How Can I Not Lose My New Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid?
February 3, 2016 8:24 AM   Subscribe

I'm about to get my first hearing aid. It'll be for one ear, a BTE (behind-the-ear). I note that my warranty will cover one incident of loss, which raises the question: how often do people misplace and lose their hearing aids? What strategies have worked for the hearing-aided MeFites for not dropping the tiny things or leaving them behind in a hotel room when in a hurry?

The hearing aids are more expensive than I've ever paid for something so tiny. And I misplace things all the time. I bought an expensive pair of sunglasses once--to deter this kind of thoughtless misplacement -- and promptly lost them within the week. So the fact that they're very expensive is not guarantee that I won't lose track of them.
posted by theefixedstars to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have learned to be super anal about where I put them - always have a case, train myself to not just put them down. If it will help and you don't mind them being more visible you can get hearing aids in bright colors these days which makes them more obvious. I didn't do that but being mindful about my habits has helped. By the same token I've worked to ALWAYS put my keys in the same place. I think that kind of specificity helps reinforce keeping track of multiple small important things - glasses, cell phone, etc.
posted by leslies at 8:44 AM on February 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think the biggest risk is in the beginning because you are used to not having them and you are used to your hearing without them. After a week or two, when your brain has adjusted to hearing with it, without it, you will notice just like I notice when I forget my glasses. It is a little blurry. Without it, you will notice a change that will prompt an "Oh crap, I forgot my hearing aid" reaction. The key is to make some sort of habit in the first week or two to remember to check for your keys, your wallet and your hearing aid before you leave a room.

If you are the type to leave things behind in a hotel room or when you are in a hurry, I suggest you try to address that as a larger issue.
posted by AugustWest at 8:44 AM on February 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Are you planning on wearing this aid pretty much during all your waking hours? Your analogy of sunglasses is a bit faulty, those are really easy to lose. I've lost plenty of prescription and non-prescription sunglasses, and now that my mom has swapped from fulltime to just reading glasses, she's lost those, but neither of us has ever lost our "real" glasses, I need them too badly and they're always on my face from the time I get out of the shower in the morning to the time I set them by the bed at night. Once you're accustomed to wearing it, you'll miss it immediately. I think you'll be fine.
posted by aimedwander at 8:48 AM on February 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I work in a theater, and we have an assisted listening system. People lose their hearing aids ALL THE TIME when they take them out to put the assisted listening earpiece in. So, maybe have some sort of travel case that you carry around to put them in if you're going to a show or something.
posted by Weeping_angel at 8:51 AM on February 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

So as people have said, you have to train yourself. One strategy is through use of Post-its. Put a Post-it on your exit door at home that says, "Remember XTiny ThingX" (there's some science around using the word remember vs the words don't forget). When you see it, stop and do a mental inventory before you open the door. Do the same thing at work- before you leave your cube/desk/office threshold, put a Post-it to remind you to do a mental inventory. In your car, on the steering wheel, Post-it = mental inventory. The trick here is to eventually train yourself that any time you are transitioning from one place to another you are taking stock of all of your belongings.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:15 AM on February 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

My mom has hearing aids and I’ve tried to convince her to let me use a fine-point Sharpie to write "REWARD" and her phone number in tiny letters on them.
posted by blueberry at 9:26 AM on February 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Hm, I've had BTEs hearing aids for 35 years and have never lost one. The only place I take them off is at home, and the only place in the home I ever, EVER put them is on my dresser. You just need a routine. If for some reason you need to take them off during the day, a case that always goes in the same pocket/your purse will develop the habit.
posted by desjardins at 9:49 AM on February 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Following on what stoneweaver said, make sure you have a single (one, 1, ONLY ONE) place for your hearing aid (and case) to live when you aren't wearing it. If it isn't in your ear, it is on your nightstand. That is the only place you ever take it off. If you need to make the place from scratch, do it - buy a side table or a basket or a shelf. The only places the hearing aid ever goes are in your ear and in its place.

Experience: Years of ADD and losing things. My keys are only allowed to go in the basket by the door. My glasses are only allowed to go on my nightstand and the bathroom counter. My phone that I can put down anywhere? Constantly lost.
posted by maryr at 9:59 AM on February 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yep. My mother recently lost her $6000 hearing aids. At my brother's house. It was his birthday party and she felt that it was too loud. So she took them out and wrapped them in a napkin. She thought she put them in her pocket but no doubt left them on a table. They were probably cleaned up.

So another vote for one and only one place to keep it or them.
posted by Splunge at 10:12 AM on February 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

My son got an aide three years ago (he was five) and this was a huge fear of mine! We just did what everyone has been saying, we have a dedicated place that it goes when he takes it off.... On my bedside table. Luckily, he is an oddly responsible little guy and he is very conscientious about it so we got into a routine quickly and it's never been a problem. Quick note, I've been warned by a few other moms that pets LOVE the ear molds so wherever you keep it, be sure a pet cannot get it. We have been lucky and have avoided that, just wanted to give you a heads up. You would hate for your one replacement to be because Fido noshed on your aide.
posted by pearlybob at 10:26 AM on February 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm a nurse; when I was doing bedside care, I would use a (clean!) specimen cup to store patients' hearing aids. It had a screw-on lid and was big enough not to get lost among all the other stuff, and I could label it with the patient's name. Just because the hearing aids are tiny doesn't mean their storage place has to be tiny.
posted by shiny blue object at 10:33 AM on February 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Something that no one has mentioned yet: be aware when wearing hats. My mother lost the outer parts of her ungodly expensive cochlear hearing aid once while wearing a stocking cap; she wasn't mindful when she took it off when we got inside, the aid came off, and heck only knows where it ended up.

