One of my aunts, who lives in Ontario and is legally blind, recently called me regarding advice on hearing aids. As I guided her through the process, I realized this information would make excellent material for my blog.
The first thing I had to do was to make sure my aunt realized what she was shopping for. Because the process of hearing instrument fitting is really a process of aural rehabilitation (physiotherapy for the ear), she was shopping not just for a product but also for services. A very important factor was choosing an Audiologist that she felt comfortable with and trusted. Did the provider give her ample time to ask questions and discuss options? Were they knowledgeable, considerate and did they listen to her concerns?
What services were included with the hearing instrument purchase? How often could she come in if she had a problem? Would there be annual retests of her hearing and reprogramming of the hearing aid? Would these services continue even if she kept the hearing aid for many years?
Where was the clinic? Was it close by to her bus route? Was the reception staff knowledgeable and nice to deal with?
What was the cost of the hearing instrument? Were different options discussed? What accessories were included? What was the warranty on the hearing aid? Was there a loss and damage policy? What was the trial period and could it be extended?
My aunt ended up visiting three Audiologists. The first person worked for her local ENT and offered her only one option. The second person worked for a big box store, offered her a good selection and helped her to choose one that worked best for her. The third person was an owner-operator whose clinic was further away from where my aunt lives, offered the same recommendations as the second clinician but at a lower price.
There are a lot of factors to consider when shopping for and purchasing a hearing instrument. My aunt is happy with her decision and I am happy that she considered all the factors that will lead her to success.