearing aid can be an extremely upsetting experience. Not only are they financially valuable devices, but they also enable the user to access sound, engage in conversations, and feel safe in their surroundings. Reflecting on her own experience, hearing aid user Rosemary shares, “I lost mine once in the bedroom. I must have knocked it off my bedside cabinet when making the bed. I looked everywhere and I couldn’t find it. It was really distressing for me as I have no hearing in one ear, and the one I have my hearing aid in is very limited. A lot of crying happened that day.“

Our hearing connects us to the world around us and to our loved ones. When we lose a hearing aid, these connections become compromised, making a lost hearing aid an emergency. Amy, another hearing aid user, remarks, “When I temporarily lose my hearing aids I feel an immediate sense of panic. I stop everything and look for them. They are a priority, and I am ever so grateful when I find them again.”

According to ESCO, a hearing aid warranty company, some common reasons people lose their hearing aids include encounters with pets, accidents involving small children, and dislodgement in fast-moving vehicles or when removing clothing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the removal of masks caused a large number of hearing aids to fly off wearers' heads, never to be seen again.

In this article, we offer guidance on how to find your hearing aids if you lose them, featuring tips such as utilizing "Find My Hearing Aid" apps. We also outline what to do if your search proves fruitless and share some preventive measures experienced users take to minimize the risk of hearing aid loss altogether.

What to do if you can’t find your hearing aids

Obviously, your search will vary depending on when and where you first noticed your hearing aids missing. And watch your step! The last thing you want to do is step on them, so if applicable, put on your glasses, add more light to the search area using a flashlight or smartphone, and step carefully if you believe they may be on the ground.

Misplacing a hearing aid can be stressful, but there are measures you can take to increase your chances of finding it. Here are some suggestions of what you can do if you can’t find your hearing aids:

Step 1: Check your app for a “Find My Hearing Aid” option

Modern hearing aids are compact and comfortable, so you might not even realize immediately if one slips out/off or goes missing. This makes it challenging to pinpoint where to begin your search. Fortunately, many current hearing aids offer a tracking feature accessible through your hearing aid smartphone app.

For example, the following apps by leading hearing aid manufacturers include tracking features:

Although the app's functionality and design may vary slightly between manufacturers, they all aim to help users locate their misplaced hearing aids. And they all work essentially the same. Below is a video from ReSound on how its “Find My Hearing Aid” tracking feature works. Note that some popular models, including Signia, Rexton, Phonak, and Unitron, do not currently have a "Find My Hearing Aid" feature on their apps. See below for other options for finding these devices.

An instructional video on how to use the ReSound Smart 3D and ReSound Smart app to find misplaced or lost hearing aids. Note that the hearing aids have to be turned on to use this feature; if they're turned off or the batteries have run out, you'll see the location where the hearing aids were last connected to the app.

A hearing aid tracker can be incredibly handy, and we recommend you use it as your initial step if you misplace your hearing aid and can't locate it after a brief search in your immediate surroundings.

In order to access the tracking feature, you need to have already paired your hearing aids with your hearing aid app. For the best possibility of finding your hearing device, make sure the app has full access to your location at all times and is running in the background when you’re not using it.

Generally, once you open your hearing aid app, you first need to go to your menu or settings and navigate to the “Find My Hearing Aid” feature, which will show whether your hearing aids are connected.

If your hearing aids are connected, the feature allows you to use your smartphone to find your missing hearing aid. If your hearing aids are close by, a proximity bar on the screen will animate to indicate how close you are to the missing hearing aid. Think the hotter or colder game—when you move your phone closer to your missing hearing aid, the app will indicate you are “getting warmer.” When you move it farther away, the app will tell you that you are “getting colder.”

If you are looking for a hearing aid after its battery has died, or if it is out of range of your smartphone, the app will show a map that indicates where the hearing aids were last connected to the app, along with the date and time. This can be particularly helpful if you lose your hearing aid while at work, grocery shopping, or when out and about.

If you own a smartphone and have hearing aids that connect to it, be sure to speak to your audiologist about whether your hearing aid app has the “Find my hearing Aid” feature. This can save you a lot of time and stress when searching for a misplaced hearing aid and can give you peace of mind that you have a strategy in place should it happen.

My hearing aid doesn't have a "Find My Hearing Aid" feature

If your hearing aid app doesn't have the “Find My Hearing Aid” option, you may find it helpful to head over to your Apple App Store or Google Play Store to download a hearing aid locator app or a Bluetooth device locator app. These apps use a Bluetooth scanner to track any hearing aid or Bluetooth device that is powered on and connected to your phone.

