The Initial Assessment and the ‘Eight Elephants in the Room’

For most, the prospect of taking the first step to treat hearing loss is daunting. Unlike a trip to the doctor or dentist, it’s hard to know what to expect. I believe it is important to give you some insight into what we’ll cover and to address common factors and concerns that tend to hold people back. Often there are questions, many of which go unspoken, I like to call these the ‘Eight Elephants in the Room’. Let’s bring them out and address them shall we?

Elephant # 1 “I already know what the diagnosis will be.” If you’ve put off having a hearing assessment because you’re reasonably sure of the likely outcome, you’re not alone. On average it has taken seven years of struggle for a patient to get to the point of making an appointment, we now know that’s seven years too late. In my 18 years of experience I’ve learned rarely are there any surprises as, more often than not, hearing loss has been around for some time. At your appointment you’ll get the full picture on your hearing health including your ability to hear in background noise relative to your age. You’ll also learn how simple treatment can be.

Elephant # 2 “Hearing Aids look like Big, Ugly, Beige Bananas.” That’s exactly what the first behind the ear hearing aids looked like! Fortunately, much has changed. The last time I fitted a big beige banana was around 18 years ago and I still feel a bit embarrassed, alas, it was what we had to work with at the time. Today’s devices are modern, discreet and look nothing like the traditional devices of yesteryear. Most enable additional, seamless interactivity with your smartphone and TV. Almost always there are completely invisible options too, which may involve a trade off in functionality. If hearing devices are needed, let’s discuss the right option for you, you have my word, it WON’T be a big beige banana!

Elephant # 3 “I don’t want to draw attention to my hearing loss.” Whilst hearing loss itself is invisible, rarely are the symptoms. Leaning in to hear conversation and asking for repetition are common outward signs. My patients often confess to pretending to hear in social situations and dread the times they were caught out. Skilled lipreaders can often conceal their hearing loss by putting the visual pieces of the puzzle together, however hearing from another room or at other times when you can’t see the speaker’s face is likely to be an ongoing challenge. TV at normal volume is difficult for most people with hearing loss as quite often you can’t see the speaker’s face. The magnitude of the required TV volume is often the tipping point that brings people into my practice. Know there are always discreet options and the sooner you act, the better the outcome.

Elephant # 4 “Don’t hearing aids just end up in the top drawer?” Unfortunately, there is some truth to that statement. In Australia, studies have shown that around 1/3 of hearing aids almost never leave the top drawer, but not on my watch. At your appointment, we’ll discuss why this occurs and how to avoid such waste. 93% of my patients wear their devices at least 12 hours per day, which is necessary to receive the full benefit and value. I’ll make comfort a priority to enable full time ease of use.

Elephant # 5 “Don’t hearing aids just make everything louder?” Essentially true of traditional devices and untrue of premium technology. You’ll learn the difference.

Elephant # 6 “I don’t want to be sold something.” No one likes that feeling and that is not what you can expect when you come to my practice. We have a strong focus on patient education and uniquely independent advice. As a referrals-based practice, we depend very much on the word of mouth satisfaction of our patient base which only come as a result of appropriately meeting our patient’s needs. These referrals help us expand our reach of quality hearing services and support the less fortunate in Cambodia. The only regret we commonly hear from our patients is that they didn’t take action sooner. You won’t get pressure from us. You will get unbiased, professional advice and a full picture of your hearing health. Regarding the cost there’s a range of options, none of which equate to more than $50 per week over a three-year period.

Elephant # 7 “I/my friend/my family member didn’t have a great experience at another practice, how are you different?” Perhaps the staff at the other practice lacked confidence and experience or is simply not at liberty to use their clinical judgement by virtue of their employment situation. The hearing industry in Australia is arguably the most corporatised in the world, meaning that most clinicians are required to answer to a frequently non-clinical boss. As the owner of NeuAudio, I only answer to my patients. Most practices in Australia are owned by manufacturers which means that the range of solutions they can offer you is exceptionally limited. It has been my experience that no one manufacturer has the ideal solution for all patients and their research and development cycles differ, meaning the best solution today may be superseded tomorrow by another brand that’s ahead of the curve. As an independent practice, we’re in the unique position of having access to the full range of solutions so we can recommend what is best for you.

Elephant # 8 “Is this going to be a long drawn out process?” Not at all. Most people walk out of their first appointment able to hear better straight away. It is important to note that adjusting to your new world of sound is an adaptive process, we’ll let you know what to expect and make the experience as comfortable as we can.

Today’s premium devices require only the simple act of putting them in first thing in the morning, taking them off at night, and nothing in-between! Most are rechargeable without the hassle of batteries and automatically adapt to changing environments without you lifting a finger. A common inconvenience for hearing impaired people is mishearing in social settings to the point they start to avoid them. Our job is to help avoid that situation and simply enable a fuller participation in life.

Hopefully this addresses some of the questions or concerns you may have had ahead of your appointment. A gentle reminder to bring someone you care about that has a familiar voice as they may be needed in part of the assessment.

Best Regards


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