What Are Hearing Aid “Programs” or “Memories?”

If you're in the market for hearing aids, and especially if you've already seen a hearing provider, you've probably heard of hearing aid "programs" or "memories" by now.

In this post I'll be using those two terms interchangeably, but they are the same thing.

As a hearing aid wearer, programs give you much more control over your hearing aids, and go way beyond simple "up and down" volume adjustments.

Having a good understanding of hearing aid programs will empower you to make smarter decisions when it comes to deciding exactly how you'd like your hearing aids to perform.

What are hearing aid programs?

Here is the simplest explanation possible.

Imagine a car radio with 3-5 different "preset" buttons for your favorite stations.

When you want to hear a certain type of music, you'll select that preset, and voilà, that's what you hear.

Hearing aid programs or memories are essentially the same thing as that radio preset button.

You probably know by now that digital hearing aids are completely programmable, and your hearing provider will adjust them based on the results of your hearing test.

Here's the thing- a lot of times when you get hearing aids adjusted in the provider's office, they sound good there, but once you get in the car, or go to a restaurant, they don't sound quite right.

This is where hearing aid programs come in.

When you get in environments that don't sound right, you can select a preset program on your hearing aids (which was programmed by your hearing provider), and suddenly things will sound different.

In essence, when you change the program of your hearing aid, you are changing the frequency response of the hearing aids, or in layman's terms, you are changing the way they amplify sounds around you.

How do you change a hearing aid's program?

First of all, in order to change programs, you have to ensure that your hearing aid is configured with multiple programs.

Almost all digital hearing aids today do have programs, but sometimes they need to be activated and configured by your hearing provider before you can actually access them from your hearing aids.

If you're not sure if your hearing aids have this functionality, ask your hearing provider.

Once your hearing aid programs are configured by your hearing provider, changing the programs is simple.

The majority of the time there is a small button on the hearing aid which when pressed will switch programs.

To get an idea of how this works, check out the video below.

What kind of programs can hearing aids have?

In the video above, you can hear the patient referencing his "TV" and "Master" programs.

All hearing aids will have a "master" program.

The master program is the one you will wear the hearing aids on the majority of the time- think of it like home base.

With the other programs, the possibilities are endless.

Usually your hearing aids will have room for (1) master program, and (2-5) other customization programs such as TV, restaurant, car, music, etc.

Your hearing aids have likely come preconfigured from the manufacturer with all of these various programs available, and usually it's just a matter of your provider clicking a few buttons so you can access them.

Of course, like your master program, each of these programs will need to be fine tuned so they sound good to you.

How do I know which program I am on?

You may have noticed that in the video above the gentleman is actually hearing what we call "indicator tones" in his ears each time he pushes that button.

Those tones are usually a voice or a series of beeps which let you know that you have successfully changed programs, and which program you are on.

When the gentleman above goes home and decides to watch TV, he'll simply hit that program button as shown in the video, hear the indicator tone say "TV", and then he'll hear the TV more clearly.

When he's done watching TV, he'll simply hit the program button again and he'll hear "master", and he'll be back at his home base program.

The same principle would apply for all other programs like restaurants, outdoors, etc.

It should be noted that some advanced hearing aids will automatically switch programs when you change environments, so you may not have to physically change the program at all.

Some people like that automatic function, while some think it's a bit unpredictable and they'd like more control.

Either way, your hearing provider will be able to set the programs up in a way that makes using them easy and intuitive.

If you use a remote control, or app with your hearing aids, you'll also probably have a user interface (screen) that'll show you which program your on as well.

And that's all there is to it.

If you aren't currently utilizing various programs, getting programs set up by your provider is a simple way to get a lot more out of your hearing aids.

Although certain aspects of having programs added to your hearing aids may seem confusing, it's actually very simple to understand, and once added to your hearing aids they should be a breeze to navigate through.

Jeff is a California licensed hearing aid dispenser and the President of ZipHearing- one of the largest discount hearing aid suppliers in the United States. Jeff lives in San Diego, CA with his wife and 2 young daughters. You can learn more about hearing aids and watch Jeff on ZipHearing's Youtube channel.

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