My hearing aid is turned off or out of power and is lost outdoors

If the hearing aid is likely turned off or without power and you think you lost it in a specific outdoor area, like in thick grass or at the beach, you might try a metal detector. Hearing aids contain small amounts of metal and a battery (rechargeable or button cell), so a high-quality metal detector could help locate them. If you, a friend, or a family member don't have a metal detector, most equipment rental stores rent them.

Lost Hearing Aids Metal Detector

Because hearing aids have small metal parts and batteries, they can be detected with a high-quality metal detector if you think you lost it in a hard-to-find place like the beach or thick grass.

Step 2: Carry out a thorough search

Ok, this step may seem like obvious advice. But, even though you might have already searched for your hearing aid when you realized it was missing, sometimes due to the stress involved in the situation, it can be difficult to search effectively for lost items.

Here are some tips for searching for your hearing aid:

  • Recall and reflect: Think about where you were and what you were doing when you last remembered wearing your hearing aid. This could give you a clue as to the whereabouts of your device.
  • Retrace your path: Return to the places you have visited during the day and retrace your steps.
  • Sudden movement check: Check any location where you remember making a sudden movement, which may have dislodged your hearing aid.
  • Ask for help: Ask those you've been with throughout the day if they remember you wearing your hearing aid, or if they can point out any spots you might have missed while searching. Ask family members, friends, or caregivers to help you search.
  • Inspect nearby areas: Check tables, countertops, desks, couch cushions, under furniture, in shoes, in your car, and other surfaces where the hearing aid could have been placed or fallen.
  • Check your pockets: Examine your clothing and look in your pockets.
  • Use a flashlight: Shine a flashlight on the floor, under furniture, and in corners to help locate the hearing aid.
  • Try the squeal test: If the hearing aid is laying on the ground, there's a chance it might be in a good position to exhibit feedback/whistling. Increase the volume of your hearing aid using your hearing aid app (if connected) to determine if someone nearby can hear the device's squeal.
  • Use a metal detector: Try using a metal detector to locate your hearing aid.
  • Report them: Notify the staff as soon as possible at any public venue where you suspect you may have misplaced your hearing aids. Describe the device and request a check of the “lost and found.” If the hearing aids are not located, leave your contact details, including name and phone number. Ask the staff to contact you if the hearing aids are found, and get in touch with them again if you still haven't found your hearing aid after a couple of days.

Step 3: Contact your hearing care provider

If, despite your efforts, you are unable to locate your hearing aid, reach out to your hearing care provider to discuss your options. They may be able to help you locate your hearing aid, or assist you in obtaining a replacement device, either under your hearing aid warranty or insurance policy. 

Patient talking with a hearing care provider via telecare

If your search proves fruitless, contact your hearing care professional for help.

Many hearing aids come with manufacturer warranties that typically cover loss, damage, and repairs for the first year, sometimes longer. It’s also worth checking with your hearing care provider to see if you can extend or renew your warranty. If you are covered by the manufacturer or your insurance policy, your hearing care provider can inform you of your next steps.

“Hearing aids have a 1 or 2-year loss and damage coverage. There may be a service charge, but use this if hearing aids are lost or damaged beyond repair,” recommends audiologist Kathy Dowd, AuD, Executive Director at The Audiology Project, Inc.

Since hearing aids can carry a hefty price tag, you may consider purchasing additional coverage for your hearing devices through third parties such as ESCO to protect your investment. Or, if your hearing aid has no manufacturer’s warranty, you might choose to include the hearing aid on your existing homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to cover hearing aid loss and damage. It is important to know the replacement cost of your hearing aid without insurance or warranty when deciding whether to keep the warranty or take out insurance on your hearing aids.

Top-10 tips for preventing a lost hearing aid

Understanding what steps to take if you lose your hearing aid is crucial, yet I’m sure you’ll agree that a better scenario would be to prevent loss entirely. HearingTracker spoke to members of its online Facebook hearing loss support group and Hearing Loss Forum, as well as hearing care providers, and asked them if they had any tips and tricks to keep from losing their hearing aids. Here’s what they shared:

1) Always store your hearing aids in the case or charger

If you're removing your hearing aids or not wearing them, make it a strict personal rule to put them in the charger or case right away to prevent misplacing them. If your hearing aids are rechargeable, place them in the charger overnight so they are not only fully charged for the following day but you know exactly where to find them.

Woman placing her hearing aids in charging case

Make it your personal rule to store your hearing aids in their case or charger whenever you take them off. Shown: Signia Pure Charge&Go IX hearing aids with portable charging case.

“I have lost one of mine. Luckily, they were NHS so only cost me £60,” shared Hazel who lives in the UK. “I had taken them out by the side of the pool before I went swimming. I am not sure how it happened. I think I left them on my towel. I now have private hearing aids and never take them out without putting them in the box—ever.“

In addition to keeping your hearing aids in their case or charger when not wearing them, Amy advises, “Always keep your case in the same spot.” She explains, “I always have my hearing aid case in my purse. That’s where my hearing aids go when I am not using them. Rarely do I set my hearing aids down and they are not in my case— and if I do that, I am very aware that I need to get them in my case ASAP.”

