What is the best hearing aid for seniors?

Unfortunately as we age it is not uncommon for our hearing to start deteriorating. We naturally start to lose our ability to hear soft sounds, especially those in the higher frequencies.

Although, a hearing aid will not bring our hearing back. They can go a long way in helping us live as normal a life as possible.

With so many models of hearing aids on the market currently it can be difficult to know which one would be the best fit for you. Are there ones that are more suitable for seniors? 

It is advised that before making any decisions you speak to your audiologist. They will be able to advise you on the different models. By taking the degree of hearing loss you have and your lifestyle needs into account, they can help you make the decision that is right for you. 

Choosing a hearing aid

Choosing a hearing aid is a personal decision. The perfect one for you may be the worst choice for someone else.

Even two people with the same degree of hearing loss who are the same age would more than likely get on better with two completely different models of hearing aids.

This is because choosing the right one will depend on several different factors. 

  • Your degree of hearing loss.
  • Your lifestyle. 
  • Any additional features you require. 
  • Your budget. 

How hearing aids work

All hearing aids work with three main components.

  1. A microphone
  1. An amplifier
  1. A speaker

The aim of the hearing aid is to amplify sounds so that you no longer have to struggle to hear spoken voices, the television or sounds that are going on around you.

The microphone will pick up sounds. These are converted to an electrical signal and are then sent to the amplifier, where they are boosted. The sound is then sent to your ear through the speaker.

Hearing aids can help with mild to profound hearing loss although different models will be able to cater to different degrees of hearing loss. 

Pros and Cons of the different types of hearing aids

  • Behind-The-Ear (BTE) – This is the largest of all hearing aids. For that reason they are the most powerful and can help people with mild to profound hearing loss. A hard plastic case sits behind the ear and is connected to an earmold that sits inside the outer ear. This is what people most commonly think of when they hear the word hearing aid. They are one of the easiest to put on and are becoming smaller and more stylish overtime. 
Pros of BTE Hearing AidCons of BTE Hearing Aid
Comfortable to wear.Reduced sound quality compared to other models.
Easy maintenance.Less discrete.
Cheaper than some other models. They do not help decrease the amount of environmental noise such as wind.
  • Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) – This is also referred to as a Receiver-In-The-Ear (RICE) and is very similar to a BTE although smaller. They are light and comfortable to wear and can cater for different degrees of hearing loss. The biggest difference between the BTE and the RIC is that the receiver is separated from the microphone and the amplifier is instead housed in a small bud that sits inside the ear canal. 
Advantages to a RIC Hearing AidDisadvantages to a RIC Hearing Aid
A more natural sound is received as the ear canal is open.The receiver is vulnerable to moisture from the ear.
Feedback is less of a problem for users. More costly than a BTE.
A RIC amplifies high pitched sounds well.Not as suitable for those with profound hearing loss. 

Under the umbrella of In-The Ear hearing aids we have  

  • In-The-Ear (ITE) – Also known as a full shell. This is designed as a single unit which fills the outer ear. 
  • In-The-Canal (ITC) – These fit just in the entrance of the ear canal and are sometimes called a half shell hearing aid
  • Completely-In-Canal (CIC) – This fits neatly into the ear canal. A nylon thread is used to remove it. 
  • Invisible-In-Canal  (IIC) – These sit deeper into the ear canal and are completely invisible to other people. 

All of these are a lot smaller than the BTE and RIC options as there is no part that goes behind the ear. All of the components are housed within the ear.

They are very discrete and can be a good option for those that are worried about their hearing aid being seen.

Due to their size they are typically not as powerful and have less additional functions. 

Advantages of In-The-Ear ModelsDisadvantages of In-The-Ear Models
Can be custom made to fit your ear.Those with limited dexterity may struggle to change their batteries and to physically insert them into their ear.
Small and discrete.Are more expensive.
Less likely to pick up environmental noise such as wind as they sit inside the ear. Regular maintenance is needed as they are inside of the ear. 

As you can see there are advantages and disadvantages to all of the different models. Those of an older age may find the ease of inserting a Behind-The-Ear model more appealing.

However, someone who is still leading a very active life may find the In-The-Ear models more appropriate for their lifestyle at that particular time.

It is advised that before making any decisions you speak to your audiologist. They will be able to advise you on the different models. By taking the degree of hearing loss you have and your lifestyle needs into account, they can help you make the decision that is right for you. 

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