As we age our hearing naturally declines. Add in situations that are known to damage hearing, such as working in loud environments, and many people can find themselves really struggling in their daily lives. It is common to downplay hearing loss, and tell ourselves and others it isn’t that bad. Getting a hearing aid makes many people ‘feel old’ and they avoid them. But, hearing loss happens to the best of us, and it is not something to be ignored. If the time has come to consider a hearing aid, here are a few important points to keep in mind.
Many people don’t get their hearing tested until they have been having trouble for years—on average seven to 10. A lot of damage can occur during that time, and the longer you suffer with hearing loss, the harder it is for the brain to adjust to a hearing aid. So, if you have been putting it off, vow to take care of the problem now and not later.
It is also important to consider what you want out of a hearing aid. Naturally, it is to hear better, but you likely have specific issues that are concerning you, such as not hearing the television or having trouble following the sermon at your church. Give this some thought beforehand to ensure you are matched up with the most appropriate hearing aid.
Bring a Friend to the Examination
If you are struggling with your hearing, it is a good idea to bring along a friend or family member. Naturally, there is a good chance you may miss a thing or two. Having a second set of ears there is certainly helpful. Plus, between the two of you, you will remember more of what the doctor said to you.
Do Your Homework on Providers, and Consider Interviewing Multiple
Like working with any other sort of professional, to get the most value out of your hearing aid and the most effective guidance, you want to work with someone who is skilled and knowledgeable. There are two types of people who provide hearing aids—audiologists and hearing instrument specialists. Audiologists have a master’s or doctoral degree in audiology, so that is something to keep in mind. Check out the sites of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the American Academy of Audiology for more information on finding a hearing aid provider.
It is also a good idea to get some references from your healthcare providers.
Make Sure to Try Before You Buy
Make sure you give a thorough testing to any hearing aid you are considering for purchase. The audiologist or hearing instrument specialist should be able to set you up with a hearing aid programmed to the level of your hearing loss so you can know exactly what it would be like to use it. You can also partake in a simulated sound field, where you can see how the device works in a variety of different settings—be sure to experiment with various noisy settings. This is an important decision, and it is important to remember not all hearing aids are the same. Take your time, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.
It is also important to remember hearing aids are usually not covered by insurance, and the average mark-up is 117 percent, so if you are comfortable with it, you may have some room to negotiate the price.