Beginning to wear hearing aids is a big step for many, and choosing the right hearing aids may seem daunting. This month’s Elder Voice, written by Dr. Susan Marynewich, discusses what to look for.
There are five primary considerations when purchasing a hearing aid:
- Your lifestyle and listening needs
- Your ability to manage the hearing aids
- The hearing care provider
- What is included in the cost of the hearing aids
- Whether there is a trial period
It is a very good idea to bring someone with you to the initial appointment. A lot of information will be discussed and it can be helpful to have someone to assist in the decision making and/or to ensure that all of the information is clearly understood.
Hearing aid technology ranges from economy level to premium level. As the level increases there are two major differences: 1) the hearing aids will manage background noise differently and 2) they will function more automatically. These differences mean that the more active you are socially (e.g., if you like to go to restaurants, the theatre, shopping, sporting events) or the more frequently your environment changes throughout the day, the more premium you should consider going with your hearing aid technology. So the best option depends on what is right for you. A thorough assessment of your lifestyle should be conducted by your hearing care provider to help them guide you in choosing your optimal technology level.
Managing hearing aids
There are several other factors that you should consider before you buy your hearing aids. Many are now designed to be virtually invisible, but smaller ones may not be the best choice if you are visually impaired or do not have good manual dexterity. You should be allowed to handle the different options to help determine your comfort level with the device you choose. Keep in mind that smaller hearing aids will have smaller batteries which may need to be changed more often. Some hearing aids are more durable and require less maintenance than others. They should also be measured while in your ear at your first fitting to ensure they are functioning properly for your hearing loss.
Choosing your hearing care provider
You want to be certain first and foremost that you like and trust the person you will be working with. It may take several appointments to fine-tune the hearing aids to suit your needs and there will be ongoing maintenance. It is also important to consider whether your provider has the right equipment to enable them to come to you if you are cannot attend appointments in the office.
Your provider should conduct their own thorough hearing test. They should be able to answer all of your questions, display a thorough knowledge of hearing loss, hearing aids, and what different hearing aid manufacturers have to offer.
What is included in the cost of your hearing aids
It is important that you are informed from the outset as to what is included when you purchase your hearing aids. For example, warranty periods vary from one to five years and discounted hearing aids may have a shorter warranty period. In-house servicing may only be included for a certain period of time and batteries may not be free. Ongoing servicing and maintenance is important–find out what the charges will be after the warranty has expired.
Before you make a final commitment, there should always be a trial period with the end date clearly outlined in writing at the time of your fitting. Some providers have a free trial period. It should also be made clear whether you will receive a full refund within your trial period if you decide to return your hearing aids or whether you will be responsible to pay a fee.
How To Love Your Hearing Aids
With this article, we give you some tips on how best to acclimate to wearing hearing aids.
The most important thing to remember about having hearings aids is that it takes some time to get used to the sound produced by them. It is not exactly the same as with your natural hearing. Different people experience this differently. Also, the longer you have had a hearing deficit, the longer it may take to get used to the new sound. But if you use them slowly, little by little, you will get used to the sound; after a while you will not notice a difference. Often people who have had some reluctance or difficulty in the beginning later say they cannot understand why they waited, and the benefits are very much worth it.
It may help to have the level of sound adjusted gradually, so that in the beginning the difference between what you have been used to and what you can now hear with the aids is minimal. As you become accustomed to the change in sound, you can have them adjusted.
Your hearing aid provider is there to help you acclimate to the them. If the sound is difficult or if there are other problems, go in to see them. There should be at least one and ideally more, scheduled appointments soon after you first receive the hearing aids. These are meant to adjust them and work on other issues that may arise.
As noted in the article above, hopefully you will begin using the hearing aids during a free trial period. So if the ones you have do not seem to be meeting your needs, and you have tried having them adjusted, speak with the provider about trying another type. For example. a behind the ear one might be more comfortable than one that fits in the ear alone, or one with more automatic adjustment might help. You have the right to try more than the first one provided to you.
After you have had the hearing aids for a while, remember that they will need some cleaning and maintenance. Make sure you understand what needs to be done, when, and how to do it. This will help you maximize their functioning.