Veteran Hearing Aid Experience

Hello all,

I’m very excited to have discovered Hearing Tracker. I am a U.S. Veteran with moderate severe hearing loss. I just received my first ever, pair of Phonak Marvel R-90’s from the VA on February 14th. While its only been four days LOL, since I’ve had my hearing aids, I have some questions, so that I can help my audiologist, help me to get the best hearing aid experience. My VA audi is an hour away and because of VA HIPAA laws, they don’t do remote programming. So I want to try to be prepared for my next audi appointment.

I’m very impressed with the time my audi took to fit/set-up/calibrate my hearing aids and after that, I was handed off to another person, who thoroughly walked me through everything hearing aid, support, warranty, etc.

After watching a lot of YouTube videos (Dr. Cliff) about HA’s, the HA settings/app, and Phonak Target programming, and working in IT in my past career. I’m pretty educated about what to expect, however, I still have questions.

My questions are these:

  1. They VA programmed my hearing prescription to 100% right-off-the-bat and I know my hearing, brain connection needs to adjust to hearing sounds that have been muted for decades now. How do you know if your hearing aids are serving their purpose for you? That is, because what/how I’m hearing is subjective, how do I ensure my hearing aid programming is correct?

  2. I find myself defaulting to AutoSense OS 3.0 because I don’t thoroughly understand the Noise Reduction, Speech focus, Dynamic control’s. And, I turn down the volume on my HA’s to -5 because some sounds are painful. Also, the Music and TV setting sound quality is bad. Should I just stick to ASOS 3.0, save my own changes or what? Again, hearing being subjective, I’m not sure how to test how I am hearing the sounds around me, correctly.

  3. What kind of notes should I be taking, specifically for my audi to make changes in Target? And, what kind of questions should I be asking my audi, to have the best hearing experiences for me?

Thanks everyone,
James

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James I have been wearing hearing aids for over 15 years most of it with VA hearing aids. Be patient it takes time to get use to the aids, for me about 6 weeks. I keep a daily journal and I note what works and does work with my aids, even now after 15 years of wearing aids. Also do not be afraid to ask for anything else you may need. TV streamer, remote mic etc.
I would be interested in your experience with the Marvels as I am up for new aids this summer.

Now that I have had more time to read your post let me add. My way of knowing that my aids are set correctly is by finding that point with my aids that I hear the best I can, and I understand speech the very best that I possibly can. That 100% prescription target is just your starting point. As you get use to wear your aids you will want or need changes to the fitting, normally to help you understand speech, maybe in noise maybe soft speech, maybe in the lecture hall or church. You also may want to hear music better. I hope you get the picture. You are on an adventure that will take you were ever you allow it too. Just remember you have a service related hearing loss, ask for what you need to do your job or make your life as good as you can.

Please feel free to message me if you like.

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Welcome to the forum.
You have come to a great place to learn about your hearing loss and hearing aids. Many veterans visit here regularly.
From your post you are doing great, very well informed. The 100% prescription setting is done by many fitters. They feel like you should jump in and get it over with but that can be very loud for some and ends up with the person not using the aids. Hopefully the volume controls allow you to turn them down enough to tolerate them for a while until you get used to them better.
As cvkemp said, take notes about the environment you are in and how the aids are acting so you can share this with your fitter. It will help both of you.
The AutoSense 3 in your aids is pretty good. Some like it as is and never request any manual programs. Others ask for maybe a music program or a speech in noise program for going out to eat maybe.
Have fun with your new aids.
Good luck

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Yes, take notes. The phonak app is great for changing the settings and making and saving your own programs for different situations. But, be aware that when you go in for adjustments all the programs you made will be wiped out. Takes a while to get things right.

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Thanks cvkemp, I am keeping track of what works, does not work for me, and what I believe my hearing experience should be. Believe me, after three decades battling the VA on other military disabilities, I’m not shy at all about asking for what I need. I’ve requested the TV Connect, while my HA’s do help with the volume, my partner is mostly home and always on her phone or PC for work. For now, I’m trading :roll_eyes: my hearing aids for my AirPods to hear the TV better.

