The average American struggles seven to ten years with a hearing loss before getting the help he or she needs. People often do not know who to turn to for help. They are hesitant to do anything about their hearing because they do not know who to trust.
The first step in seeking better hearing is to admit you may have a hearing problem. The second step is to have a thorough hearing test.
In the state of California, Licensed Hearing Aid Dispensers test hearing for the purpose of fitting hearing aids. This testing is not considered a medical evaluation. Should your case history or initial hearing test indicate a medical problem, you would immediately be referred to a doctor for medical attention. The hearing test is usually done as a complimentary service with no charge to the client. Hearing aids are typically fit through a “retail model” of dispensing.
Audiologists, on the other hand, are extensively trained for diagnostic testing. Many but not all audiologists hold two licenses – one for diagnostic testing and the other for the fitting of hearing aids. The price of this testing ranges from $75-$150, and are usually fit through a “medical model” of dispensing.
Whether you choose to work with a licensed hearing aid dispenser or a licensed audiologist, (I’ll refer to them both as Hearing Health Providers for the remainder of the column), the success of your fitting requires four important ingredients. The ingredients for a successful fitting are:
1) A motivated and informed client
2) The right hearing aid technology
3) A completely competent and caring practitioner
4) A supportive family
If one of these ingredients is missing or even weak, it compromises your fitting. So let’s review each so that you can be informed!
A motivated and informed client – No matter what type of hearing loss you have, you must want to hear better and therefore, be willing to go through some changes. Learning to hear through amplification takes an adjustment period. For most, this period lasts four to six weeks but can take up to several months for some people. Your attitude and willingness make a tremendous difference in how well you’ll adjust to hearing instruments. Also, learn all you can about hearing loss…your specific hearing loss. Attend local seminars or classes and read up on hearing loss in general. Be sure to get at least two opinions before you invest in hearing instruments.
The right hearing aid technology – Selecting the right hearing aid circuit for your hearing loss is crucial. In the past, too many people were fit with hearing aids that were pure amplifiers, making everything louder but not necessarily clearer. Selecting the proper technology takes into account your unique hearing loss, your lifestyle requirements and even your budget.
Competent and caring provider – The person who fits your hearing 耳鳴治療 instruments must be competent in two areas: people skills and technical knowledge. It is important that the provider understands your problems and takes the time to learn about you and your needs. Be sure you feel comfortable with this person since you will be working closely with them. Secondly, the provider must demonstrate a high degree of technical expertise during the testing and follow-up care. When you come in with a legitimate complaint about your new fitting, you want to feel confident that the provider will know what to do to help you. A successful fitting actually begins after the delivery of the hearing instruments.
Talking about providers, many people believe that they have to stay within their HMO when being fitted with hearing aids. Close to eighty percent of people do not have a hearing aid benefit. Your HMO may pay for your hearing test but the actual cost of the hearing devices is usually not covered. Therefore, you, as a consumer, have much more freedom to choose who you want to work with. Again, get a least two opinions.
Supportive Family-Hearing loss affects everyone in the family. That’s why it’s important that a family member or spouse be present during the hearing test, the decision to invest in hearing instruments and even some of the follow-up care. The most motivated client fit with the best technology by an extremely competent and caring hearing aid provider can fail miserably IF they do not have a supportive and informed family.
Next month, in part two of “Choosing a Hearing aid provider” you will receive helpful tips on how to determine if you are choosing the right person to help you with your hearing.