How to be a Smart Consumer of
Hearing Aids

 

Boys Town Hearing and Balance Center

You probably know someone who purchased hearing aids but doesn’t wear them. Maybe you are one of the many Americans who keep your hearing aids in the dresser drawer instead of in your ears. When fit and tested properly, the benefits of using hearing aids can be life-changing, allowing people to enjoy social interactions again. Just like other digital technologies, hearing aids continue to improve rapidly. Many people using current digital hearing aids report that sounds seem natural and that their ability to hear in background noise is improved (although never perfect). Today’s hearing aids have options that allow for wireless connections to land-line and cell phones as well as to televisions and other devices. Hearing aid prices can vary with different levels of technology and most health insurance plans don’t cover hearing aids, so it is important to be a smart consumer. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your hearing aids:

  • Ask about Real Ear/Probe Tube Microphone Measurements. Find an audiology professional who tests the hearing aids on your ears using real-ear measurements. It is important to verify that the hearing aids are able to make different levels of speech loud enough for you to hear well and are comfortable for listening in different situations. Just connecting the hearing aids to programming software on the computer is not enough to know how they are working in your ears.
  • Have realistic expectations. Hearing aid technology continues to improve but hearing aids still don’t restore hearing back to normal. It takes time and experience wearing them to get the most benefit from hearing aids. Some companies make claims that “digital” hearing aids fix all possible problems with listening in noise and understanding speech. The reality is that everyone, even people without hearing loss, has some difficulty listening and understanding in noise. People with hearing loss usually have more difficulty hearing in noise, even when digital hearing aids are used. Your audiology professional should discuss your listening difficulties with you and make a plan for addressing them. Following up with your audiologist is important so that the hearing aids can be fine-tuned and benefit measurements can be completed to track your progress.
  • Trial period. Make sure your audiologist offers a trial period (usually 30 days). There is usually a return fee if a person decides they do not want to wear hearing aids after trying them (we charge $250). The return fee covers the costs for evaluating your listening needs and fitting the hearing aid(s). Many audiology professionals will exchange hearing aid models, if you decide to try a different hearing aid model or style within the trial period.
  • Read the fine print. If you sign a contract, read it carefully. Different audiology professionals and companies have policies that may vary in whether or not they offer a trial period or in what type of return fee they charge. All fees and policies should be clearly laid out in a sales contract and a copy of the contract should be provided to you.

By being a smart consumer, you can ensure that you make the best choices when purchasing hearing aids. Hearing well with hearing aids can improve your overall quality of life by improving your ability to communicate with family, friends and co-workers. When you consider how many people you interact with every day, those benefits can be exponential.