First of all, getting hearing aids is more than 50% about things OTHER than the hearing aids themselves. Your expectations about hearing aids, the support you have from friends and family, your audiologist’s skills (including their ability to explain things to you and understand your needs), and YOUR ear-brain system, all play major roles in your perceived success with hearing aids. Take this into consideration when choosing a practice.
What do you expect hearing aids to do for you?
– improve you ability to hear on your cell phone?
– talk to your coworkers?
– understand dialogue at the theater?
– hear the passenger in the car while you drive?
Talk to your audiologist about your goals so they can select the right hearing aids for you and explain if your goals are reasonable for the environments you are in and the nature of your hearing loss.
Bring a friend or family member to your first appointments
They need to understand hearing loss to help communicate with you better and it is great to have them around for support.
Stick with people who make you feel welcomed and at ease
Like any other doctor, you should trust the professional and personal skills of your audiologist and practice staff. Hearing aids are a medical device that requires a process unique to you, they are not a one-stop shopping experience (if you want to be successful with them).
Your ear-brain system
Hearing aids are aids, not cures. They are still sending sound into a damaged system. The hearing aid is only one piece in the puzzle of improving your communication. Two people with the same hearing test results can have very different outcomes with hearing aids. If you are interested in the workings of the auditory system, ask your audiologist to go into greater detail with you about your hearing loss and circumstances or schedule time to chat with me.
Questions I think are important:
– Can the hearing aids I purchase be programmed by an audiologist in another state? For example, if you move, decide to change audiologists, or if they go out of business.
– How easy is it to make appointments for urgent problems? “my hearing aid just stopped working, I don’t know why, and I am going on vacation in 2 days!”
– What is and is not included in the cost of hearing aids?
*Term of service warranty through the manufacturer. More expensive hearing aids often come with longer warranties. However, warranties may be extended before they expire, no matter how expensive the hearing aid was to start.
*Term of the loss and damage policy
*Number of visits or length of term of covered services with the audiologist
*Cost of appointments with audiologist once service term has expired. For example, $50 for a check-up appointment annually.
*Cost of repair through manufacturer once service warranty is expired. For example, $200 to $400 depending on age of hearing aid and length of warranty applied post repair.
If you go to more than one practice, the answers to these questions can help you compare their prices more accurately. For example, a hearing aid that costs $1500, has a 1 year service warranty, and includes 2 follow up visits with the audiologist would be LESS desirable than the exact same device for $2200 with a 3 year warranty with 3 years of visits with the audiologist.
Chances are, at some point your hearing aid will get clogged with wax, have a short in the circuit, have moisture damage in the speaker, or something. The cost of services after you purchase is important. Tell your audiologist if you are rough with your things, sweat a lot, or have a lot of ear wax build-up, so they can chose the best device for you.
A good audiologist wants your investment to last you and serve your needs as best as possible. Use them as a powerful resource but respect their time.