In the UK, around 12 million people (approx. 18% of the population) suffer from hearing loss. The cause of most hearing loss is ageing and hearing aids for seniors almost becomes a necessity. As we age, we lose our ability to hear soft sounds, especially in the high frequencies (treble range).
The result is that you may feel people are mumbling. You may have to creep up the volume on your TV too loud. In noisy environments, you may feel yourself straining to follow a conversation. Often, people report that in a restaurant or café environment, the effort they put into listening is tiring. They find themselves disengaging.
Our brains process our hearing, and as our hearing deteriorates, not enough sound data reaches the brain to make sense of the incoming speech. The brain will try and fill in the gaps in the sound data. This takes a lot of effort and explains why you may find what should be a pleasurable conversation tiring.
By treating age-related hearing loss with hearing aids, you allow the right amount of sound to reach the brain. As a result, understanding speech becomes easier and social environments become less frustrating (or tiring) and pleasurable again.
What Are the Best Hearing Aids for Seniors with Age-Related Hearing Loss?
Hearing Aid technology improves with each new release of hearing aids by the manufacturers. There are different types of hearing aids ranging from ones that go behind the ear (BTE and RIC) and ones that go in the ear (IIC, CIC, ITC and ITE). In each category we have highlighted which we feel is the best aid released in the last year.
Best Receiver in Canal Hearing Aid
Receiver in the Canal (RIC) hearing aids are the most popular hearing aids. Though they tend to sit on the ear, the device is very small and the wire into the ear is very thin and therefore unnoticeable. They are also very light and comfortable to wear.
Unitron has just released (2020) the latest version of their popular Discover Range. It is called Unitron Discover Next. Available in 3 levels of technology – 5, 7 and 9. The technology level you choose will depend on your lifestyle and budget.
At soundhearing.org Unitron hearing aids are available on a free trial basis. During the trial, Sound Hearing will monitor your progress and if, for example, you decide to trial level 5 technology but find it is not sufficient, an audiologist would be able to upgrade the hearing aid to level 7 or 9 depending on your needs.
Best Behind the Ear Hearing Aid
A Behind the Ear (BTE) hearing aid sits behind the ear. The device has an ear hook from which a tube is attached. The tubing can be of different circumference and thickness (depending on the severity of loss) and attaches to an earpiece that fits in your ear. The earpiece could be a dome shape or a custom-fit mould.
BTE hearing aids are most commonly used for severe and profound hearing loss since they can house large amplifiers to maximise sound output.
In 2019, Oticon released their latest power BTE hearing aids called Oticon Xceed. These devices are capable of 146 dB SPL, which is the sound pressure level. It features BrainHearing technology and a new Opensound feedback system. The Oticon Xceed provides more access to speech than ever before for patients with severe to profound hearing loss.
BrainHearing is possible with Opensound navigator. This technology can reduce noise from any direction and processes multiple voices simultaneously, enabling the user to locate individual sounds/speech from 360° and to focus on what is important to them. Oticon’s research concludes that by giving the brain more information to perform, the listening environment is enhanced, therefore reducing listening effort and improving speech understanding.
Oticon Xceed can connect and stream from mobile phones and the Oticon app works as a remote control.
Oticon Xceed is available in a superpower (SP) size 13 battery and a UP version which takes a 675 battery.
Best Invisible in Canal Hearing Aid
Invisible-in-Canal hearing aids (IICs) are the smallest hearing aids on the market. More than any other model, they fit the furthest down the ear canal, making them virtually undetectable. These models can help the most with hearing voices and providing more natural sound.
Phonak’s new Marvel Titanium released in 2020 is our choice for the best IIC on the market. At present, Phonak have the only mainstream hearing aids made from medical-grade titanium. Titanium has the advantage of being up to 15 times stronger than traditional hearing aid materials. Titanium is also thinner than existing hearing aid materials which means the hearing aid can be made smaller and therefore it will fit deeper into the ear.
