It’s a Team Effort: My Steps and Advice for Buying Hearing Aids
The first lesson that I learned as I went in search of hearing help was that buying a hearing aid is a team effort.
The “hearing aid team” includes the instrument expert and the client or patient. I had to partner with my audiologist. She could not do this job all by herself.
The many decisions that a hearing specialist makes for us rely on the information that we – the clients – provide. While technology is very important, it is the honest cooperation between the “team members” that will make the technology work to our advantage. As I found out, even personalities count.
Here’s the steps I took, and my advice for buying hearing aids:
Getting a plan
Before the appointment, think of anything that can help the instrument expert chose the type of hearing aids that are best for you. Write it all down so that you don’t forget.
Here are some general ideas:
- Lifestyle counts! Where will the instrument(s) be mostly used? At home? At work? During meetings? In social settings, such as places of worship, restaurants, plays?
- Does it matter how visible the instrument might be? Size can limit features.
- Is price a worry?
- Will you have trouble handling tiny batteries? Ask about a rechargeable hearing aid.
During the appointment
If you’re afraid that you might be overwhelmed, take a friend along to take notes and help listen. In fact, having friends or family join your appointment has been shown to result in higher satisfaction with the provided healthcare services and superior audiologic outcomes. For the family, they experience a greater awareness of the effect of hearing impairment, less third-party disability, and improved relationship quality.
- Is simpler better? Complicated technology can be mind-boggling. For example: Do you want or need wireless connections to other devices, such as smartphone, computer etc? Will you be comfortable using them? Do they increase the price?
- Do the instruments contain telecoils or T-coils for tapping into a hearing loop? If so, have them activated. Ask about this technology. Loops are quite popular in Europe. In the United States, we are making progress on getting public places “into the Loop.”
- While the hearing aids are being tuned, describe the changes as precisely as possible. What does it “feel” like? Remember that the specialist cannot hear what you hear or how you hear it. It is your hearing, and you are the expert.
- Will your hearing aids have “programs or memories” for different listening environments, such as home, restaurants etc.? Many people feel that these are helpful. Make sure that you know how to turn them on and off.
- Don’t forget to discuss the price, trial period, services and warranty.
After the appointment
Keep a diary! The first setting is generally not the final one. You must return for fine-tuning. This is when any specific information will greatly help your instrument specialist as he/she makes adjustments.
- Are the hearing aids comfortable to wear?
- Do you have trouble putting them on?
- When do they help? Do the programs work?
- Are there times when they make things worse?
- How do they sound? Are the “esses” too hissy? Do they squeal?
- Do you get a “plugged-up” feeling?
In the end…
Yes, buying hearing aids is indeed a team effort. So, think about your hearing needs, lifestyle and worries and do share them with your hearing specialist. Because, as the automobile tycoon Henry Ford once said: “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
She is the author of the book What Did You Say? An Unexpected Journey into the World of Hearing Loss ─ now in its second edition. She tells her story and pays forward what she had to learn the hard way about ears and hearing loss.
Her main concern is public education on noise-induced hearing loss and its prevention.
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