And I would like to ditto shiny blue object; if you end up in the hospital, be extra mindful of your aid there. Mom fell asleep one night after we'd all taken off (and weren't there to remind her to take them off), and one aid fell into her sheets, and that was that when they changed the bed (which was before we got in the next day).

Developing steady habits is definitely half the battle, but being aware in out of the ordinary situations will really help.
posted by joycehealy at 10:50 AM on February 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

The trick here is to eventually train yourself that any time you are transitioning from one place to another you are taking stock of all of your belongings.

This is exactly right, both in the technique (take inventory at all transitions) and in the methodology (train yourself). Every time I leave a "space" (cubicle, car, restaurant table, bathroom, hotel room, etc) I check my front right pocket for my phone and my rear right pocket for my wallet. It is easy to say "only put a thing down in one place" but for whatever reason, that is just not possible for some people. My dumb brain puts my phone down all over the place (inside the refrigerator, frexample), and training it out of that was impossible, because it requires attention ALL THE TIME. Training myself to do one thing (tap pockets), at a specific prompt (leaving a space) was SO MUCH easier.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:50 AM on February 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have also worn hearing aids for 35 years and have never lost one (Hi, desjardins!). I started wearing them when I was five. My parents were quite poor when I got my first set, so I think they impressed me, on a deep, emotional level, that they were never to be lost.

So, yeah, what everyone says - they only go in one place. In my case, it's two places - a closing cabinet on the wall in the bedroom, or in the carrying case if it's raining. I need hearing aids in either ear and have a pretty severe loss, so I will admit it is easy for me to remember them when I am awake.
posted by Slothrop at 11:01 AM on February 3, 2016

Best answer: Audiologist, so my perspective is more on the outside looking in, but I did see some patterns when I worked in the clinic. Nthing the case and all the strategies mentioned above.

If you're a headphone user (for phone conversation or just listening to music/podcasts) and the aids have streaming capabilities, explore pairing them to whatever devices you use so you're not taking them off throughout the day. Basically minimize any reason that would lead you to take them on and off like reading glasses.

Depending on the exact style of aid and your ear shape, you may find that they wiggle out of your ears a bit (for some people this can happen after a lot of jaw motion, like chewing). Usually your audiologist will be cognizant of the issue, check for it and have strategies to counteract the issue, but it's something to take note of and check on the first few days you have them.

I occasionally had people lose them because something knocked them off: sometimes glasses (this really was only a problem for people who took them off at an angle, which isn't good for your frames anyways), or something like yard work if they were brushing there head up against branches. Not too common, but again something to be cognizant of.

There are also some home owner's insurances or third-party insurer policies for hearing aids against loss or damage. I don't remember the pricing, but it may be worth looking into (if you ever do use the manufacturers warranty). With home owners, I think it was almost always a special rider you had added on. I recall one case where the person had been told that the owners policy covered loss, but when they tried to make a claim they found out they were not covered on the standard policy (I'm unsure how the miscommunication occurred).
posted by ghost phoneme at 11:11 AM on February 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Like others, I've been wearing hearing aids since childhood -- I'm 46 now. I've never lost them. There was one time as a teen though that I wore them canoeing and one fell out of my ear and into the water -- I never wore them in a canoe again.

Another vote for keeping them in the same place and creating a routine. At home I keep them in my Dry & Store device which does not ever move from it's place in my home office. When I go to hotels I bring along a portable drying device and that jar always sits on the dresser. (I don't work for Dry & Store or anything, but they are amazing at keeping my hearing aids clean and working well, plus serve as a great "home base" for them!)

If I ever need to take them out when I am on the go, I also have a case that I keep in a zippered pocket in my backpack -- always the same zippered pocket.
posted by Lescha at 11:35 AM on February 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've worn my BTE's for five years. They have stayed in except for some occasions when I've taken off a turtleneck sweater and once when I was raking leaves and brushed away a pesky fly near my ear. My hearing aid also got brushed away and I did not notice it missing until an hour later. The hearing aid was small, light grey with a translucent earpiece. The yard was large (150x200) with lots of fall debris. After quite a hunt I did find it!

That incident has made me more careful anytime the area around my ears is near hats or clothing or I brush up against anything. And I take them out when doing yard work!
posted by tronec at 1:38 PM on February 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

As a lot of people have said, never take it off without putting it right into the case. Carry the case with you whenever you're wearing the aid. And put your name, phone number, and email address on the case.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 8:38 PM on February 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

My husband lost one BTE when his hat got knocked off by a gust of wind. His aid was grey, and it was knocked onto a gravel walk, so we never found it. We have vowed his next pair will be brightly colored.
posted by dbmcd at 6:28 AM on February 4, 2016

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