10 things you need before buying hearing aids

Contributed by Joy Victory, managing editor, Healthy Hearing

Have you finally decided it's time to stop missing out on the important sounds of your life and take action to correct your hearing loss? That's great! According to the Hearing Review, people with hearing loss wait an average of seven years to get help. That's a lot of missed punch lines, important details in business meetings, sweet sentiments from a loved one, cheerful bird songs and laughter from grandkids.

In fact, your hearing aids will likely improve not just your ability to communicate but also your health. That's because hearing aids are linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline and other health benefits. But hearing aids are a major purchase, so it's important to make sure you're prepared with these 10 tips.

10 things we recommend before buying hearing aids

  1. Hearing test
    The first thing you need is a thorough hearing test and evaluation from a qualified hearing healthcare professional. Our consumer-reviewed directory can help you find a provider near you. Hearing tests are easy and painless. Most insurance companies cover the cost of hearing tests, too.
  2. Priority list for your hearing needs
    Your hearing healthcare professional will do far more than just test your hearing on your first visit. You will also have a discussion about your lifestyle. Is listening to your favorite TV shows a big priority for you or would you rather prioritize being able to understand coworkers better? Maybe you wish to stream music wirelessly through your hearing aids while taking walks or have easier one-on-one conversations at home. Whatever your priorities, communicate them clearly to your hearing care provider so they can more easily determine which products are right for you.
  3. Financial plan
    Unfortunately, hearing aids are not covered by Medicare or most third-party payers. While many people are working to change this, hearing aids remain a major out-of-pocket expense. Help is available through financing programs, Vocational Rehabilitation if you are still working, grants and charitable organizations. Do your homework so you can make a plan to pay for your hearing aids and stay within your budget. Your hearing care provider should give you several options that will work for your hearing and your wallet.
  4. Medical clearance
    If your hearing test indicates you may have a medical problem contributing to your hearing loss, make sure you see a physician to get a thorough work-up before pursuing hearing aids.
  5. Realistic expectations
    Many hearing healthcare professionals think one of the most important factors in the success of their hearing aid patients is understanding that while today's hearing aids are amazing in their technological capabilities, they still cannot reproduce natural hearing. In excessively noisy environments, even normal hearing people have difficulty hearing every word clearly, and you may also experience some challenges even with the best hearing aids.
    Also, it takes time to get used to hearing aids. You may even find you hate your hearing aids at first, but eventually you'll find them invaluable.
  6. An open mind
    If you have preconceived notions about your hearing loss or what hearing aids are right for you, be ready to have those ideas challenged. Hearing aids have come a long way, technologically speaking, over the past decades, and you may be surprised to find the vast array of features and attractive styles that are available now. Your hearing loss severity or type may mean only certain devices will work for you. Trust the process and the advice of your hearing care professional. Don't just assume you'll want the tiniest or cheapest option.
  7. Motivation to hear better
    Your hearing healthcare professional will go to great lengths to make sure you succeed with your new hearing aids, but you'll get better results if you put some effort into the process. Being engaged, providing valuable feedback about your experiences and keeping your follow-up appointments will help your provider make the right kinds of adjustments to your hearing aids so you get the most benefit.
  8. Positive attitude
    As with most things in life, you will get the most from your hearing aids and your hearing healthcare provider if you stay positive. Having a good attitude and a sense of humor can help you get through most any challenge your hearing loss presents.
  9. Support system
    Many new hearing aid wearers have been encouraged to take the leap by a family member or loved one who has become frustrated with longstanding hearing loss. Before you start the process, discuss your decision with family, friends and even coworkers. Advocating for yourself with them and asking for their support during your journey to better hearing will make you even more successful.
  10. Last but not least, the right hearing care professional
    Buying hearing aids isn't like buying a typical consumer good. These are highly sophisticated medical devices that require the expertise of a professional with experience in counseling and fitting. A good working relationship is key, so be sure you feel comfortable with your provider and have a good rapport. Look for an office that keeps hours that are convenient for you so you can make your follow-up appointments easily.
Have you finally decided it’s time to take action to correct your hearing loss? Here are the top 10 things you need before you buy hearing aids.