Phonak Marvel Titanium is powered by the Sword 3.0 chip (consists of 42 million transistors) and runs the new AutoSense 3.0 which constantly scans the listening environment and fine-tunes the audio with up to 200 adjustments for an optimised listening experience.
Phonak Marvel Titanium is available in 2 technology levels: M70 and M90, with the M90 offering the best performance in background noise environments.
Best Completely in Canal Hearing Aid
Completely-in-Canal hearing aids (CIC) are very similar to IICs, but they don’t fit as far down into your ear canal. You may still be able to see part of the hearing aid, though it won’t be as obvious as a RIC or BTE.
Widex, a family-owned Danish manufacturer has just released (2020) their new Widex Moment range, which contains two important technology advances, PureSound and TruAcoustics technology.
Widex’s PureSound technology reduces the time it takes for a hearing aid to process sound. Many hearing-aid wearers report a tinny or distorted sound when listening through their aids. This is typically due to the time difference between a direct sound signal hitting the eardrum and the processed sound from the hearing aid. Widex PureSound has zero processing delay and their research includes users finding Widex Moment sound more natural and distortion-free.
Widex TruAcoustics is a new technology that ensures the hearing aid produces the correct amount of gain at the eardrum. For the hearing aid user, TruAcoustics technology ensures a more accurate fitting prescription and therefore a more natural sound and improved speech recognition.
You can control a Widex Moment CIC from a mobile phone using the Widex Tonelink app.
Widex Moment comes with a 5-year manufacturers guarantee.
Best In the Canal Hearing Aid
In-the-Canal hearing aids (ITC) only fit partially in the ear canal. This differs from CIC hearing aids, which sit fully inside the ear canal, and IIC hearing aids that fit so far down that they aren’t visible.
An ITC hearing aid may be the best option for you if you want nothing behind the ear and an easy to handle hearing aid with all the functionality of a RIC or BTE.
In 2020, American manufacturer Starkey released the world’s first custom rechargeable hearing aid – Starkey Livio Edge AI.
The Starkey Livio Edge AI hearing aid has integrated sensors, which can measure whether you have fallen, monitor your heart rate, count your daily steps and act as an assistant.
Hearing Performance is maximised with improved sound quality to enhance clarity. Speech enhancement technology boosts and optimises speech levels. Advanced noise control features ensure the listening environment is comfortable.
The Starkey Livio Edge AI hearing aids can be controlled and adjusted through the Thrive app which allows users to fine-tune their hearing aids.
The Starkey Livio Edge AI hearing aid is available in different colours including black to mimic the rising number of wireless earbuds people wear today.
Best In the Ear Hearing Aid
In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids sit in the outer ear. ITE hearing aids are easy to handle and can be very powerful.
We’ve selected the Resound Quattro as the ITE hearing aid for 2020.
The Resound Quattro range has an improved environmental optimiser which accurately classifies the sound environment and then automatically adjusts gain and noise reduction settings. Binaural Directionality III combines with spatial sense and enables the user to hear information from both sides and so they can choose what to focus on.
This model comes with the Resound Smart App which allows the user to make numerous adjustments to the hearing aid and then save their perfect settings.
Best Overall Hearing Aid
Choosing a top overall hearing aid may differ from user to user. Keep in mind that the best hearing aid for you will depend on your personal preferences.
However, we feel the new Widex Moment range is a universally excellent hearing aid for most users. Widex Moment comes in 4 technology levels. The entry-level Widex Moment 110 is packed with new technology and is at an excellent price for brand new Tech! – Widex Moment is available in RIC, CIC, ITC and ITE. The new RIC rechargeable version is, at time of release, the smallest rechargeable RIC hearing aid on the market. The RIC 10 is the smallest RIC new hearing instrument on the market.
Choosing from Hearing Aid Reviews
With so many hearing aids to choose from, it’s important to evaluate the best hearing aids to buy based on your individual needs. Hearing aids for seniors come in very different fits, styles and performance.
Contact soundhearing.org today for more advice about hearing aids for elderly people. We’re dedicated to making it as easy as possible for you to purchase hearing aids and to help you understand how to use them.