Hearing loss can affect any person, young or old, at any stage.
That said, hearing loss is most commonly a result of aging and affects older adults in greater numbers.
Hearing loss can be a disabling condition for older adults, making navigating life difficult.
Conversations become harder to manage, and something as simple as talking on the phone can become a tiresome chore.
Hearing loss can be a thief of joy, making seniors feel isolated from the world around them. Thankfully, there are solutions.
Many high-quality hearing aid options today can help seniors manage their hearing loss better and improve their quality of life.
Here, we will explore some of the best options.
Age-Related Hearing Loss in Seniors
Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is one of the most common conditions affecting seniors and the biggest reason for hearing aid purchases.
According to the National on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, it affects roughly one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 in the United States.
Half of the senior adults over the age of 75 have some degree of hearing loss.
The type of degenerative hearing loss falls under sensorineural hearing loss.
Typically, sensorineural hearing loss happens slowly over time as the auditory system ages, and damage is caused to the inner ear hair cells and auditory nerve. However, tinnitus could act as a warning sign that something is wrong.
This type of hearing loss is usually permanent and requires hearing devices like hearing aids or interventions like cochlear implants to restore some level of hearing.
How To Choose the Right Hearing Aid
The National Institute of Health defines a hearing aid as a small electronic device worn in or behind the ear to enhance sounds for hearing loss.
While hearing aids have been around for decades, technological advancements have opened the door to a new generation of sleek, tech-forward options.
Choosing the best ear hearing aids starts with your specific needs. Depending on your degree of hearing loss, some styles of hearing aids may not be suitable.
For example, those with profound hearing loss will require a hearing aid capable of more amplification than those with moderate hearing loss.
After hearing problems have been diagnosed and the degree of hearing loss has been established, choosing the best style begins.
Many hearing aids suit a particular wearer’s lifestyle.
They are differentiated depending on where they are placed in (or around) the ear. A hearing aid fitting can help determine what feels most comfortable.
Hearing aids fit into four categories:
- Behind-the-ear (BTE)
- In-the-ear (ITE)
- Canal: Completely-in-canal (CIC) and In-the-canal (ITC)
- Receiver-in-canal (RIC)
Let’s take a brief look at all the different styles of hearing aids and the best options available on the market today.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
Behind-the-ear hearing aids hook over the top of the ear and rest just behind it.
A small tube, or sometimes a wire, joins the plastic hearing aid piece housing the electronics to a custom earmold. This earmold is what fits inside the ear canal. BTEs are available for most degrees of hearing loss.
Best BTE Hearing Aid Option
ReSound is an industry leader when it comes to BTE hearing aids. They’re also a pioneer in rechargeable hearing aids.
The ReSound ONE BTE hearing aid can hold a charge for 23 hours and boasts three directional microphones with 360-degree surround sound.
- 3-year warranty
- Offers remote care through the Assist Live app
- Pricey at $1000 to $3500 per device.
- They are a bit more noticeable than other styles.
In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
ITE hearing aids are available in two styles: full shell and half shell.
The full shell fills most of the outer ear, while the half shell is a bit more discreet, filling only the lower part of the outer ear.
ITE aids have more features than other styles, like noise reduction settings.
Many also use telecoils, which are small magnetic coils that allow users to receive sound through the circuitry rather than a microphone. These coils can reduce feedback and background noise.
Best ITE Hearing Aid Option
Priced at around $1,000 to $3,500 per device, the Oticon Opn is costly, but the features make it stand out.
A great choice for seniors with severe hearing loss, the Oticon Opn is available in both styles and features advanced Bluetooth wireless technology.
- The only manufacturer that connects to the IFTTT network to integrate with smart devices (Wi-Fi doorbells, home security systems, smoke detectors, and more).
- They are available in multiple skin tone options.
- They must be purchased at an Oticon hearing clinic.
- They’re prone to clogging from earwax buildup.
Canal hearing aids fit right into the ear canal, much like an earbud.
Canal-style hearing aids are available in two styles: in-the-canal (ITC) and completely-in-canal (CIC). They are custom fit for each wearer.
Best Canal Hearing Aid Option
The Eargo CIC hearing aids are one of the most discreet hearing aids around, with a nearly invisible profile.
They also feature rechargeable batteries, unique for such small hearing aids.
They’re a great choice for seniors who are new to hearing aids and want to stick to cosmetic appeal.
- The warranty covers one-time loss/damage coverage for each aid.
- The sound-adjust feature optimizes soundscapes automatically.
- They can only be bought in pairs, which is a drawback for those with unilateral hearing loss.
- They require a tech-savvy user since they require a smartphone.
Similar to BTE-style hearing aids, RIC hearing aids feature a receiver inside the ear canal.
Instead of a tube, RICs use a small wire to connect the speaker/receiver.
Best Receiver-in-Canal Hearing Aid Option
The Phonak Audeo Marvel is a top-notch RIC-style hearing aid that boasts neat features for seniors looking to capitalize on accessories.
These are the best-in-class for those with severe hearing loss.
- They have a speech enhancer to boost soft-level speech.
- They are telecoil-equipped and Bluetooth-enabled for ultimate device connectivity.
- They come at a much higher price point than other RIC, up to $3,500 per device.
- They can only be bought through local providers and not online.
Choosing the Best Hearing Aid for Your Needs
There is a lot to consider when purchasing new hearing aids for seniors, such as features, comfort, and more.
Cost is another factor for seniors or caregivers to consider.
Health insurance doesn’t typically cover the cost of hearing aids.
However, in some cases, programs like Medicaid and Medicare Advantage may cover some of the costs of hearing aids.
The first step in deciding the best hearing aid option is to consult a hearing healthcare professional or hearing care specialist, like an audiologist.
They can help get you or your loved one on the path to better hearing by performing a hearing test and offering helpful advice as you weigh all the options.
Looking for more info to help you navigate hearing loss? Explore the rest of our blog here.