What Do I Do With Old Hearing Equipment?

What should I do with previous generations of CI processors that I have around the house?

A family member passed away and now I have her hearing aids.  Who could use them?

What should I do with extra batteries, cables, and accessories that I don’t need anymore?

My child recently got bilateral CIs and doesn’t need his hearing aids now.  What can I do with them?

How can I safely dispose of hearing aid batteries when they die?

  • For previous generations of CI processors, it is smart to save at least the most recent generation as a back up, and have your audiologist program it as close as possible to your current maps (there may be some limitations in the previous generation’s processing strategy that don’t allow it to be a perfect match, but you want it to be programmed well enough that it would be functional if you have to use it in a pinch.

  • If you have an old, but still functional, CI processor, it may be worthwhile to keep it around for use during “off label” activities like swimming, doing a color or mud run, or other activities where you may not want to risk your up-to-date everyday processor.

  • For very old generations of CI processors or very out of date hearing aids, you can:

    • Donate them to your local audiology center, AVT practice, or graduate school program for SLPs, TODs, or audiologists (perhaps they can be used in training students)

    • Attach them to a doll or stuffed animal to make a toy with HAs/CIs (be sure to remove batteries and use hot glue to attach all small parts before giving this to a child)

    • See if a local school or children’s museum would like to use them as part of their science curriculum or an exhibit

  • If you have a pair current, still-usable hearing aids that is no longer needed (for example, after CI surgery or in the case of someone who has passed away), donate them to your audiologist’s office.  They can be refurbished to serve as backups for people waiting for repairs or added to a loaner bank.  Hearing aid loaner banks are especially important for parents of children who must complete a HA trial before receiving their CIs.  Many times the children are clearly CI candidates, and loaner banks save the parents from having to buy thousands of dollars of hearing aids that they know their child will only use for a very short time.

  • Sometimes local charitable organizations will take donations of hearing aids.  When choosing a hearing loss charity, it is important to pick an organization that is committed to not only providing the hearing equipment, but also providing ongoing care and therapy to the recipients, and training and capacity building to help local professionals grow their skills in serving people with hearing loss.

  • There are many groups on the internet to buy, sell, or trade equipment for HAs, CIs, and Bahas.  Because these are medical devices that are regulated by the FDA, sale of the device by anyone other than a licensed audiologist or hearing aid distributor is against FDA regulations.  It can be very tempting to sell an old processor to make up for some of the cost, but it contributes to a lessening of standards in the profession overall.  Just because you have good intent and are doing so honestly, what is to stop the next person from putting himself forward not as a parent or recipient, but as a professional, and selling these goods?  Selling medical items “under the table” also contributes to a black market for these supplies and causes issues with prices and price gouging.  I cannot recommend this.

  • If you have extra cables or accessories that are unopened (big tip: do not open any accessories in your CI kit until you are absolutely sure you can use them), you can often return them to your manufacturer for a monetary refund or to swap out for other products that better fit your needs.  If the pieces are opened, your audiologist may be able to swap them out for you with things they have in stock, or he or she may be able to use them as loaners for other patients in your clinic.

  • Hearing aid, cochlear implant, and Baha batteries are toxic and should be kept out of reach of children at all times.  They are also dangerous to throw away with your regular trash.  Many electronics shops and audiology offices have battery recycling bins.  Save yours up (in a safe, high place away from children), and bring them in to recycle them properly.

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