"Now, if I take them out downstairs,” says Rosemary, “I keep them in a little pot and upstairs in another little pot by my bed; I don’t leave them anywhere else.”

2) Take care when removing clothing

“I was shooting photos in the National Park, and I took my camera off from around my neck, and there goes a $5,000 aid down the river,” recalled Jo. When removing sunglasses or glasses, a facemask, a hat, or any item of clothing from your head or neck, be careful not to knock your hearing aids out of your ears—this is easily done! Always take a moment to double-check your hearing aids are still in place after removing clothing and accessories.

Lost Hearing Aids Undressing

Beware! Removing shirts, blouses, and undergarments can knock hearing aids off your ears.

3) Be super-vigilant around pets and children

Be careful not to leave your hearing aids within reach of children or pets. “I found it in my dog's mouth,” shared Lori. “It fell out of my ear when leaning over to pet my dog, and I didn’t notice. Thankfully unharmed. So, the learning is for pet owners to be aware that they are super attractive to them.”

4) Ensure that your hearing aids are securely and correctly fitted

If your hearing aids feel loose in your ears, be sure to tell your hearing care provider, who can fit you with a better-fitting mold or dome. In addition to having less chance of falling out of your ear, a well-fitted hearing aid dome will also mean that less sound escapes, which can create feedback, meaning you may also notice an improved performance from your hearing aids.

There are also "sport locks" available for some hearing behind-ear aids: this is a small flexible strand of plastic attached to the receiver or earmold. It tucks into the bowl of your ear and is designed to provide added security. It's often used with kids and athletes, hence the name.

“When I first had my hearing aids, and the molds didn't fit right, one fell out on the way to or at the grocery store,” said Roberta. “It was in a rainstorm. For an hour, I searched the street, the grocery store, through the vegetable and fruit bins… wherever I'd been. The neighbors joined in and helped search. No success. In despair, I told my audiologist and was greatly relieved when he said the vendor would replace me with a new one free of cost under warranty. To say they were expensive is an understatement. I lost one again a month later while visiting relatives in England. Juggling sunglasses with regular glasses, one hearing aid fell off. I took an hour walking around a park in Bath looking through flowerbeds, with a couple of strangers helping before I found it!

“I was discouraged and feared that I was resigned to continually go through this trauma. Then my audiologist made me new custom molds, saying I have a strange-shaped ear! Since then, nearly three years later, I've never lost one, thankfully. Now, they fit in my ear well.”

Making An Earmold

A custom earmold specially made for your unique ear canal can provide better hearing aid retention—with the possible side benefit of giving you better hearing aid performance. Shown are two techniques for taking ear impressions in the clinic.

5) Consider the color of your hearing aid

Hearing aids and earmolds come in various colors, and a brightly colored hearing aid could prove easier to find than a neutral-colored device.

“I just had my impression done for my custom ear mold. It will be green!!!” shared Randy. “My problem is when I put my hearing aids down by my keys. Who on earth can find their keys? The bright green molds might help me find my keys too!”

6) Secure your hearing aids with retention clips or devices

Ruth Reisman, AuD, MBA, professor at Brooklyn College, and co-owner of Urban Hearing, recommends you attach your hearing aids to your clothing using a hearing aid OtoClip or similar hearing aid retainer. “I've also seen patients use glasses chains and necklaces to loop on their devices,” added Reisman.

Ear Retention And Otoclips

There are a lot of different styles of retention clips, headbands, and different attachment devices that can be purchased for hearing aids. Many are particularly useful for sports enthusiasts. Images from Oaktree Products.

Hearing aid clips can be particularly helpful when taking part in sports or if your work involves physical activity. They can also be beneficial for children because they can help prevent their hearing aids from getting lost during play. Hearing aid clips for children often come in bright colors and fun designs such as animals, sea creatures, and dinosaurs.

7) Attach an AirTag tracker to your hearing aids

Although hearing aid locator apps can assist in finding misplaced hearing aids, not all devices come with this option. Additionally, it is essential to remember to turn on the location service and ensure the app stays active in the background—a step that some people might overlook. One suggestion is to attach an AirTag — a small Bluetooth tracking device developed by Apple—onto your hearing aid OtoClip or retention device.

Airtag Hearing Aids

An Apple AirTag placed on an Otoclip can help you locate hearing aids that go missing.

Given these devices' extended battery life, family members or caregivers can connect one to their smartphone and easily locate the hearing aid via the device. You can simply feed the loop of the tracker through the central point of the OtoClip where the clip attaches—that way it’s equally weighted and doesn’t pull to one side or the other.

