1. Get a comprehensive hearing test
There are many components to a comprehensive hearing test. It’s not just 30 minutes in a soundproof booth with you pressing a button when you hear a sound. The more comprehensive the hearing test, the better the hearing instrument specialist or audiologist can assist with your hearing aid selection and the more precisely your hearing aid can be programmed to meet your needs.
When you or friends and family already know there’s evidence of hearing loss, that comprehensive hearing test is really important. If your initial hearing test appointment is less than an hour, you likely aren’t getting the depth of testing required to deliver best hearing with your aids.
2. Not all hearing aids are created equal
Every hearing aid has its own unique features and benefits. Keep in mind, the smaller the hearing aid, the fewer the features. As hearing aids get smaller, there’s less space for the technology required for complex hearing loss. If you want to reduce certain background noises or boost the sound frequencies you struggle to hear, you may not be able to do that with all tiny hearing aids.
Think about your dexterity as well. Changing tiny batteries, or even putting your hearing aids in or on, may be a challenge if you have fine-motor difficulties. Then there’s matching your hearing aid to your lifestyle. Do you want it to connect to your cellphone or to your television so you can listen to TV at your personal volume without affecting others?
And there’s no need to let your vanity suffer just because ‘invisible’ hearing aids may not be right for you. There are many hearing aid choices that are hidden behind or on top of your ear.
3. Know who you’re buying from
In Ontario, the national hearing aid clinic chains are mostly owned by hearing aid manufacturers. They only sell their own products. If you want more choice while shopping for hearing aids, and finding the right aids for you, you may want to consider booking an appointment at an independent or family-owned clinic. Family-owned hearing aid clinics are generally independent and can offer more than one manufacturer’s products as well as delivering very personalized service.
4. Review the service plans for after-purchase care
After shopping for hearing aids and deciding on your purchase, you need to care for them and for yourself. It can get expensive if your hearing aid clinic doesn’t offer you a lifetime or comprehensive service plan with regularly scheduled appointments to ensure you’re hearing well after your purchase. In Ontario, hearing aid clinics generally use the Association of Hearing Instrument Practitioners of Ontario (AHIP) fee guidelines for individual after-purchase services like hearing instrument reprogramming, wax removal, hearing aid cleaning or a hearing reassessment.
You want your hearing aids to deliver the best possible hearing which can take reprogramming and sometimes retesting. Even adapting to your hearing aids can go more smoothly with the support of your hearing aid clinic.
Make sure you’re fully informed on what you’ll have to pay for after purchase before you commit to your purchase.
5. Get financial support if you qualify
In Ontario, the Ministry of Health through their Assistive Devices Program may help cover some of the cost for your hearing aids. Choose a clinic where the staff is not only willing but happy to help you with the paperwork for this financial support.
If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident or are a Veteran of the Canadian Forces, your hearing aid clinic should be knowledgeable of processes and assessments as well as demonstrate a willingness to advocate for you.