NORMAN — Dear Savvy Senior, What tips can you offer people who are shopping for hearing aids?
— Overwhelmed Senior
With so many choices and options available today, shopping for a hearing aid that meets your needs, lifestyle and budget can be challenging. Here are some tips that can help you locate a good hearing aid provider and choose an appropriate aid.
Choose a provider: The first step in buying a hearing aid is to choose a good provider. The best option — as recommended by Consumer Reports — is an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat doctor) who employs an audiologist that fits and dispenses hearing aids.
An otolaryngologist will first examine your ears and rule out any medical conditions such as a tumor, bacterial infection or ear wax that can affect your hearing. Medicare will cover the medical exam and an audiologist’s test if ordered by a physician.
If you can’t find a conveniently located doctor’s office that dispenses aids, an independent audiologist or hearing instrument specialist is a good alternative. To search for these professionals in your area, see howsyourhearing.org and ihsinfo.org. Big box retailers like Wal-Mart and Costco also sell hearing aids.
Or, if you’re a veteran, be sure to check with your nearest VA health facility. Eligible veterans may be able to get hearing aids for free.
During your visit: After you locate a provider, when you go in for your first visit, you need to be prepared to discuss your lifestyle and hearing needs. For example: Do you just want to hear the TV or other people speaking? Do you talk on the phone a lot? Do you need to hear in a lot of noisy places, like restaurants? Knowing your priorities will help your provider determine what style and hearing aid technology is best for you.