After once forgetting his Roger On hearing aid microphone, Mark now attaches an AirTag to his Roger On lanyard. “Now I can’t forget it!” he told HearingTracker. Note that various brands of Bluetooth tracking devices have similar functionalities as AirTag, and would be suitable for fastening to hearing aids and related devices.

Other Trackers

Alternatives to the Airtag: From top left (clockwise), the Samsung SmartTag2, eufy Security SmartTrack Link (iOS only), Chipolo ONE (Android and iOS), Pebblebee Clip (Android and iOS), Nest Locator Tag (TBA, Nest Tag displayed), Tile Pro (Android and iOS), and Cube GPS (Android and iOS).

8) Label and store hearing aids safely in the hospital

Hearing health advocate, author, and speaker Shari Eberts shared the following tip for keeping hearing aids safe during a hospital stay: “Bring a small brightly colored plastic container to house your hearing aids when you remove them for a procedure or to sleep. Label it with your name, and the number of hearing aids, and write DO NOT DISCARD on it. This is also a good place to keep extra hearing aid batteries when in the hospital.

“Another trick is to bring a simple Ziplock bag with a safety pin inside, which you can use to safely stash your devices if they need to be removed when you are outside your room,” adds Eberts. “Label the bag with your name and pin it to your gown so your devices are not misplaced.

Hospital Hallway

It's not a bad idea to use caution when it comes to any stay or procedure at a hospital. Placing your hearing aids in a labeled container or placing them in a small ziplock bag and attaching that bag to your clothing with a safety pin is another option.

9) Establish a routine when caring for loved ones

If you are a caregiver of a person who uses hearing aids, take time to discuss strategies for preventing the loss of their devices. Set up a routine (as much as possible) for how and when they remove their hearing aids. “Assist your family member to remove the hearing aids every night and put them in a container for safety,” recommends Dowd. “If several members wear hearing aids, mark the containers with their names. If your loved one is in a nursing home, speak to the staff so that they are also aware of the routine.

“In the early stages of a cognitive issue, perhaps also model hearing aid usage on yourself to promote engagement,” suggests UK audiologist Natalie Stephenson, who supports individuals with learning disabilities, dementia, and children with their hearing needs. “Actively support hearing aid use throughout the day to reduce their being removed by other carers or staff. Ensure carers check the hearing aids are in throughout the day.”

“For some patients, we'll print their phone number on a label maker and adhere it to the body of the hearing aids,” adds Reisman. “So, if someone finds it, they know who to call. We also have caregivers connect the hearing aids to their phones if there's Bluetooth, so they can keep tabs on the devices as well.”

10) Support children in keeping hearing aids safe

By nurturing independence and self-care in children, we can support them in keeping their hearing aids safe. “Promote an increasing sense of ownership of the aids within the child's developmental and cognitive stage,” recommends Stephenson. “Develop a good routine around removal and placing them in their box.”

Name labels are also a good option for ensuring children's hearing aids are returned safely to their owner, should they get lost.

Hearing Loss In Children

Start early by encouraging good hearing aid wearing habits with children.

Future enhanced tracking solutions

Randy Abrams, a hearing aid user and senior security analyst at SecureIQLab, a Texas-based company specializing in cloud security validation, proposes that implementing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags could offer a simple solution for tracking and returning hearing aids.

RFID technology is primarily used for tracking and identifying objects or people using radio waves. It is used in several applications, from inventory management to animal identification and pet safety.

So, could RFID technology help people find their misplaced hearing aids? Abrams thinks so. “I suspect that eventually, they will put micro-RFID tags into the devices themselves, and these RFID chips will then be registered and added to a hearing aid database when an audiologist is programming the devices,” hypothesizes Abrams. “From there, anyone would be able to take a lost hearing aid to a hearing provider, and they would be able to return the device to its owner. Awareness of the technology would need to be raised for everyone, not just people with hearing loss, or else people finding a lost device won't know how to return it to its owner.”

“For OTC hearing aids, scanning them anywhere that sells them would be feasible, and they could have signage that all can see to get the word out. This may be more problematic for prescription devices as you might be skirting privacy protection laws. That potential obstacle could potentially be overcome by having a waiver signed at the time of enrollment.”

Abrams may be onto something, but for now, until a universal and reliable tracking solution becomes a reality, we recommend taking preventive measures to help avoid losing your hearing aid. And, if you do lose or misplace your hearing aids, we hope this article provides helpful guidance on your next steps.

Carly

Hearing Health Writer

Carly Sygrove is a hearing loss coach and a hearing health writer who has single-sided deafness. She writes about living with hearing loss at My Hearing Loss Story and manages an online support group for people with hearing loss. She is also the founder of the Sudden Hearing Loss Support website, a source of information and support for people affected by sudden hearing loss.