How do I choose the best hearing aids?

Posted by dkeefe @dkeefe, Nov 1, 2018

I currently have Starkey brand hearing aids which I have had for 4 years. They work well, but I have some issues with them. I am looking for replacements (they are behind the ear type) and would like to know what is available in similar quality and cheaper. I am located near Atlantic City and would like to know if there is someone in the area that offers something similar and carries various brands, not just one

@thumperguy

I paid an Audiologist around 5 G’s for Oticon a few years ago. Later learned Bro-in-law got an exam and the H-aids at Costco for around $1700. I felt like the chump that had been “had.” Don

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Hi, my husband has Oticon as well and at year four his last exam they are saying maybe need new ones. My husband is a music lover and feels these are the best but we are hearing so much about Cosco brand we are thinking should we join just to go in for an exam and learn about them. Your thoughts. Thanks, Joanne

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A reputable audiology (doctor/s of audiology) office should offer several brands that address the needs of a variety of hearing loss situations. The advantage of buying from an AuD is that by spending the money with them, you get unlimited adjustments and software updates, you work with someone who knows you and your hearing needs and they will usually have a “loaner” you can use in case your aids need repair.
I have worn hearing aids since 1994. I used Resound, Oticon and Phonac over the years. Because my last set of HAs were Resound, when I got a Cochlear Implant I was able to continue using one HA as it syncs with my cochlear processor.
I strongly believe that folks with hearing loss – most often progressive – need to use recommended HAs that respond to their individual changing needs.
Cheap may not get you where you need to be and cheap may cost your more in the long run when you are disappointed with your hearing experience.

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@mothermary1 and @thumperguy

Let me jump in. Costco may be a good choice for first time hearing aid users. Their prices are lower because they buy in volume. However, even though they carry several major brands, they may not have the newest or most current version of that brand or may not have all the features you want . I have heard that some of their hearing aids are locked…meaning they can’t be adjusted by anyone other than Costco.
They may not be using best practices guidelines. Research has shown that they also have a low percentage of repeat customers for whatever reasons. And you do have to join.

My feeling is that , if you have hearing aids from a reputable audiologist , you should stay with them. I agree with @lizzy102 in her observations and I am not “knocking” Costco . Some buyers have been happy with them. As @lizzy102 indicated….more severe to profound loss
is not a good fit with Costco.

FL Mary

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I'd say get a good hearing test first! Then, for me I have SEVERE hearing loss, I lost my newest set,so it would take weeks for the VA to replace so I looked online , I found the same high priced behind the ear Aids for $1,000 a pair & they could program them with your test ! Advanced Technology's

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@cobraguy223

I'd say get a good hearing test first! Then, for me I have SEVERE hearing loss, I lost my newest set,so it would take weeks for the VA to replace so I looked online , I found the same high priced behind the ear Aids for $1,000 a pair & they could program them with your test ! Advanced Technology's

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For anyone that depends on a hearing aid to participate in their world, loss or damage to one is truly an anxiety crisis. I have a severe loss and found a suitable replacement aid for $120 that when fitted with a spare ear mold I had worked exceeding well until my primary aid could be repaired. I call it my Xanax aid.

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@miker8888

For anyone that depends on a hearing aid to participate in their world, loss or damage to one is truly an anxiety crisis. I have a severe loss and found a suitable replacement aid for $120 that when fitted with a spare ear mold I had worked exceeding well until my primary aid could be repaired. I call it my Xanax aid.

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In My Humble Opinion there is ZERO hearing aids that will correct SEVERE hearing loss, all those on line sites will tell you that!What's the name I'll pass it on if real!

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@imallears

@mothermary1 and @thumperguy

Let me jump in. Costco may be a good choice for first time hearing aid users. Their prices are lower because they buy in volume. However, even though they carry several major brands, they may not have the newest or most current version of that brand or may not have all the features you want . I have heard that some of their hearing aids are locked…meaning they can’t be adjusted by anyone other than Costco.
They may not be using best practices guidelines. Research has shown that they also have a low percentage of repeat customers for whatever reasons. And you do have to join.

