With so many advertisements and models of hearing devices, knowing what to ask before you buy hearing devices can seem like a daunting task. Being prepared can help you through your first visit with your hearing care provider.
The National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has as age-related hearing loss (known as presbycusis).
Fortunately, most cases of presbycusis can be treated with hearing aids. And, since research has proven that untreated hearing loss can put you at greater risk for developing other health problems, including social isolation, wearing hearing aids can be a healthy thing to do for one’s self.
The first step is to admit you’re having hearing problems and make an appointment with a hearing healthcare professional. Ask your family physician for a referral.
Before your appointment, do some research to educate yourself so that you are informed with some of the questions you want answered about what to ask before you buy hearing devices. Make a list of questions to take with you to your appointment. Make a list of your hearing priorities as well. Do you want phone calls to be easier? Do you want to be able to hear the television or favorite music better? Do you use personal electronic devices frequently, such as a smartphone or computer?
If possible, take a friend or family member with you to your appointment, and ask them to take notes. It’s always helpful to have a second set of ears when you’re navigating medical situations — especially when yours may not be working as well as they used to.
Be prepared for a hearing loss diagnosis
If the hearing professional determines you have a sensorineural hearing loss like presbycusis, hearing aids may be the recommended course of treatment. Although these medical devices won’t restore your hearing to normal, they will improve your listening, speech comprehension and overall communication.
Like most health issues, research shows that the sooner you begin treating hearing loss, the happier and healthier you’ll be. But before you make the purchase, here is a list of questions you’ll want to ask to make sure you’re investing in the right type of hearing devices for your budget, lifestyle and degree of hearing loss.
What type of hearing aids do you recommend for my hearing loss?
Hearing aid manufacturers offer many different models with various features. Ask the audiologist to provide you with clinical studies and evidence to support which features and models will work best for your particular hearing needs.
How much do they cost?
Hearing aids range in price from $1,900 to $4,000 each, depending upon the type of technology they use. Most people with presbycusis will need two hearing aids, as this type of hearing loss is usually bilateral. Hearing aids aren’t usually covered by insurance, but don’t let this stop you from getting treatment. Ask about financing options.
Is there a warranty?
Hearing aids typically include a warranty. Make sure you understand what components and services are covered on your hearing devices before the purchase.
When should I expect to replace them?
Most hearing aids last indefinitely. Manufacturers will service them for up 5-7 years. After that time they can often times be serviced by repair centers that specialize in hearing device repairs.
What kind of trial period do you offer?
Most hearing centers offer a trial period of 30- days. There is not test that can provide you with the value you will receive with improved hearing, so this period gives you time to experience the difference hearing aids can make in your day-to-day activities and ensure they meet your needs.
How often do I need to have them adjusted?
You’ll want to make sure your hearing devices keep up with any changes in your hearing, so ask how often you’ll need to come in for a check up. Most devices today are manufactured with special coatings that have greatly increase reliability and hearing is typically stable for 5-7 years.
As you have just read, there are quite a few topics to address regarding what to ask before you buy hearing devices. Many first time hearing device users comment “I wish I would have done this sooner.” The key to hearing your best is to acknowledge you’re not hearing well and see a qualified hearing healthcare professional for assessment- you will find relief knowing whether you truly have hearing loss or not.