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Hearing Aids/Help for severe hearing loss

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Question
I don't have all of the money needed to buy the best, and having been diagnosed with an illness that may only give me a year left, I would like to be able to hear my wife and not have her feel like all she does is repeat herself and scream at me.  We're going in for tests tomorrow, any suggestions on what brand and whats a fair price range.  $2000.00, is about all we have. Thank you for your help.
John

Answer
Hello John,

I am very sorry to hear about your illness.  Your desire to improve communication with your wife and others is obviously very important and I am happy you are pursuing help in this matter.  The audiologist will complete your diagnostic evaluation and, based on your specific hearing loss, communication needs, physical ear characteristics, dexterity, and affordability will make recommendations on amplification technology, style, and options.  

It is almost ALWAYS the best recommendation to have a hearing aid in both ears--the "binaural advantage" is so much that 2 basic level hearing aids will be superior to 1 advanced level hearing aid in your ultimate hearing outcomes. The costs associated with hearing aid fitting, counseling, and prescription verification may be "bundled" or "unbundled."  Bundled is more common, where all the professional costs are included together with the device cost.  This is similar to how getting orthodontic braces is done.  

Since you are going to be paying for professional services and returning for follow-up care and adjustments, you should seek the most qualified and skilled provider possible--an audiology doctor will likely charge the same or often less in total cost compared to dealers #hearing instrument specialists# since your diagnostic testing can be billed to insurance, and you will also receive a higher standard of care.  An audiologist's preparation is equivalent to an eye doctor#optometrist#, while dealers require a high school diploma #or GED# and passage of a licensing examination on the basics of dispensing hearing aids.  While some dealers are very successful and capable of fitting hearing aids, there is a large difference between the two providers.  You should never feel pressured or like you are being given a "sales pitch" for hearing aids.

Hearing/communicative rehabilitation takes time.  Research and experience indicates it will take 3-6 weeks of consistent hearing aid use #wear most of your waking hours# for your brain to adjust.  Think of it like this--your ears detect the sound, but your brain is what makes sense of it all and assigns meaning to what you heard.  What is currently "normal" hearing for your brain right now #albeit at a deficit#, will get turned upside down when you first start hearing with amplification.  So many sounds are different or "new" that your immediate reaction may be of rejection, but you need to allow time for your brain to re-calibrate.  The counseling on this and initial settings and follow-up through this process are important, but not as important as your commitment and motivation to work through it!

Finally, 2000.00 should be in the ballpark of obtaining the hardware and services for 2 GOOD basic level devices.  There are some less expensive options out there, but you get what you pay for.  I have personally had good success fitting Oticon, Phonak, and Siemens hearing aids in this technology level, but there are others such as Widex, Starkey, and Resound which are good as well.  Each manufacturer has a "line-up" of products.  Each audiologist will likely have their own preferences based on several factors and past successes.  Find a good audiologist and trust their recommendations and you will no go wrong.

I wish you well and I hope this helped.

Clint

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Dr. Clint D. Keifer, Audiologist

Expertise

I am qualified to answer all questions related to the diagnosis and rehabilitative treatment of hearing and balance disorders. This includes evaluation of hearing and balance, counseling, amplification (hearing aids and assistive devices), tinnitus (noises in head) evaluation and management, cochlear implants, and audiology in general.

Experience

I started my career as a hearing instrument specialist (on a trainee license) in 1998. After almost 2 years, I decided that I needed to pursue higher education if I was to provide the best care to hearing impaired patients that I could. In 2007, I completed my Doctor of Audiology and have been providing audiological care for over 5 years. I have vestibular, cochlear implant, and pediatric experience along with prescribing, fitting, and verification of hearing aid amplification as part of comprehensive hearing loss rehabilitation.

Organizations
Audiology doctor and owner at Great Lakes Audiology in Toledo, OH. phone: 419 327-2273 website: www.GLAudiology.com American Academy of Audiology, American Speech-Language Hearing Association, Ohio Academy of Audiology

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Western Michigan University, Speech Pathology and Audiology Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.), Ohio State University Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A)

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