Getting the right hearing aid for my 12 year old

Posted by mommyd @mommyd, Wed, Sep 18 2:02pm

We’re very new to this. Found out our 12 year old needs hearing aids. We met with our ENT’s hearing aid specialist and he showed us two kinds of hearing aids. It pretty much felt like a sales pitch. he spoke for over an hour and told us why he recommends what brand and type for my son. He also showed us the price list for the different levels. My question is – should we shop around for better prices, better kinds, etc? Is this like buying a car? or is the price pretty much the same across the board. Thanks.

From my experience, as well as talking with other hearing assisted friends, if you can afford it at this time, my suggestion is to go to a university-affiliated audiologist. I did this for my first hearing aid and found their expertise to be very helpful. By way of comparison, I went to a Costco and did get a comparable hearing; but, while I found it half the price, missed the experience in finetuning the hearing aids.

From talking with others who went to places like Miracle Ear, they weren't happy and some described it as you suggested, i.e., a sales pitch.

I would check out what financial assistance is available from your state for a child.

Peg in Pennsylvania

Liked by mommyd

REPLY

@mommyd, you're asking the right questions. You'll find some answers for other members in these discussions:

* Hearing aids https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/hearing-aids-1/
* Getting new hearing aid – maybe Oticon Opn S BTE PP – thoughts? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/getting-new-hearing-aid-maybe-oticon-opn-s-bte-pp-thoughts/

You may also be interested in this archived video
* Video Q&A about Hearing Loss in Children https://connect.mayoclinic.org/webinar/video-qa-about-hearing-loss-in-children-1/

I'd like to bring @joangela and @bdzwahlen into this discussion who have experience with hearing loss since childhood.

Mommyd, while we wait for others to chime in, can you tell us a bit more about your son's hearing loss and the types of devices that were recommended by your specialist?

Liked by mommyd

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I have had Meniere's, right ear only, for over 30 years. Meniere's is more complex because it fluctuates from really bad to almost okay days, offers recruitment where wearing an aid is downright painful because something like someone next to you turning a page slices through your head and distortion where you hear sound but cannot decode it. My right ear is supposedly not aidable due to recruitment. I've gotten by for years, as age-related deafness increased in my good left ear…until a year ago, when the monster got out of the closet and I went bilateral. At that point, I bought an aid from Costco for my "good" ear. The audiologist there immediately determined that the least expensive aids they sell (about $1,500/pair) would not work for me and set me up with a Bernefon aid (made my Oticon) for my good ear–$1,600. Then, in May, I had a much more serious downturn where much of the time I was in a silent bubble. I bought a used IPhone6 because the Bernefon is designed to work with one, and the Costco audi paired the aid and my phone to work together.

Then I went to a hearing clinic that does cochlear implants (CIs). The CI test showed that I have 55% comprehension in a sound booth, which is 5% too "good" for a CI in my bad ear. The woman who administered the hearing test was dismissive of the Costco aid, suggested that I buy two ($3,000 each) aids and come back in six months for a repeat test because I might have lost more hearing (or have a bad day). Yikes!!

I asked for an appt. with their audiologist. She said that most Costco audis do a very good job of selecting the right aid for each person (they don't sell just one or two brands and models), that Costco charges about half as much as other places, that it has an extremely liberal return policy, and that their aids, at least beyond the entry level ones, offer the same accessories (mics, etc.) as any quality aid. Since my aid is only a year old, she sent me back to Costco to get a mic to pair with it for meetings that I attend where I have a very hard time understanding technical discussions. The Costco audi has adjusted my aid as my hearing has changed, always with a noticeable improvement. Today, she paired the new mic with my aid and taught me how to use it, and how to pair it with the Android tablet I bought to use Live Transcribe, a speech-to-text app. The other thing I learned is that aids generally have a life span of 5-7 years, both because they eventually fail and because there are always new features. So the cost, which is substantial, is NOT a permanent investment but something we need to amortize over about 6 years, even if you buy a gadget that removes moisture at night (especially important if you've sweated during the day).

An aid that is paired with an IPhone also means that conversation is delivered directly (streamed) into your ear(s). I had been avoiding phone calls at all costs, but this makes it possible. With a child in school, learning new things every day, you definitely would want an aid or aids that pair with a mic. In a class situation, the mic could be placed on the teacher's desk (or speaker's lecturn) to enable the child to have the sound delivered into his ear(s). That's far better than relying on a speech-to-text app, because that means you lose the benefit of speech (lip) reading while you're peering at your tablet or phone.

