Learn how to shop for a hearing aid

Published 9:25am Friday, April 12, 2013

Dear Savvy Senior,

What tips can you offer people who are shopping for hearing aids?

~ Overwhelmed Senior

Dear Overwhelmed,

With so many choices and options available today, shopping for a hearing aid that meets your needs, lifestyle and budget can be challenging. Here are some tips that can help you locate a good hearing aid provider and choose an appropriate aid.

Choose a provider

The first step in buying a hearing aid is to choose a good provider. The best option – as recommended by Consumer Reports – is an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat doctor) who employs an audiologist that fits and dispenses hearing aids.

An otolaryngologist will first examine your ears and rule out any medical conditions such as a tumor, bacterial infection or ear wax that can affect your hearing. Medicare will cover the medical exam and an audiologist’s test if ordered by a physician.

If you can’t find a conveniently located doctor’s office that dispenses aids, an independent audiologist or hearing instrument specialist is a good alternative. To search for these professionals in your area, see howsyourhearing.org and ihsinfo.org. Big box retailers like Wal-Mart and Costco also sell hearing aids.

Or, if you’re a veteran, be sure to check with your nearest VA health facility. Eligible veterans may be able to get hearing aids for free.

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