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Buying Hearing Aids

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Hearing loss can make life frustrating. Not being able to clearly hear conversations—in person or on the phone—can lead to isolation and depression. Most recently it was also linked to a higher risk of dementia. But there is no reason to suffer in silence. Hearing aids have come a long way and are now almost invisible, taking the stigma out of wearing them and enhancing the quality of life.

There are a variety of considerations that go into the purchase of hearing aids, including types, styles and specific solutions to your own hearing deficit. and the National Council for Better Hearing offer this top 10 list of tips for anyone planning to buy new hearing aids.

1. Choose a qualified hearing professional – Several types of hearing professionals including audiologists; hearing aid specialists; and ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors can provide information about, and help with hearing aids. Hearing professionals with strong qualifications such as appropriate education, license or certification, experience and a good reputation in the community are generally a wise choice.

2. Research hearing aids types – Learn about hearing aids types and hearing technology to gain a basic understanding of the many choices available.

3. Undergo a hearing test and complete hearing evaluation – A comprehensive hearing test and evaluation is the first step toward identifying hearing loss and finding the right hearing aid for a specific hearing problem. An online hearing test is a good way to get started, but it is essential to visit a hearing professional for a comprehensive hearing evaluation.

4. Honestly identify hearing needs – Some hearing aids are well suited for noisy situations; others are not. Some hearing aids types are perfect for an active lifestyle, while others are better suited for quiet activities such as watching television or listening to music. Features, controls - even colour - may be important factors to consider when choosing a hearing aid.

5. Understand hearing aids prices – Hearing aids are a major purchase and as such, the buyer should receive a written contract which includes the cost of the hearing aids, as well as any services provided by the hearing professional. These services may include fitting, training and follow up appointments. Insurance coverage and financing may also be available to help make hearing aids affordable.

6. Get a comfortable fit – Custom earmoulds ensure the best fit when purchasing new hearing aids. New hearing aids require a period of adjustment, and any level of discomfort could make the transition difficult.

7. Follow-up – Adjusting to new hearing aids takes time as the brain learns to hear again in a new way. Follow up appointments with a hearing aid specialist are imperative to get the most out of new hearing aids.

8. Ask about the return policy – Most hearing professionals will offer a trial period for new hearing aids. Some may charge a fee if the hearing aids are returned; others may offer the opportunity to try a different hearing aid style.

9. Understand the warranty – As with any major purchase, hearing aids may come with a warranty to cover repairs or replacement. An extended warranty may be available to protect in the event of loss or damage to hearing aids after the initial warranty has expired.

10. Consider using hearing aids with other assistive listening devices – Many hearing aids are designed to work well with phones and audio equipment. New wireless hearing aids may be the ultimate in convenience for the hard of hearing. A hearing professional can answer questions about the compatibility of hearing aids with assistive listening devices.

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