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mommyd, I agree with Colleen that if you can share more about your son's hearing loss, it would be helpful. Choosing a hearing aid depends on the severity of his loss. Manufacturers do not put a MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price), at least that are known to the end users, on their products so prices can fluctuate. You may also find a cheaper device, but it may lack some desirable features (a telecoil, or Bluetooth connectivity comes to mind). There's also the cost for "bundling" of service. Make sure you know if a programming change is needed, if there will be a cost and for how long this option is available. There are different levels of professionals so that will factor in to a price. I would recommend finding out if there is a local chapter of HLAA, Hands & Voices, or AG Bell near you. You'll get a good feel of which hearing care providers are in your area and how they rate. You'll also gain some new friends that share hearing loss as their common bond.
Tony in Michigan

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Mommyd, the answer to your question of who and where to go for hearing aid information and purchase is, to me, dependent on the fit of the person looking for a hearing aid and the provider. I am not a child, 75 this weekend, and, like many, my experience of audiologists and hearing aids has been grim. At present, I use a hearing aid specialist who is sort of similar to a Costco hearing aid service I visited. The hearing aid specialist did all the same hearing tests, asked me for preferences of hearing aids (meant I had to do my homework before this conversation), and goal of hearing gain. His is a family-owned business for over 40 years and I have been satisfied by this relationship. I know from hard experiences over 25 years that I have to do my search first beforehand so that we can more likely have a level discussion. After 3 years, I continue to use this particular hearing aid specialist along with a university-related cochlear implant audiologist who specializes in the brand of my CI. The key to any professional relationship is that the professional listens to you, gives eye contact, and responds with personalized information that you have requested, what I call the "fit" of the relationship.

Liked by joyces, mommyd

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@hearingpeg

From my experience, as well as talking with other hearing assisted friends, if you can afford it at this time, my suggestion is to go to a university-affiliated audiologist. I did this for my first hearing aid and found their expertise to be very helpful. By way of comparison, I went to a Costco and did get a comparable hearing; but, while I found it half the price, missed the experience in finetuning the hearing aids.

From talking with others who went to places like Miracle Ear, they weren't happy and some described it as you suggested, i.e., a sales pitch.

I would check out what financial assistance is available from your state for a child.

Peg in Pennsylvania

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Thank you. Great to know about Costco – my husband did mention checking it out but I just figured the service would be lacking.

REPLY
@colleenyoung

@mommyd, you're asking the right questions. You'll find some answers for other members in these discussions:

* Hearing aids https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/hearing-aids-1/
* Getting new hearing aid – maybe Oticon Opn S BTE PP – thoughts? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/getting-new-hearing-aid-maybe-oticon-opn-s-bte-pp-thoughts/

You may also be interested in this archived video
* Video Q&A about Hearing Loss in Children https://connect.mayoclinic.org/webinar/video-qa-about-hearing-loss-in-children-1/

I'd like to bring @joangela and @bdzwahlen into this discussion who have experience with hearing loss since childhood.

Mommyd, while we wait for others to chime in, can you tell us a bit more about your son's hearing loss and the types of devices that were recommended by your specialist?

Jump to this post

Thanks so much for the info! I will check out those links.

My son has mild-moderate bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. He currently uses an FM system at school. The audiologist suggested the Sivantas Styletto Deluxe and we were quoted $4900 for the pair.

REPLY
@tonyinmi

mommyd, I agree with Colleen that if you can share more about your son's hearing loss, it would be helpful. Choosing a hearing aid depends on the severity of his loss. Manufacturers do not put a MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price), at least that are known to the end users, on their products so prices can fluctuate. You may also find a cheaper device, but it may lack some desirable features (a telecoil, or Bluetooth connectivity comes to mind). There's also the cost for "bundling" of service. Make sure you know if a programming change is needed, if there will be a cost and for how long this option is available. There are different levels of professionals so that will factor in to a price. I would recommend finding out if there is a local chapter of HLAA, Hands & Voices, or AG Bell near you. You'll get a good feel of which hearing care providers are in your area and how they rate. You'll also gain some new friends that share hearing loss as their common bond.
Tony in Michigan

Jump to this post

Thank you. I will definitely look into local chapters – great idea. Definitely have a lot of learn still.

REPLY
@mommyd

Thanks so much for the info! I will check out those links.

My son has mild-moderate bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. He currently uses an FM system at school. The audiologist suggested the Sivantas Styletto Deluxe and we were quoted $4900 for the pair.

Jump to this post

MommyD, because you have a recommendation about the aids your child needs and the cost, it might be good to check out your local Costco. You'll need to know why the Sivantas aids were suggested, i.e., what features they have. The $1600 (each) Bernefon aid I purchased at Costco is for moderate to profound loss, has a telecoil and Bluetooth connectivity, plus a $200 mic to pair with it. From what I've seen online, this mic isn't as good as the Roger Select, which can be set directionally, but which costs almost $900 and only works with the top Phonak aids.

