So you’ve realized you need hearing aids – what now? Researching hearing devices can be overwhelming because there are so many options and because hearing care is so individual. Here is our best advice for what to look for when you’re buying hearing aids.
First – take the time to acknowledge that you need hearing aids and what that means to you! Grieve the loss of your hearing and work to realize that help in the form of a hearing aid is a wonderful thing. You can go through this process before you even have your hearing assessment – think about your current feelings toward hearing aids and do some research on how far these devices have come in recent years. Hearing aids are a wonderful tool available to those with hearing loss – they are nothing to be ashamed about (and neither is your hearing loss)!
Hearing care providers and locations
Next, find a licensed hearing care provider you can trust. This person and the office they work out of are both crucial to your journey to better hearing. There are many things to keep in mind as you search for a hearing care provider:
- Location. How convenient is the office to you? If you live in a rural area, does the office offer virtual services? The first few months with hearing aids you may need to visit your provider multiple times for adjustments, so be sure to keep this in mind.
- Experience. How long has your provider been fitting hearing aids? Are they licensed as a hearing instrument specialist or audiologist?
- Support. Is the hearing care provider supported by a larger company? Companies like HearingLife provide support in multiple states which is important if you like to travel or spend extended time in another state. Larger hearing care companies also tend to have access to newer testing equipment and education opportunities.
- Vibes. Do you like the provider? Do you feel that they listen to you and understand what you’re struggling with? If you feel hesitant to ask additional questions or come back for adjustments, this provider may not be a good match for you. HearingLife has nearly 700 locations and you can always choose to visit a different office.
The latest technology
The next thing to consider once you’ve found a hearing care provider is the technology they offer. Some hearing aid centers only offer a single brand or type of technology, which can be limiting and may lead to you not getting the best hearing aids for your needs. HearingLife offers multiple brands and recommends the best one for you based on your hearing loss and lifestyle.
When researching online, you may come across recommendations based on the number of “channels” a hearing aid has. A few years ago this was crucial information, however, today’s modern hearing aids all have dozens of channels to program to your exact hearing loss. The technological features you should ask your hearing care provider about include:
- Bluetooth® technology
- Processing speed
- Background and handling noise reduction
- Water resistance
- Battery options – including rechargeable
- Feedback reduction
- Tinnitus support
These are just some of the modern features available in many of today’s top hearing aids. Depending on your lifestyle, some of these features may be more or less important to you – be sure to talk about it with your provider so you get the best recommendation.
Another technology that helps you get the best experience from your hearing aids is Real Ear Measurements. These are special readings that are taken after your initial hearing aid fitting to make sure your hearing aids are amplifying correctly for your hearing loss. Ask your provider if they can provide Real Ear Measurements or in-situ audiometry.
What style device is best for you
Many first-time hearing aid wearers are concerned about how hearing aids are going to look on their ears. The search for an invisible hearing aid is easy to do – and they do exist! However, choosing the smallest possible hearing aid comes with several trade-offs.
- Completely-in-the-canal hearing aids are not usually rechargeable. This is because rechargeable batteries are still larger than traditional lithium batteries used in very small hearing aids. Battery technology continues to evolve, but for now, the smallest hearing aids require traditional batteries.
- Invisible hearing aids don’t usually have Bluetooth. This is partially due to size – Bluetooth antennas require more space than many of the smallest hearing aids have available. It is also because the antenna does not work as well from inside the ear canal.
- The completely-in-the-canal hearing aid style completely blocks you from hearing sound naturally. This is important to know if you have a mild hearing loss or hearing loss in only the high or low frequencies. It is unlikely your hearing care professional will recommend this style for you if you are in one of these situations.
The most common style of hearing aid we recommend, and sell is a behind-the-ear style. There are several versions of this style for different types of hearing loss, but it is extremely versatile. Behind-the-ear style hearing aids have the most features and are smaller today than ever before. They are also quite discreet! Behind-the-ear hearing aids come in a wide range of colors to match your hair, skin or to stand out and wear your hearing aids with style.
Hearing aids are some of the most high-tech, tiny devices you can buy today. There are years of research and development behind these devices and the software that supports them. This means that budget is a big part of a hearing aid purchase. Along with considering all the above, look for a location or provider who offers:
- Return policy. Any hearing aid purchase should allow at least a 30-day return period. This allows you to try the hearing aids in your day-to-day life and make sure they are comfortable and helping you hear in your most important activities.
- Financing options. Another advantage of choosing a larger company like HearingLife for your hearing aid purchase is the ability to offer payment and financing options, like CareCredit®.
- A range of options. Typically, hearing aid technology is offered in levels – from ultimate technology (top level) and then 2-3 additional, lower-tier levels as well. Lower tier technology still helps you hear better, but at a more affordable price.
- Follow-Up care. Some hearing aid centers charge an additional fee for follow-up care or adjustments and others include all services for the life of the hearing aid in the initial purchase cost. This is something to consider when you look at the overall price of hearing aids.
Set your expectations
Hearing aids are not like eyeglasses. They take time to get used to and may require adjustments to get them just right. This is because you hear with your brain – and the brain takes time to adjust to changes in sensory input. When you buy hearing aids, plan to spend anywhere from 2-6 weeks adjusting to how the world sounds and getting used to things like air conditioner sounds, footsteps and clocks ticking. Part of your research when getting ready to buy hearing aids is learning about how to get used to wearing them.
You should also plan to make several follow-up visits to your hearing care provider and give them a list of what sounds are bothersome or situations are still difficult for you so you can get the best result.
To being your journey to better hearing, contact HearingLife to schedule a complimentary hearing assessment, and if needed, a 30-day risk-free trial.**