My feeling is that , if you have hearing aids from a reputable audiologist , you should stay with them. I agree with @lizzy102 in her observations and I am not “knocking” Costco . Some buyers have been happy with them. As @lizzy102 indicated….more severe to profound loss
is not a good fit with Costco.

FL Mary

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Yes, I agree that having a well educated hearing healthcare professional, usually a clinical audiologist with AuD after their name, is the right place to go for testing, and for fitting. Audiologists are recognized as 'the gold standard' by The Hearing Loss Assn. of America (HLAA). However, HLAA also recognizes that many people cannot afford the expense of hearing aids.

At the very least, get testing done by an AuD. Request a copy of your audiogram/testing so you have it if you choose to go elsewhere for fitting.

I am cautious about buying hearing aids from big box providers or via mail per TV advertisements. But, I know several hard of hearing people who have been happy with that type of purchase. One size does not fit all. Much depends on the severity and type of the hearing loss.

Regardless of where you purchase hearing instruments, it is important to understand the trial period that is given to you by the 'fitter', whether it's an AuD audiologist or someone else. That time allotment is extremely important, and it is written in 'ink' in most cases. If you decide to return hearing aids a day later than that trial period allows you are likely out of luck whether the product cost hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars. Use the trial period in every possible situation so you know if those hearing aids are working well for you. If, after a few weeks of use they are not, take them back for adjustments AND ASK FOR AN EXTENDED TRIAL PERIOD.

Most providers will give you 30 days. A few will allow 60. However, Costco allows 180 days or 6 months. This is a huge difference. It is one that I hope the AuD professionals in the field will consider. Far too many people who buy hearing aids get frustrated with them at first and take them off. Everything sounds different. Everything sounds louder. It takes time for the brain to adjust to this new method of hearing. That 30 day standard might not be long enough. Further advice: WEAR THEM. Don't put them in the dresser drawer. You will get used to them in time.

Many of us have frustrations with technology. Think about your cell phone. Upgrade and you have a whole bunch of new things to learn. It's hard, especially for we seniors who were not brought up with all this tech stuff! Hearing aids are like that too. They have 'bells and whistles' in them that can be confusing. It takes time for the provider to teach us how to use them. Time is $, so it is not always doled out the way we need it to be. You have to be proactive in insisting that you are taught how best to use those new hearing instruments.

A couple things I always recommend: 1. Insist on manual volume controls. While it sounds kind of cool to have automatic volume controls, it's not so cool when you're in a noisy setting and cannot turn them down….or up if the need arises. 2. Insist that any hearing aids you buy include built in telecoils, not just Bluetooth. Those telecoils can connect you to many things that BT cannot. BUT, if the provider/fitter doesn't show you how to use them, they are often left out. They do not add cost to a hearing aid. They add considerable value. BT is great too, but is there for streaming, not 'connecting' BT adds considerable cost to hearing aids.

The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates 'communication access' in public venues. Telecoils are what connects you to that access. BT will stream from your TV or from your cell phone, but it will not connect you to the public address system at performing arts centers or other venues where you have to know what's coming through a PA system to be able to participate.

Educate yourself before you buy hearing aids. HLAA has lots of educational materials on their website. http://www.hearingloss.org It pays to take time to learn.

When we don't know what our hearing aids are capable of, our strategy often includes avoidance of situations where we don't hear like we used to.

Do you ever avoid going to social events, plays, movies, etc. because you don't hear well?

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@cobraguy223

In My Humble Opinion there is ZERO hearing aids that will correct SEVERE hearing loss, all those on line sites will tell you that!What's the name I'll pass it on if real!

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I have severe loss in both ears. The Banglajian company has one bte model that provided me with more than sufficient volume capacity and also several other sound quality features. They come with a selection of sizes in ear buds and can be connected with thin or thick tubing. I use my own ear molds as I have larger than normal openings and ear buds won't work well for me. The model is Zif 106and sells for about $125. The company has truly excellent customer service and return policies. They also have a model in the $80 range that also works well. I use this hearing aid as an excellent back up when my main aids are being serviced or repaired.