All of the people at the Salem Costco hearing center are knowledgeable and easy to work with. There's no charge for return visits to have my aid programmed to suit me best as my hearing continues to change (hah…I mean, gets worse). Nothing the audi at Costco has told me has been proven false, except by one hearing test person who believes all Costco aids must be junk. Again, the audi in the same clinic gives Costco very high marks for quality of aids and accessories and service. The Costco audi has current info about speech-to-text apps, which none of the people at the specialized clinic possessed–not the doc, the hearing test person, or even the audi. The clinic audi did have some tips about living with hearing loss, including a book she recommended, "Learn to Lipread." Another good thing is that Costco has an extremely good return program with no risk whatsoever if the aids aren't right for you. First, they fit you with an aid and have you walk around the store to see if it seems to work. Then, they send you home with it, on a trial basis. Although you have paid for it at that point, the price is 100% refundable for a set period.

The only strike against the Salem Costco (which serves a very large rural area) is that it's always busy. If you call and no one answers, there's just a "thanks for calling" message without a way to leave one. However, twice I've just dropped in and gotten my aid programmed. This Costco is the closest one to me, just over 60 miles away, but not far from my regular weekly trip to the Portland area.

Another thing you'd want to look at when buying aids for a child is how good the guarantee is, both against damage and loss.

REPLY
@joyces

MommyD, because you have a recommendation about the aids your child needs and the cost, it might be good to check out your local Costco. You'll need to know why the Sivantas aids were suggested, i.e., what features they have. The $1600 (each) Bernefon aid I purchased at Costco is for moderate to profound loss, has a telecoil and Bluetooth connectivity, plus a $200 mic to pair with it. From what I've seen online, this mic isn't as good as the Roger Select, which can be set directionally, but which costs almost $900 and only works with the top Phonak aids.

All of the people at the Salem Costco hearing center are knowledgeable and easy to work with. There's no charge for return visits to have my aid programmed to suit me best as my hearing continues to change (hah…I mean, gets worse). Nothing the audi at Costco has told me has been proven false, except by one hearing test person who believes all Costco aids must be junk. Again, the audi in the same clinic gives Costco very high marks for quality of aids and accessories and service. The Costco audi has current info about speech-to-text apps, which none of the people at the specialized clinic possessed–not the doc, the hearing test person, or even the audi. The clinic audi did have some tips about living with hearing loss, including a book she recommended, "Learn to Lipread." Another good thing is that Costco has an extremely good return program with no risk whatsoever if the aids aren't right for you. First, they fit you with an aid and have you walk around the store to see if it seems to work. Then, they send you home with it, on a trial basis. Although you have paid for it at that point, the price is 100% refundable for a set period.

The only strike against the Salem Costco (which serves a very large rural area) is that it's always busy. If you call and no one answers, there's just a "thanks for calling" message without a way to leave one. However, twice I've just dropped in and gotten my aid programmed. This Costco is the closest one to me, just over 60 miles away, but not far from my regular weekly trip to the Portland area.

Another thing you'd want to look at when buying aids for a child is how good the guarantee is, both against damage and loss.

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Hello. It looks like I definitely have to reconsider Costco. I will call our local Costo and inquire. I'm just so overwhelmed with information and since it's just a huge expense, I don't want to make the wrong decision. Thank you!

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@mommyd

Hello. It looks like I definitely have to reconsider Costco. I will call our local Costo and inquire. I'm just so overwhelmed with information and since it's just a huge expense, I don't want to make the wrong decision. Thank you!

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@mommyd, Costco sells several different brands of hearing aids. I bought my Resound pair from them, and I have always found Costco audiologists wonderful to deal with. And Costco’s customer service in that department cannot be best.

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@capausz

@mommyd, Costco sells several different brands of hearing aids. I bought my Resound pair from them, and I have always found Costco audiologists wonderful to deal with. And Costco’s customer service in that department cannot be best.

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@capausz Are these licensed Doctors of Audiology or Hearing aid technicians?

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Wizard49, Depends upon the location. Part of the "fit" is how well you (or your child) relates to the person. If the woman I see at Costco is only a tech, she's extremely good and knowledeable, keeps up to date on new tech. The hearing tests she administered appeared to be far more comprehensive than one I had earlier this year at a hearing clinic, with an audiologist. The other people in the dept. are also far more than just sales clerks, know quite a bit, although they leave the really tech questions to the audiologist–or tech if she isn't certified. She has a genuine desire to make things better, rather than to sell anything.

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@joyces

Wizard49, Depends upon the location. Part of the "fit" is how well you (or your child) relates to the person. If the woman I see at Costco is only a tech, she's extremely good and knowledeable, keeps up to date on new tech. The hearing tests she administered appeared to be far more comprehensive than one I had earlier this year at a hearing clinic, with an audiologist. The other people in the dept. are also far more than just sales clerks, know quite a bit, although they leave the really tech questions to the audiologist–or tech if she isn't certified. She has a genuine desire to make things better, rather than to sell anything.

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Through my own personal negative experience with Hearing aid techs in the past, I now will only see a licensed audiologist. Their training, education and expertise is much more extensive than hearing aid techs. I’ve had techs put in hearing aids not conducive to my hearing loss, replace the tubes with wrong sizes, fit an ear mold improperly and on and on. I say go at your own risk but for myself personally, I only trust a licensed audiologist.

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