*This post is Step 4 in a 5 step series of posts titled the Ultimate Guide to Buying Hearing Aids. Be sure to check out the other steps at the end of this post.
We Hear with Two Ears
Just like it would be more difficult to see with one eye, it is more difficult to hear with one ear. Generally, if you have a hearing loss in both ears you should wear two hearing aids. Hearing with two hearing aids is called binaural amplification and is shown to improve speech understanding especially in noisy environments, better ability to locate where sounds are coming from, better sound quality, and less effort required for hearing.
Your Hearing Healthcare Professional will tell you if you are only a candidate for one hearing aid but in most cases two hearing aids are better than one.
Hearing Aids Do Not Restore Your Hearing to Normal
If you ever see someone that tells you that a particular hearing aid is perfect or will restore your hearing to normal then turn and run.
Hearing aids cannot restore your hearing to normal nor are they perfect…they are used to AID you to better hearing.
Hearing aids are a great way to help you manage the negative effects of hearing loss but they are not a cure for hearing loss. As soon as you take the hearing aids off you will still have a hearing loss. However, waiting too long to start wearing hearing aids can have negative effects.
Several studies have shown that an untreated hearing loss (not wearing hearing aids when a hearing loss is detected) can result in increased anxiety, depression, memory loss, and may also be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease.
No Two People are Exactly the Same
Just because you know someone that has had a bad experience wearing hearing aids does not mean your experience is going to be bad.
No two people are going to have the same experience.
Their hearing loss is not the same as yours, the shape of their ears is not the same, and their manual dexterity may not be the same as yours.
There are several reasons why that person may not have been successful with their hearing aids. That does not mean that you will not be successful. The most important thing is that you give your Hearing Healthcare Professional the chance to improve your hearing and heed their recommendations.
They are your number one advocate for better hearing.
What is Included in the Cost
Hearing aid pricing will vary depending on the style and technology chosen, anywhere from $1000-$3500 per hearing aid. Prices will also vary slightly depending on where you purchase them. This often times depends on what is included in the cost of the hearing aids.
Some offices may bundle the cost of the hearing aid and all professional fees into one amount, while others may charge you for the cost of the hearing aid but all professional fees are not included.
Office visits may be included for the lifetime of the hearing aid, making the cost of the hearing aid seem higher compared to the provider who includes office visits for one-year after the initial fitting of the hearing aids and then charges a fee for each visit thereafter. This may mean in the long run you end up paying more even though you paid less up front.
Does the cost of the hearing aids include batteries? It is important to know all the details of what you are buying up front and this should all be described for you in your purchase agreement. If you are shopping around for hearing aids at different offices in your area, it is also important to make sure you are comparing the same technology across offices. You may find a hearing aid that seems like a “good deal” but it may not be up to the same standards as the more expensive hearing aid down the street.
If you are buying a digital hearing aid for less than $1000 you may want to question the quality.
If financial issues are a concern, speak to your Hearing Healthcare Professional. Financial assistance for hearing aids varies from state to state. Most organizations that provide hearing aid assistance are based on financial need or specific requirements such as age or veterans status. They should be able to provide you with information for organizations who provide assistance for hearing aids or help you set up a payment plan. Be sure to also check with your health insurance policy regarding your hearing aid benefits.
Battery Life and Size
When choosing a hearing aid it is important to consider the batteries. The smaller the hearing aid, the smaller the battery will be and the more often it will need to be replaced. This can vary anywhere from between 3 days to 17 days.
If you are worried about having to change batteries too frequently then you may want to consider a hearing aid that takes a large battery. Your Hearing Healthcare Provider will let you know what size battery your hearing aid takes and where you can purchase them. Hearing aid batteries are typically sizes 10, 312, 13, and 675 (from smallest to largest).
Hearing Aid Warranties
All hearing aids come with two warranties through the manufacturer:
There is a loss and damage warranty which includes complete replacement of the hearing aid after loss or irreparable damage. The warranty against loss and damage can be anywhere from 1 year to 3 years for each hearing aid depending on the manufacturer and level of hearing aid technology. You will be responsible for paying the deductible on the replacement, usually anywhere from $150-$350 if a replacement is issued.
Included with the hearing aid is also a manufacturer’s repair warranty. If the hearing aid is not functioning properly and your Hearing Healthcare Professional is unable to repair the damages in the office, it will be sent back to the manufacturer for repair. Depending on the manufacturer and level of technology purchased, your repair warranty will be anywhere from 1 year to 4 years. Typically there is no charge for in-warranty repairs.
Know the Trial Period
Hearing aids should come with a trial period. This may also be called an adjustment period or adaptation period. This is a specified amount of time that your Hearing Healthcare Professional will give you to be able to return or exchange the hearing aids. This will usually vary from 30 days to 90 days.
Your trial period expiration date should be in writing on your purchase agreement along with the professional fee that will be kept if your hearing aids are returned.
It may take several weeks for you to adjust to using hearing aids so having a sufficient trial period is important to enable you enough time to decide whether you are benefiting from the hearing aids. If not, you should be given the option to return them.
It takes some time to get used to the sound of new hearing aids, even if you have been wearing hearing aids for years. Your brain needs time to adapt to the sound. Don’t give up right away and talk to your Hearing Healthcare Professional if you have concerns.
Controlling Your Hearing Aids
Volume control or no volume control.
That is the question to ask your Hearing Healthcare Professional.
With the advancement in digital hearing aid technology the need for buttons and volume controls on the hearing aids has decreased.
Digital hearing aids are able to sample the environmental sounds and automatically adjust the sound within your comfort range. However, some people still feel the need to be able to manually control their hearing aids, either with a volume control, program button, or remote control.
The automatic feature of the hearing aids may not meet your needs in 100% of the environments that you are in, so having the ability to make adjustments on your own is a safety net. But, if you don’t want to worry about fiddling with your hearing aids every few minutes, then the automatic feature of the hearing aids may be enough for you.
Be sure to discuss whether you want the ability to control your hearing aids with your Hearing Healthcare Professional before purchasing.
Step One: Choosing Where to go for Your Hearing Needs
Step Two: Determining Your Need for Hearing Aids
Step Three: Deciding Which Hearing Aid is Right for You
Step Four: 8 Things to Know Before Buying Hearing Aids
Step Five: What to Expect When Wearing Hearing Aids