I’m curious, what are the things you find most difficult about “shopping” for hearing aids? When I say shopping, I’m including everything from the time you first became aware of a hearing loss. In other words, when navigating the hearing health world (including non-medical options like OTC), what did you find particularly difficult or confusing?
Yipes! That is a tall order! Cuz I have to step in my Time Machine and dial it back like 35 yrs to my first pair of aids. Way back then, I just looked up audis in the yellow pages? I lucked out, getting not only a great audi - but his wife owned and ran the “Barbie Museum” bar none! So troops of enthusiastic kids would parade by the audi clinic to go upstairs to the museum to look at 30 years’ worth of Barbie dolls. What a HOOT!
Flash forward to now, and I’m pretty confident and set in my ways about what make/model I’m interested in. Shopping for aids is all about finding out which ones are: 1.) best at speech comprehension in LOUD noise, 2.) waterproof (yeah, a daydream that has simply not come true) 3.) compatible with a handful of other useful accessories (TV streamer, mic to use in restaurants).
Price is not on the top 5 list. It’s all about performance, BT stability, and access to a patient audi who will optimize the use of the aid “solution” for my lifestyle.
As a seasoned vet by now, I’d say the only thing that still “confuses” me is the lame, empty marketing that accompanies new releases. Surf up to a hearing aid maker’s site and you’ll see a dozen meaningless, vacuous statements that are not only NOT true in some cases (i.e., “waterproof” aids), but also way too basic for someone like me who can articulate exactly what I’m looking for. HAs have become pretty comparable across the board, but the makers simply don’t describe the features/programs in a meaningfull way to seasoned users.
For instance, at this page, I’d like links from ALL the features listed to a paragraph description of what it does, whether it can be set as a dedicated program or is already built in to the AutoSense.
I look at the long list of Phonak Lumity Life features and have NO IDEA what they do for the most part. Is “Speech Enhancer” better than “Stereo Zoom”? Do I need either one if I have “Speech in Loud Noise” as a dedicated program?
As a very experienced user, I need more nuances about the aids, the features, and how why there are so many of them. Am I missing out on something? I simply don’t know.
Knowledge, like anything you start with, there’s a learning curve. A primer on terms and issues would be great.
How to shop for audiologist. Between my own experiences and those shared online by others, there is a lot to be said for being selective of our audiologists. If there’s a vibe of 'gram/bam/thank you Mam, ignore the user, or an inability to resolves issues during a trial, it’s time to move on and not get tied down.
I’m going to assume that you are talking about the first time ever…Over 4 decades ago when I was leaving military service, it was noted that I had a hearing loss. Fortunately I had the VA to turn to for the aids and supplies, so cost has never been an issue. They always said it was a minor loss, but gave me hearing aids.
I was shocked at the things I could hear…many thingsI
I just blindly took the hearing aids that were offered. It is only relatively recently that I have self advocated with the VA audio clinic. On my most recent hearing aids, I insisted on a disposable battery model with long life, cuz I was sick of changing the batteries every other day.
I was shocked when they offered me Phonak aids with 675 batteries. They said I wouldn’t like them because they were so large. I absolutely love them. Besides, the hearing aids of the 80s were even larger than the ones I have now.
I do hate when audiologists tell me what I want as if I had no opinion, or that I’m not entitled to an opinion…So, if I have understood your question…There it is…If I misunderstood…oops.
I’ve got my first Widex, in the canal in my late teens.
After it was bought, there was no follow up visit, and I wasn’t told that I should have one. I came back few months later because I couldn’t deal with the occlusion effects, discomfort and felt that HAs weren’t helping me. I was told told that I will get used to them and my brain is adapting.
It didn’t happen and I abandoned them after two years.
I wasn’t given other options, wasn’t informed properly and it was expected that I will take blindly what was given.
After few years I’ve got another CIC, that one too was hugely disappointing, trialing or checking other stuff was never offered.
15 years later. I’m a techie working in IT, did my research, trialed several HAs with 2 audis for almost 4 months.
I finally picked ones which seemed the best, but audi couldn’t get them to where I needed them to be and straight refused to perform some basic changes like adding a different program.
I was done. I was being treated like a sheep.
I bought the same HAs on my own and DIYed them, Took 4 months of trial and error, but I’m finally happy with them and wear them all the time.
Perhaps I’m just unlucky, but for me, audiologists were the biggest pain point.
Also, finding on my own how each of HAs behaves in different environments (and which one behaves the best), it’s tedious and slow. It should be simulated by audiologist.
When shopping for the last one, it was important for me to get the streaming/connectivity right, and the state of it was utterly confusing at the time and didn’t get better IMHO.
“It will take your brain a couple of months to get used to them” and “you get 30 days to see if they help you”
And “how does that sound?” (in a quiet carpeted office).
Then when you tell them that you’re not understanding speech that much better, the audiologist cocks her head in a “that’s strange!” pose. I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough.