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@julieo4

Yes, I agree that having a well educated hearing healthcare professional, usually a clinical audiologist with AuD after their name, is the right place to go for testing, and for fitting. Audiologists are recognized as 'the gold standard' by The Hearing Loss Assn. of America (HLAA). However, HLAA also recognizes that many people cannot afford the expense of hearing aids.

At the very least, get testing done by an AuD. Request a copy of your audiogram/testing so you have it if you choose to go elsewhere for fitting.

I am cautious about buying hearing aids from big box providers or via mail per TV advertisements. But, I know several hard of hearing people who have been happy with that type of purchase. One size does not fit all. Much depends on the severity and type of the hearing loss.

Regardless of where you purchase hearing instruments, it is important to understand the trial period that is given to you by the 'fitter', whether it's an AuD audiologist or someone else. That time allotment is extremely important, and it is written in 'ink' in most cases. If you decide to return hearing aids a day later than that trial period allows you are likely out of luck whether the product cost hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars. Use the trial period in every possible situation so you know if those hearing aids are working well for you. If, after a few weeks of use they are not, take them back for adjustments AND ASK FOR AN EXTENDED TRIAL PERIOD.

Most providers will give you 30 days. A few will allow 60. However, Costco allows 180 days or 6 months. This is a huge difference. It is one that I hope the AuD professionals in the field will consider. Far too many people who buy hearing aids get frustrated with them at first and take them off. Everything sounds different. Everything sounds louder. It takes time for the brain to adjust to this new method of hearing. That 30 day standard might not be long enough. Further advice: WEAR THEM. Don't put them in the dresser drawer. You will get used to them in time.

Many of us have frustrations with technology. Think about your cell phone. Upgrade and you have a whole bunch of new things to learn. It's hard, especially for we seniors who were not brought up with all this tech stuff! Hearing aids are like that too. They have 'bells and whistles' in them that can be confusing. It takes time for the provider to teach us how to use them. Time is $, so it is not always doled out the way we need it to be. You have to be proactive in insisting that you are taught how best to use those new hearing instruments.

A couple things I always recommend: 1. Insist on manual volume controls. While it sounds kind of cool to have automatic volume controls, it's not so cool when you're in a noisy setting and cannot turn them down….or up if the need arises. 2. Insist that any hearing aids you buy include built in telecoils, not just Bluetooth. Those telecoils can connect you to many things that BT cannot. BUT, if the provider/fitter doesn't show you how to use them, they are often left out. They do not add cost to a hearing aid. They add considerable value. BT is great too, but is there for streaming, not 'connecting' BT adds considerable cost to hearing aids.

The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates 'communication access' in public venues. Telecoils are what connects you to that access. BT will stream from your TV or from your cell phone, but it will not connect you to the public address system at performing arts centers or other venues where you have to know what's coming through a PA system to be able to participate.

Educate yourself before you buy hearing aids. HLAA has lots of educational materials on their website. http://www.hearingloss.org It pays to take time to learn.

When we don't know what our hearing aids are capable of, our strategy often includes avoidance of situations where we don't hear like we used to.

Do you ever avoid going to social events, plays, movies, etc. because you don't hear well?

Jump to this post

Excellent submission that should be read by every potential user and required to sign as having read when buying aids. Thank you for publishing this.

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@julieo4

Yes, I agree that having a well educated hearing healthcare professional, usually a clinical audiologist with AuD after their name, is the right place to go for testing, and for fitting. Audiologists are recognized as 'the gold standard' by The Hearing Loss Assn. of America (HLAA). However, HLAA also recognizes that many people cannot afford the expense of hearing aids.

At the very least, get testing done by an AuD. Request a copy of your audiogram/testing so you have it if you choose to go elsewhere for fitting.

I am cautious about buying hearing aids from big box providers or via mail per TV advertisements. But, I know several hard of hearing people who have been happy with that type of purchase. One size does not fit all. Much depends on the severity and type of the hearing loss.

