1. Enlist a friend
When shopping for a hearing aid, bring a spouse, family member or friend, if at all possible, says Juliette Sterkens, a recently retired audiologist in Oshkosh, Wis. "Two people hear and remember more."
2. Find a good provider
The value you get out of your hearing aid will hinge on the skills and abilities of your provider so be sure to locate one you trust. Audiologists and hearing instrument specialists are both licensed to sell hearing aids, but audiologists hold a master's or doctoral degree in audiology. Get referrals from health care professionals, or contact the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association or the American Academy of Audiology for information on finding a hearing professional.
3. Pinpoint your priorities
Top providers will question patients about their lifestyle and hearing needs: Are you active or more of a homebody? "What do you want the hearing aid to do for you? Do you just want to be able to hear the television? Or do you hope to hear the sermon in church?" Knowing your priorities will help the professional determine what style and technology are best for you.
4. Get tested
During your visit, you should be given a hearing test in a soundproof booth. It will tell the audiologist or hearing specialist what type of hearing loss you have, which will help her choose the appropriate hearing aid as well as program it specifically for you.
5. Ask for a demonstration
Ask to "test drive" the hearing aids recommended for you. An audiologist may be able to put a disposable plug on the tip of a behind-the-ear hearing aid and program the device to your hearing loss so you can experience how it works. A simulated sound field also can show how a hearing aid works in different kinds of settings. And take your time. "This is way too important and costly a decision to make in a hurry," says Sterkens.
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