The Importance of Hearing Aids for the Elderly in Improving Their Quality of Life
Hearing loss is a prevalent problem among the elderly. It is difficult to detect. This is because it occurs gradually. But hearing loss has far-reaching implications on everyday life. It can reduce your ability to engage with others. It causes significant social, emotional, and practical issues for you, or your elderly family members and friends.
In the US, age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, happens in one in three adults ages 65 and over. It progresses gradually. This means the initial effects may not always be detected. That is why professional audiological services are so important. Professional care can help seniors get the best possible hearing aid for their needs. Thus, allowing them to stay connected and take part in meaningful conversations once more. With timely diagnosis and treatment, seniors with hearing loss can enjoy an enriched quality of life.
Get Professional Advice on Choosing Your Hearing Aid Type
If you are starting to have difficulty hearing, consult professional audiological services as soon as you can. An audiologist, who is a specialist in hearing loss, will test your hearing. This test, called an audiogram, uses sounds played through headphones, one ear at a time. The test will help assess the extent of your hearing loss. Depending on the severity, you may need hearing aids, especially if you are elderly. Your audiologist will discuss your hearing aid options based on your test results. That way, you’ll find the best choice for your specific hearing needs.
The Three Types of Hearing Aids for Seniors With Hearing Loss
Hearing aids come in three main types: Behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE), and in-the-canal (ITC).
The most popular type of hearing aid is the BTE. This hearing aid is designed especially with elderly people and seniors in mind. It is comfortable to wear, has a discreet case fitted behind your ear, and comes with an earmold that directs sound into your ear. There is also an open-fit BTE option which consists of a narrow tube instead of an earmold. It weighs less, is more discreet, and is comfortable to wear. A BTE hearing aid is also friendlier to most budgets. However, the BTE can be tiring to wear as it is the biggest among the three types. Additionally, if you are wearing glasses, it may not be comfortable. You would need to have a custom fit for it.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are perfect for seniors who prefer their discreet size and shape. Unlike BTE (behind-the-ear) hearing aids, ITEs are custom-molded to fit the natural shape of your inner ear. This makes ITEs smaller and much more comfortable than BTEs. Professional audiological services prefer ITE hearing aids due to their telecoil component. It helps amplify conversational speech better. It offers seniors a better and amplified sound minus the bigger size. However, ITEs may be more expensive compared to BTEs. This is especially a concern for elderly people with more severe hearing loss. They may be required two to hear better. But despite the greater cost, most seniors agree that investing in an ITE is worth every penny when it comes to enjoying a good quality of life and remaining socially connected.
Elderly and seniors suffering from hearing loss can benefit greatly from using in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids. Of the three, ITCs are considered the most technologically advanced. Unlike other hearing aids, they have all their electronic components fitted into a small custom-molded casing. This makes ITCs very discreet in size and shape. There are, however, there are a few drawbacks. First, ITCs are sensitive. They can direct sound and amplify it very well, but they can be easily damaged. Ear wax and fluid discharge will damage them easily. Dropping them will ruin them completely. Second, their size can be a drawback too, because seniors may have a hard time putting them on and taking them off. Additionally, replacing ITCs can be pricey because they are nearly twice as expensive as BTEs.
A Few Things To Consider Before You Go Out and Buy Your Hearing Aid
Everyone’s hearing needs are unique. That’s why seniors need to consult their audiologists before buying their hearing aids. Get a communication needs assessment and an audiogram test from your audiologist first. These are the most accurate ways for you to choose your hearing aid.
If the results show that you are no longer able to manipulate small-sized controls, you might want to consider BTE aids. Another option is getting remote controls. There are hearing aids that automatically adjust volumes in different settings so you don’t have to keep fiddling at the controls. If you prefer otherwise, you can get a brand that offers manual overrides. Or, you can buy a remote control accessory. Other seniors may have trouble inserting the tips into their ears. For that, they can get hearing aids that are bigger and more easily handled. These are some considerations that you need to figure out, and a visit to your audiologist is a good first step to take.
There are a few things to keep in mind when picking out hearing aids, especially if you’re elderly or a senior. So here are three suggestions that we think would help greatly with usability and function:
- Customization is key.
With over-the-counter options now available, it is easy to find a hearing aid that fits your needs. However, they might not be the best fit for you. Get your audiologist’s professional opinion first and find what works for you.
- In terms of technology, go for digital.
Analog is still used for a lot of hearing aids these days. But the latest digital design and tech advancements like open-fit hearing aids are easier and more comfortable to use. Another benefit is cell phone pairing. Up front, this gives you two benefits. First, better call quality via wireless tech. Second, apps that allow you to amplify sound or use speech-to-text apps–both of which can be difficult for those with hearing loss.
