One of the more common questions we are asked is, “My older hearing aid is damaged or isn’t functioning the way it used to – do you think I should purchase a new one, or have it repaired?” The answer is “It depends.” The question of whether to repair or replace hinges on many factors, and the “best answer” is as individual as the people asking the question.
For starters, it should be noted that hearing aids – no matter how well made they are and what their original cost was – sometimes fail, or begin to function incorrectly. Why? Mostly because of ongoing use in an inhospitable environment containing ear wax and moisture. Both moisture and ear wax are normal, but your hearing aids dislike them both. Water can harm the fine electronics while wax can generally ‘gum up’ the interior. Additionally, there is obviously the possibility of breakage due to an accident or dropping the hearing aids, and the internal tubing and other parts inevitably wear out with time, so after a few years you can expect your aids needing replacement or repair.
Likely the major thing you should think about when making the “repair or replace” decision is how you feel about your present hearing aids – do you like them, and the sound they deliver? If you do, or you have gotten used to the sound they deliver( as many wearers of older analog hearing aids do), it may be preferable to have them repaired than to upgrade them with newer digital aids which could produce a very different sound or wearing experience.
Cost is clearly another major consideration. While brand new aids may cost thousands, repairing your current hearing aids may be possible for a few hundred. The part we can’t answer for you is the influence of insurance. Some insurance policies include hearing aid replacements, but not repairs or have varying policies on partial or full coverage.
If you decide to have your hearing aids fixed, another common question that arises is, “Should I take them to the store I purchased them from, or send them to one of the many repair labs who advertise online?” While you could choose to deal with a remote repair lab directly, your local audiologist is a tremendous resource. First off all, they can establish if repairs are actually necessary. Second, they might be able to get the repairs done on-site reducing the length of time you are without your hearing aid. For hearing aid repairs that can’t be accomplished locally, your hearing specialist will take care of the shipping, paperwork and lab instructions for you. Because they work in volume with suppliers, their pricing may be the exact same or better than you could get on your own.
If you decide to replace your hearing aids, more options are open to you. Make an effort to learn about the technological advances since the last time you purchased and be open to newer designs. Newer hearing aids are smaller and provide superior programability to obtain the sound quality you prefer. So the final decision whether to “repair or replace” is still yours to make, but hopefully this advice will help you make it.