For the first time, and after ten plus years of wearing hearing aids, I had an audiologist make adjustments from first fit just a few days ago.
Pain point number one is price (“you mean… for each?”).
Backtracking a little, acknowledging your hearing loss is difficult obviously. Then, selecting an audiologist. How do you know who’s good? You don’t. Then the pricing. Not just how high they are, but how variable. It feels like numbers are plucked out of the air. Paranoia sets in a little. You get the feeling that to you it’s a tragedy. To the other person, it’s an opportunity.
And you never know if your experience is as good as you’ve got a right to expect. Cursory and rudimentary questions in follow up, no metrics. I get that’s largely just the nature of the hearing loss beast, but still…
Anyway, glad I got that out of my system.
During my first visit I had a nasty perception of being gouged out of money and being taken advantage of during personal tragedy.
What’s more, I was neither informed nor aware what’s included in the price.
HAs shouldn’t cost as much as they do.
Interesting question. I would put my pains into three categories. First finding the Audiologist to work with. Remember my first experience with a new Audiologist. A very nice person but only wanted to know Oticon. It was not a good fit for my hearing loss. Two finding information on the hearing aid being offered. This forum and others are really helpful. Last break down of cost. How much does the hearing aid cost how much is the service provider service. Based on my experience it hard to get transparency in getting a hearing aid and it’s cost and service can very from Audiologist to Audiologist. It’s why it is helpful to have videos by Dr. cliff and forums like this to reference when getting ready to buy a hearing weather OTC or perception version.
Same with DuoPhone. Speech Enhancer and Stereo Zoom are features within the programs. They are NOT separate programs.
But Speech Enhancer is only adjustable via the App on most programs.
For me, the biggest pain point is the cost. My hearing loss is not “bad enough” to get NHS hearing aids (UK), but given all the information out there about the link with untreated hearing loss and dementia (my father and grandmother both had dementia) I didn’t want to wait. I was recently looking at a power wheelchair and wondering if I could afford it and then I realised it would cost significantly less than my hearing aids did!
For me the biggest pain point is the lies of audiologists. They all say “you’ll get used to it,” “you’ll understand speech.”, “buy this!”. And none of them say that a damaged cochlea will not translate all sounds! I solved the (second pain point) price problem by buying hearing aids and accessories second hand and setting it up DIY.
Biggest pain point is cost, plus pricing opacity. Nobody here advertises prices, and if you inquire they go all over the place. Also, there ought to be better options for self-fitting.
Yeah @AbramBaileyAuD, as someone mentioned the learning curve, it is fairly steep… The hype around the hearing aid industry, is somewhat “Disappointing”, their advertising for the most part, “Disingenuous”… Closely followed by our expectations, no doubt, created by the advertising, which are to all intensive purposes, “Delusional”… In short, the 3 D’s, we all expect too much as we chase the “Pipe Dream”, of hearing in noise, perhaps we should all temper our expectations? Maybe, if the hearing aid manufacturers where more candid, honest, and upfront, new hearing aid user’s wouldn’t be so utterly disappointed… I know after SSNHL, I was totally shocked by what hearing aids actually are… Assistive Listening Devices, with far too many limitations! As always, YMMV… Cheers Kev
I think price; finding a good audiologist/fitter; navigating the different brands; and communicating with imprecise terminology are the biggest pain points.
- Am I really hard of hearing?
- How do I find a good person/business to do a hearing test? (Yellow pages way back!)
- Do I need 2? (1/2 the cost!)
- They’re uncomfortable! (Become a stress meter; uncomfortable? take them out!)
- I have them now, but I can’t hear!
- Did I make a bad choice?
Best resource for me is this forum, and a book recommended here.
"HEAR & BEYOND
Live skillfully with hearing loss
Shari Eberts/Gael Hannan
ps Buying my recent hearing aids has been far more stressful. And they are the 3rd set of Phonaks I have had in about 20 years.
1- Finding a good fitter
2- Finding a good hearing aids with disposable batteries
3- Cost fittings & HA
4- Dealing with Phonak’s (including Mr Roger) (HA manufacturer’s) extortionist prices be it 1st purchase or service after warranty.
Got my first pair of aids this past January at age 66. Sticker shock was the biggest hurdle. Was quoted $6300 for top level Starkey aids. I have since retired but was very concerned about spending that amount of money going into retirement. Luckily I found this forum and learned about the different ways to purchase aids, had I not found this site I doubt I would be wearing aids today.
I believe that the audi should never tell a client “you will get used to them”. If they are not “working” well when you leave their office, they will not ever work well.
Of course, further adjustments should help improve them but do not tell me I will get used to it.
Pain points - $ cost, finding a good audiologist, audiologists not trying to minimise cost of HA by checking if a lower cost HA model is adequate for the client’s needs.
For first-time hearing aid users that statement has an element of truth to it.