I’m finding that I am hearing best be adjusting the myPhonak app volume from 0 to -5 when at home and to -2 when I’m walking my dogs. Today, I hit mute when I was hearing birds singing everywhere, amazing, how they were completely blocked out. So, I know high-pitched hearing loss is being helped. I think, because I understand speech pretty clear, I was expecting my HA’s to make people speaking more clearly.

I forgot, reference Marvels:

  1. I used to be the director of research and development for a telecommunication company years (decades) ago, so I always research the heck out of everything. After doing weeks of exhaustive research online and watching YouTube videos from Audi’s and real-world users, I pretty much settled on the Marvels. However, I didn’t care what brand I received as long as they served the purpose of improving my hearing. That being said, after having my last hearing test, the audi suggested the Marvels, without any input from me, so I believe it was meant to be.

  2. Likes: rechargeable, connectivity, TV Connector, myPhonak app, reputation, available for most phone brands.

  3. Experience so far, I’m very open to experiencing new things, so I knew sounds would sound tinny and loud. The Marvels and the app are pretty intuitive, I love that you just stick them in the charger and their ready to go in the morning. I’m currently averaging 10.7 hours a day of wearing time and I’ve only been able to get the battery down to 60%.

Also, I managed to pair the Marvels to my Apple TV box, and even though the sound was fine, and after hours of watching TV, the battery was barely effected, I deleted them from the ATV bluetooth profile. I’m sure it’s fine, but don’t want to adversely effect the HA’s themselves, which I’m sure is just paranoia. And, I had a real challenge getting my iPhone to recognize the HA’s again an the ATV kept the Marvel BT profile active even when I switched to another audio device.

  1. Dislikes: I don’t like that Phonak does not really explain thoroughly, via their website or in the myPhonak app manual, about Noise Reduction, Speech focus, Dynamic control’s, etc, and being a tech guy, I’d like a thorough explanation about these functions.

I don’t like the fact, you have to go to the audi for firmware updates and that the VA doesn’t do remote programming. And, finally, even though my tinnitus is reduced, I wish the Marvels had the Tinnitus masker.

Anyway, thanks…

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Thanks for the feedback everyone…

James,
Keep a journal where you list what is working well and what is not working so well. Also note where you are or what you are doing when you are having issues.
As to the problems with music and TV, your audi can give you a music program that programs in more bass. They can also give you a program for speech in noise, restaurant, etc.

Ask the VA audi about any accessories they can get you to help listen to TV, phone, etc. they will get it for you.

I also started off at 100% of target and it took about 4 days to get used to the amplification and then when I would go in for additional tweaks it would take another 2-4 days to readjust to the new volume. I also had the mid ranges increased because I was still having problems hearing women and soft talkers.

Be patient and it will all work out for you.

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I too am a vet who got aids through the VA. VA audiology clinics vary from place to place. I asked for a Roger Select and was turned down. I plan to keep on asking. The clinic I go to always sets up aids for 100% of the prescriptive values. I have seen 4 different Audiologists so far, and have been told some pretty inconsistent things. Presently, I am on settings programmed only a week ago. My aids weren’t helping with voices in noise. They still aren’t, but sound so harsh I have to turn down the volume as much as I can to be able to wear them. I have had them since September. You were no doubt instructed to just wear them and that you would get accustomed to the way they sound. After 5 months, I still haven’t reached that point, and I don’t think I ever will. You seem to be more normal in that respect, which is good. You will know when your aids are really working when you notice an improvement in the areas that prompted you to seek help. Do go back and tell the Audiologist where your aids are not helping. It does take time, and your hearing may never be fully restored. Hearing aids are not a cure for hearing loss. They are more like a crutch for someone who has mobility issues. They help you get around better. Good luck in your journey with hearing assistance.

