All over Minneapolis and perhaps all over the world people are asking this question when investigating to purchase a hearing aid. When I talk to my patients at Chears Audiology in St. Louis Park, as they come in for a hearing test and a hearing aid consultation and they ask me that question...”which hearing aid is best for me”, I tell them this is not an easy answer. Here are some reasons why it is complicated.
Choosing a Hearing Aid
People want to buy the best hearing aid for them. Sometimes they say money is not an issue and I want to spend what it takes to get the best for me. Other times people say money is an issue. Does spending more money make it the best hearing aid? No, spending more money does not necessarily give you a better a hearing aid or the right hearing aid for YOU. In fact sometimes spending more money on a hearing aid may upset you or will not provide you with what you feel is a reasonable cost/benefit. Everyone has their own cost/ benefit belief. Personally I have a low cost/benefit with purchasing a car, so I would not be a good person to buy a luxury car for example. Your cost benefit for hearing health care may be very high and want to spend more money on hearing care than your own sister or friend might want to spend or can spend, for instance.
So you say, if money is not what guarantees the best hearing aid then what else could there be? Well, I say to my friendly patient at Chears , what kind of conversations do you want to hear? Are you trying to hear all the time on a basketball court because you are a basketball star or coach or are you trying to hear in noisy restaurants? Do you just want to hear conversations on TV or do you want to hear in a lecture hall? These are important questions to answer to find that circuit that is best for you. There are levels of technology for all the hearing aid brands, from Starkey, Widex, Siemens, Resound, Oticon, Phonak and others.
Choosing the Hearing Aid Circuit
Don’t stop reading yet, there is more to picking out a hearing aid than picking out the circuit. There is also the quality of the hearing aid itself. At Chears Audiology in St. Louis Park, MN, we let people listen to different hearing aids to find a quality of sound that sounds natural to them. Because I have a hearing loss I have narrowed down some of the choices by choosing my favorite sounding hearing aids. I not only look at specifications of the hearing aid but I also listen to them every time there is a new released hearing aid out. When people listen to the hearing aid not everyone likes the same sound quality. Some people love the quality of Widex, others chose Siemens and then others chose Resound. Not many people like the quality of sound of Starkey. There is no way to predict what hearing sounds natural to different people. You have to listen and find one that sounds good to you.
Another point to finding the best hearing aid for you is the features of the hearing aid. These features include streaming, Bluetooth, apps, classroom settings, theater going and more. For example if you are on the phone all the time and want a hands free option then there are hands free hearing aids available for you! If you have no desire to have these types of features then this type of hearing aid is not the best option for you.
Make sure your hearing aid has t-coil if you have a difficult time hearing at large venue type settings like theaters or churches. Hearing loops are becoming more popular in Minnesota. Ask your provider if a t-coil is in the product you are picking out. Sometimes you need a very small hearing aid because you have a small space behind your ear. But with small hearing aids, you are giving up the t-coil and perhaps other features that you may need.
Hearing Aids Conclusion
By now I can tell you see where I am going with this answer. It is an individual answer for each person. If anyone answers this question by telling you one brand, make and model is best for you.. well then run the other way! Choosing a hearing aid is a process that can-not be rushed, should not be fit from a stock warehouse, but instead from someone who takes the time to get to know you and your needs. The best you can do for yourself is to go to a provider who can offer you the options with the opportunity to listen to some hearing aids and find one that meets your needs for the time being. State law is 45 days to try something. Make sure the hearing aid lives up to your expectations and to set your expectations to be real. Remember hearing aids do not give you normal hearing but help you hear better.
Thanks for reading and happy hearing to all.
Written and answered in June, 2015 by Kim Fishman