Regardless of where you purchase hearing instruments, it is important to understand the trial period that is given to you by the 'fitter', whether it's an AuD audiologist or someone else. That time allotment is extremely important, and it is written in 'ink' in most cases. If you decide to return hearing aids a day later than that trial period allows you are likely out of luck whether the product cost hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars. Use the trial period in every possible situation so you know if those hearing aids are working well for you. If, after a few weeks of use they are not, take them back for adjustments AND ASK FOR AN EXTENDED TRIAL PERIOD.

Most providers will give you 30 days. A few will allow 60. However, Costco allows 180 days or 6 months. This is a huge difference. It is one that I hope the AuD professionals in the field will consider. Far too many people who buy hearing aids get frustrated with them at first and take them off. Everything sounds different. Everything sounds louder. It takes time for the brain to adjust to this new method of hearing. That 30 day standard might not be long enough. Further advice: WEAR THEM. Don't put them in the dresser drawer. You will get used to them in time.

Many of us have frustrations with technology. Think about your cell phone. Upgrade and you have a whole bunch of new things to learn. It's hard, especially for we seniors who were not brought up with all this tech stuff! Hearing aids are like that too. They have 'bells and whistles' in them that can be confusing. It takes time for the provider to teach us how to use them. Time is $, so it is not always doled out the way we need it to be. You have to be proactive in insisting that you are taught how best to use those new hearing instruments.

A couple things I always recommend: 1. Insist on manual volume controls. While it sounds kind of cool to have automatic volume controls, it's not so cool when you're in a noisy setting and cannot turn them down….or up if the need arises. 2. Insist that any hearing aids you buy include built in telecoils, not just Bluetooth. Those telecoils can connect you to many things that BT cannot. BUT, if the provider/fitter doesn't show you how to use them, they are often left out. They do not add cost to a hearing aid. They add considerable value. BT is great too, but is there for streaming, not 'connecting' BT adds considerable cost to hearing aids.

The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates 'communication access' in public venues. Telecoils are what connects you to that access. BT will stream from your TV or from your cell phone, but it will not connect you to the public address system at performing arts centers or other venues where you have to know what's coming through a PA system to be able to participate.

Educate yourself before you buy hearing aids. HLAA has lots of educational materials on their website. http://www.hearingloss.org It pays to take time to learn.

When we don't know what our hearing aids are capable of, our strategy often includes avoidance of situations where we don't hear like we used to.

Do you ever avoid going to social events, plays, movies, etc. because you don't hear well?

Jump to this post

Julie – This post is GOLD! It should be mandatory reading before shopping for a hearing aid. After my tinnitus has kicked up in volume again, I'm going to make audiology appointments for both of us.
Thank you.
Sue

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@cobraguy223

In My Humble Opinion there is ZERO hearing aids that will correct SEVERE hearing loss, all those on line sites will tell you that!What's the name I'll pass it on if real!

Jump to this post

Good hearing aids can take people with Severe loss pretty far if the person is good at speech reading. Hearing loss is one of those things that fall on a spectrum. Very severe hearing loss to profound loss may indicate it is time for a Cochlear Implant. I used Resound 3D Linx HAs as long as I could! My cochlear is a miracle, it’s given me back a full life!

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@miker8888

I have severe loss in both ears. The Banglajian company has one bte model that provided me with more than sufficient volume capacity and also several other sound quality features. They come with a selection of sizes in ear buds and can be connected with thin or thick tubing. I use my own ear molds as I have larger than normal openings and ear buds won't work well for me. The model is Zif 106and sells for about $125. The company has truly excellent customer service and return policies. They also have a model in the $80 range that also works well. I use this hearing aid as an excellent back up when my main aids are being serviced or repaired.

Jump to this post

If folks do choose the OTC HA route, please see an AuD for your hearing test. Failing that, you can use the app Sonic Cloud. It was created by AuDs and other professionals. The app can test your hearing and has been clinically validated. It does come with a price, but far less than the cash outlay for an AuD.
My insurance has always paid for my evaluations, I know I am lucky.
Congress is exploring having Medicare cover hearing aids, evaluations etc. Please contact your US Congressional Representative to let them know you are in favor of Medicare’s expansion of coverage.

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