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I have been wearing aids from the VA for almost 15 years, I have never been turned down for what I need. John I would say you need the Roger select or pen. I have been to 5 different clinics in my 15 years and my moving around the country. I cannot tell you how many different Audiologist that I have seen and talked to. But I am now in a rural area of Arkansas and I have a great Audi that I have been seeing for over a year and he has bent over backwards to help me hear better. I often ask him to forgive me for pushing so hard for the best hearing I can get. But you see I do volunteer work to help other Veterans anyway I can, and that means I have to be able to hear and understand what they are saying. So I do ask for what I believe will help me to do this work. I wish I had been more forceful with getting what I needed while I was still working too, it sure would of made my job so much better.

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Hey John,

The only thing I’m currently doing is turning down the volume to -5 in the myPhonak app>Remote Control>AutoSense OS 3.0, until I have my follow-up audi phone call in March. I wish you could make adjustments to the HA’s while on a phone call, as the HA’s seem to turn all the way up, and the white noise is very distracting.

Yep, I made the mistake of saying “improve my hearing” in the context of my HA’s raising the volume to my prescription level. The audi just about had a fit and said “they are not bionic’s, they don’t restore your hearing.”

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I am doing the same, turning down the volume. I am not fond of the app. Any settings you make seem to disappear when you close the app. One thing about the Marvels I do like, and that is streaming with the TV Connector. I don’t care for the sound quality, it is harsh , but it makes watching TV so much easier. I had been doing my own programming, and liked the sound better when I did that. When I went back to the VA, they didn’t like that one bit. I agreed to stick with their settings for 2 months. When I go back, I am going to suggest strongly that they make some considerable changes. So far, they seem pretty inflexible.

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First of all, thank you for your service and welcome home.

Quick question: Is the VA not using the telecare abilities with the Phonak Marvel? If not, I certainly hope they begin to do so. It would certainly help with their backlog. From what I understand, the VA gives amazing hearing aids, and they try to do the best they can regarding service with greater demands and smaller budgets. I would think they would jump at the chance to utilize telecare.

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Shawn it is my understanding that the VA hasn’t gotten the approval to do so yet. I have had a few video conference calls from my doctor to check in on my BP issues so maybe they are getting it worked out.

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Hi Shawn,

My Lakewood/Tacoma, WA VA stated that HIPAA laws prevent them from currently providing telecare for hearing aids.

I was told and research shows that VA only provides premium hearing aids. I think it’s because the VA is evidence based and they purchase 20% of all hearing aids in the US.

And, because they’re evidence based, they use real ear measures and other technologies to prove Veterans are receiving real benefits from their hearing aids.

I think remote hearing aid programming would be great for Veterans, especially ones where travel is difficult. If I remember right, I was told because they are backlogged, they don’t provide telecare. That’s why drop-in hearing aid services are limited.

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I live in the Hot Springs area of Arkansas. The VA here has provided the best services that I have gotten from the VA. I only know of the one VA hospital that is in Little Rock, which is about 50 miles away, but there are small clinics in alot of the smaller cities all over the state. And they are all connected to the hospital by video calling equipment. But I haven’t seen so far that they do any remote adjustments for hearing aids, but I have seen them do video calls to check up on the the Veterans. I get an every other week conference call to check in on me as for as my blood pressure goes. And we have email to the Audiologists, and the different teams to check up on us. Also I can make appointments using the secure website. The VA is moving to make things better.

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I hope they can get it implemented. I think it would really be a great thing for Vets who can’t get into the clinic easily. I had a Vet buy new hearing aids from me a couple of years ago, even though he had some relatively new ones from the VA, because they needed a 30 day notice before he could get in. Plus, the guy was bedridden and could not be easily moved. I would just go to his house to take care of him. It was easier for him. If he had been able to use telecare, it would have been so much easier for him.

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I live in Hot Springs Arkansas and I normally get an appointment with in 2 weeks of from when I ask for one. And I have been known the get the m the next day

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m a HUGE fan of the VA. They work hard with fewer and fewer resources and (thanks to long wars) larger and larger caseloads. They’re heroes in my book.

One study also showed that the VA is the most efficiently run healthcare system in the world. I can believe it.

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It all depends on the clinic or the hospital

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VA, specifically their health care is getting better. However, the VA claims compensation process is still absolutely terrible and does harm and disservice to Veterans, IMO!

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