Considering Buying Hearing Aids? Here’s What to Ask Your Provider
These are the most important questions that you should be asking a provider if you are considering purchasing hearing aids.
1. Why did you recommend a specific hearing aid to me?
The starting point for success for any device is proper testing. This test is an audiometric evaluation done by a doctor of audiology. A hearing specialist or hearing dispenser can only test for the purpose of fitting a hearing aid. A doctor of audiology’s test is diagnostic.
Next, if hearing devices are recommended, ask the provider why they selected the device they are recommending. Is it the manufacturer that they prefer? Do they have access to more than one manufacturer? How many? Is the recommendation based only on what you can afford and your lifestyle? Ask if they have a way for you to test and compare different hearing aids in background noise so that you can make a determination for yourself of performance, sound quality and clarity of speech.
Always ask to try the device before you buy and ask if they have a testing protocol to test you in background noise. If this is not allowed and you have to purchase the devices before trying know that by law you have a trial period in which you can return the hearing aids and receive a refund. This should be clearly stated on the contract that you sign. You should NEVER have to pay a re-stocking fee unless you need custom made earmolds that cannot be returned.
2. What about bluetooth hearing aids, T- Coils and warranties?
Every hearing aid is going to have a unique warranty issued by the manufacturer that will cover specific defects and a one-time loss and damage. The warranty ranges from one to three years.
Bluetooth is a feature that is now available in most ‘receiver in the canal’ or ‘receiver in the ear’ style hearing aids. These are a smaller behind the ear style hearing aid and allow for streaming of smartphones to the hearing aids—including phone calls which will go directly to both ears. This will result in clearer phone calls with the amplification that you need for your hearing loss. Hearing the phone in both ears is a big difference from just one ear! This feature also uses an app that is designed by the manufacturer to allow for adjustments of the hearing aids. The apps vary in sophistication and features, all have the ability to find your devices if they are lost by location.
Telecoils are available on many devices. This can be a very valuable feature to have that will allow direct connection to a hearing loop. Some churches, public venues, will have a hearing loop installed. We encourage telecoils to be used for your television as well. Receiving the sound directly in the ear improves the clarity of the signal and results in a much-improved experience for listening. We offer in-home hearing loop installation, please contact us for more information.
3. How long will my Hearing Device last?
In our experience, typically with daily wearing and everyday wear and tear, hearing aids have a useful lifespan of about five years. During this time the component that is most sensitive to moisture, wear and tear, and wax is the receiver. In most hearing device styles, the receiver may be replaced in our office which is usually covered under the warranty of the hearing aid.
Daily cleaning and monthly maintenance as well as using a desiccant and a dryer will keep your devices performing optimally.
4. Can I just wear my devices when I need them?
One of the most important ways to experience success with hearing devices is to wear the devices every day, all day. If worn only “when needed” such as when going out of your home, dissatisfaction will occur. The reason why is that our brains will only accommodate and adapt to consistent stimulation from hearing devices. If only worn twice a week the brain responds as if this is new stimuli. If you are not wearing your devices regularly you can expect to always be disappointed with your ability to hear in noise, the annoyance of household sounds and even the sound of your own voice.
5. How well should I expect to hear in noise?
You are not alone if hearing accurately and with ease in noise is challenging. Not hearing soft sounds of speech can be responsible for some of this difficulty and hearing aids will certainly help. However, there are also three processes that occur in our brains that change with age and a hearing loss:
- How rapidly we process words
- Our ability to concentrate
- The storing of the word in our memory
Hearing aids can’t fix these. However, there are ways to strengthen these areas.
Hearing aids can provide audibility-access to speech sounds that were previously unheard. he better quality the hearing aid, less distortion will occur, if the hearing loss is mild to moderate. Hearing aids are able to provide more audibility for speech than non-speech sounds and will allow sounds to be at a comfortable volume. This is only if they have been properly fit. The other skills that allow us to hear in noise are skills that can be worked on and increased. We have games and tools to help you to improve these skills in our brain training program.
6. Should I get rechargeable Hearing Aids?
Some hearing aids have rechargeable batteries while others use a battery that must be replaced about once a week. Recharge-ability is a factor to consider if changing the batteries is difficult. Some rechargeable hearing aids give you the option to use a regular battery or a rechargeable which is a great option if you are traveling. It is a good idea to compare the costs of monthly battery costs versus a rechargeable option.
7. How do I know if this is the best performance that I can expect from my devices?
A great provider should offer you a way to test your hearing aids in noise. They should verify or test the settings of your hearing aids using real-ear probe microphones. These are the two biggest factors that we have found that equal great performance and raving fans in our office.
8. How do I choose a provider?
Look for a Doctor of Audiology versus a Hearing Specialist or Dispenser. There is a significant difference in education and this will greatly influence your outcome. A hearing device is an investment in your health, cost, time and can make permanent and lasting effects on your hearing and the clarity of speech.
We have found that when patients have gone to a big box store, purchased hearing devices online or at a discount, they were not receiving the right amount and type of sound. They ended up not wearing the devices and the changes they experienced were irreversible.
Interested in learning more? Attend one of our regular hearing solution events to learn more about our unique approach to hearing loss or give us a call at 916-646-2471.Contact Us Now