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Difficulties with hearing loss

News 6 gets results for woman who says she was out thousands

THE VILLAGES, Fla. – Twenty percent of the population suffers from hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, but getting hearing aids and finding a good hearing professional can be difficult, according to Gene Murray, a resident of The Villages.

"I'd say it's been beyond difficult.  It's been very painful and frustrating," he said.

Murray knew his hearing was suffering, but says it took years to find the right professional and the right devices to help.

"I went through three different hearing aid specialists over maybe a three-and-a-half-year period," he said.

Carolyn McLaughlin has a similar story and is now on her third set of hearing aids.

"One of them caused a sore in my ear that I had to treat for quite a while," she said.

She says she paid $6,000 for a pair of hearing aids that did her more harm than good.

She believes it wasn't the product, but the person fitting her for them.

"Do you think they were qualified?" News 6 Investigator Louis Bolden asked.

"Oh, absolutely not.  Absolutely not,"  McLaughlin said.

Dr. Stacy Dickson is the audiology manager for Orlando Health.

"As an audiologist that pains me to hear," she said, after hearing about the problems McLaughlin and Murray have had.

There are many places to buy hearing aids. There are brick -and-mortar stores, and Costco and Amazon sell the devices, but they also have to be carefully adjusted to suit your particular hearing problem, and that comes down to the skill of the person fitting you for them.

"Definitely make sure they have gone through training, and the amount of school that is appropriate for your needs," Dickson said.

Make sure the person has a license.  

         

In Florida, a license has to be displayed by law and you can verify a license at the Florida Department of Health's website.

Dickson says the best approach is to ask your physician for a referral - not your friend.

"Your doctor will point you in the right direction," she said.

Dickson also recommends a hearing evaluation rather than a hearing screening.

The evaluation is more thorough and can pinpoint which part of the ear is having the problem, Dickson said.
When buying the aids, make sure you get a clear understanding of whether the adjustment visits are included in the price.

And make sure you know the trial period and the refund policy.           

It could save time, money and frustration.

"Its been a long journey and it's frustrating," McLaughlin said.

But she did get some good news.

News 6 contacted the manufacturer and the retailer on her behalf, and got a refund of  $6,000 she paid for the hearing aids that never worked for her.

"Whoopee !!!!!! Success. Thank you!!," she wrote in an email.


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