Finding the right audiologist as important as getting the right hearing aid
I get quite a few emails from people asking which hearing aid is best but no-one has ever asked which audiologist is best. I think the second question is just as important as the first, maybe even more so.
When you buy a hearing aid you are paying for the audiologists time as well as for the hearing aid itself. The time costs more than the piece of plastic you will put in your ear and what’s really important for you is that once you’ve been fitted with your new hearing aid you are very likely to be needing a fair bit of that time to make adjustments to the new sounds you are hearing.
You could buy the most expensive hearing aid in the world and get little benefit from it if you don’t have an audiologist who’s prepared to take the time to alter it to your own personal needs. All modern digital aids have a vast array of settings and can be programmed to sound completely differently for each person. Of course, your audiologist needs to programme it to compensate for your hearing loss, but even after that your aid can be made to sound as differently as you want it to be.
Don’t be afraid to use as much of that time that you’ve paid for. You might get lucky and walk out after your first fitting and live happily ever after with your new aids – I’ve never done that, not once. Getting used to wearing a new aid can be tough and takes time, especially with your first pair – and when I say it takes time, I’m talking weeks or months, not hours or days.
A few guidelines for picking the right audiologist
- Make sure they ask you about yourself before they recommend a hearing aid. They should be asking about the kind of environments you are normally in, what you want to hear better, what kind of things you are having trouble hearing at the moment, how you feel about wearing aids, what you are prepared to wear. That kind of stuff.
- Make sure they explain your hearing test results to you so that you know how bad you hearing loss is. I always like to get a copy of my test results.
- Ask lots of questions and be happy with the answers.
- You might have a particular aid recommended to you – find out why that one is being recommended and which others are also suitable for you. Seems unlikely that there would only be one suitable for you so find out about them all.
- Make sure you like them! You are going to be making more visits so you have to get on.
- Find out what the after-sales service is, how often they are available and at what times, and how often are they expecting to see you after your fitting?
- Make sure they are listening to what you are asking for. They have the knowledge and the expertise to give you the best chance to hear but they don’t know what you are hearing – tell them what’s working for you and what isn’t and make sure they take that into account.
Really, you’ve just got to feel comfortable that you are getting the information and guidance that you need to start getting the most from your new hearing aid.