The hearing industry is full of confusing hearing terminology. Manufacturers have different names for the same features and providers lump hearing aids into technology levels making it nearly impossible for consumers to compare brands, models and prices apples to apples.
Our next few posts will discuss each component hearing providers use to recommend hearing aids and evaluate factors critical to making an informed decision.
Let’s begin with your lifestyle!
When providers discuss a patient’s lifestyle, they don’t mean how physically active you are. For hearing aids, activity is distinguished by the amount of time you find yourself in challenging listening environments. Meetings, work, church, restaurants, family gatherings and social events are just a few of the many situations that often present difficulties for individuals suffering from hearing loss.
Lifestyle is one of the most important factors when considering hearing devices. A decision based solely on cost, can result in a device that doesn’t match your lifestyle and is therefore not capable of satisfying expectations.
Explaining the subtle differences between hearing aid technology levels is incredibly challenging. There are approximately five technology levels per manufacturer within a given product line. If we consider only the big six manufacturers, we are left with, at a minimum, 30 options for providers to offer. To maintain a viable business, it’s impossible to let patients demo every device and track the pros and cons of each.
A decent comparison is buying a car. The most basic or entry level trim of a car, performs the most basic functions, but just because you’re not interested in fancy features doesn’t mean the car won’t drive well. As you spend more and more money, the driving experience is enhanced. Step up a notch and you have might have access to an automatic transmission. Spend a little more and you have the ability to carry on phone conversations without the use of your hands. Find yourself at the very top and now your car is stopping automatically, parallel parking, and alerting you if you begin to drift.
Low-end hearing aids allow you to hear just as good as premium or advanced hearing aids in the most basic listening settings. For individuals that are primarily in one-on-one scenarios, a low-cost hearing aid might offer everything you are looking for, but if you happen to venture into a restaurant, expectations must be tampered as the device you chose was not designed to function in that setting!
Hearing aids are just shells. The computer chip on the inside dictates its ability. If the function of the hearing aid doesn’t match your lifestyle, you’ll be disappointed. Easy to say but hard to convey considering more sophisticated devices are also more expensive. Just like buying a car, the only person that can determine the benefit of improved technology is you!
Do your homework before your appointment! An informed consumer makes informed decisions. Browse the marketplace to find hearing aids from local hearing providers sharing our commitment to transparency!
The difficult work is done. All you have to do is browse.
Be sure to check out our next post on hearing aid features!