- Finally, if possible, always go for hearing aids with rechargeable batteries.
This is especially important for seniors who may have a real challenge with replacing the tiny batteries that earlier hearing aid models have. Dexterity and coordination are no longer your allies. Having the option of plugging your hearing aid to charge it makes all the difference.
The Three Top Hearing Aids for Seniors That Your Audiologists May Recommend
Based on these considerations, the best hearing aid for your needs is the one that’s designed for your specific hearing needs and budget. In this case, get in touch with a professional audiological services provider. An audiologist will be your best guide. She/He can suggest a brand that is best suited for your hearing needs.
Most professional audiological services providers are familiar with the top hearing aid brands. Especially for hearing aids for seniors and the elderly. Not all brands carry hearing aids that are readily available for seniors. But there are some that do, like these three:
Phonak Audeo Paradise
The Phonak Audeo Paradise model is a digital ITC hearing aid. It is compatible with cell phones and mobile apps and a rechargeable battery. The Audeo Paradise offers a highly personalized hearing experience. Seniors can enhance the sound to capture speech and conversation. They can reduce noise levels and background sounds. Unlike some hearing aids, you won’t be able to get this model online or over the counter. Phonak is only available through professional audiological service providers. This means you need to visit your audiologist for an assessment to get your Phonak Audeo Paradise hearing aid.
ReSound is a well-known and loved brand that is always on the edge of digital technology. And the ReSound One is no different. It is an ITE hearing aid augmented with a microphone, making it one of the best in the market today. Its sound quality is excellent because of its technology and design. It is compatible with mobile apps and devices, and Bluetooth streaming. You also have the option of getting a rechargeable model that lasts up to 30 hours. The ReSound One is available online and prices may vary from one provider to the next.
Oticon Opn S
The Oticon Opn S is considered one of the best in the market today. It comes in both BTE and ITE types. It is best known for its clarity and is fitted with sound optimization. It is compatible with mobile apps and cell phones. It is one of the best offerings in the market because it has been designed especially to be easy to use by seniors. The Oticon Opn S isn’t listed for sale online or over the counter. You will need to visit your audiologist for an assessment and get a prescription for it.
To know more about any of these three brands and models, visit your audiologist. She/He can provide you with more detailed information about these hearing aids, their benefits and disadvantages, and other considerations, especially for your specific hearing needs.
How Your Audiologist Can Be a Great Help in Choosing the Right Hearing Aid for You
For seniors and the elderly, it isn’t just the loss of hearing. It’s the loss of connection and communication. A loss that they should be enjoying. Hearing aids help in a tremendous way to uplift their quality of life. And the best way to choose the right one is with your audiologist. Your audiologist can help you know how severe your hearing loss is. She/He will also be able to find out if there is an underlying condition that needs to be treated first.
Once, the severity of your hearing loss has been identified, you and your audiologist may start looking for the right hearing aid for you. Base your choice on:
Your Personal Preferences
Choose for ease of use and practicality. Ask your audiologist about which hearing is easy to use for your situation and the benefits it offers to your everyday living. Ask about digital and wireless connectivity if that’s what you want. Ask about which brands are best for conversation, listening to music, or watching movies.
Ask your audiologist for recommendations based on your budget. Don’t shy away and be upfront about getting the right hearing aids within your means. To give you an idea: the most affordable of the three brands we discussed is the Phonak model. It starts at $999 per hearing aid device. The ReSound and Oticon models are pricier, at $1,700.
Your Quality of Life
Audiologists are concerned not only about your hearing loss and how to treat it. They are also concerned with helping improve your quality of life. Mention your day-to-day life. Tell her/him about the activities you take part in. Share the fulfillment you get from interacting with your friends and family. Hearing aids can help you maintain these connections. It offers a sense of stability, knowing that you are not cut off from everyone. This, we believe, is an essential key when choosing the right hearing aid for you.
Improving Your Quality of Life With the Right Hearing Aid
The right hearing aid will not only help you hear it will also help improve your quality of life. And to help you get the right one, it’s essential to get professional advice from your audiologist.
Because there are a lot of hearing aid brands in the market, it may not be a great idea to choose simply for convenience—that it’s easy to get online or over the counter. Your audiologist will know what you need based on your hearing tests. She/He can guide you based on your personal preferences and budget and pick the best hearing aid to meet your needs and help improve your quality of life. Visit your audiologist today to start choosing the right hearing aid for your needs.