My mother in law has asked me to contact you, as she does not have email access. She has an appointment next month for a free hearing test with a well-known hearing aid shop in the nearest big town (we live in the country), but I have told her they may then try to sell her a hearing aid.
What do you think she should do – have you heard of them, or do you have any advice for her?
Hearing aids, and how they are sold or dispensed, can be complicated. In the UK hearing aids are dispensed in two ways: private or the NHS.
People always recommend that you should try the NHS first. The quality of service and provision is usually good, but it does depend on where you live (even though it shouldn’t). The advantage of the NHS is that you stay in the system and can be referred to other places such as Ear Nose & Throat departments (often in the same building) if you have other ear-related problems. Also, if you have a good GP s/he will monitor your progress.
Free hearing tests are offered by both the NHS – although you need a doctor’s referral letter – and private dispensers, or shops, as you mention. One advantage of private dispensers is their range of hearing aids, which is far greater than that provided by the NHS, and they will even visit you at home if you cannot get out and about. However, on average private hearing aids cost a few thousand pounds each.
I suggest that a friend or relative accompany you to the private dispenser – rather than go on your own, as they may press you to buy a hearing aid before you’ve had time to think.
You can state very clearly at the beginning, “I am here for a free hearing test and some advice then I need to go away and think about the options you offer”.
In your longer email you say your
hearing aids don’t seem to work for you. Perhaps they have not yet been tuned properly? In which case, you go back for another discussion and hearing aid re-tuning.
Please remember hearing aids are not magic – at the end of the day, you are still hard of hearing. This can be a shock for some people who experience hearing loss later in life.
Ultimately, weigh up all the pros and cons bearing in mind where you live, how supportive your GP is, how much money you have, how quickly you want to be seen and so on. Good luck!