We are happy that you have made a decision to use hearing aids. Studies have shown that the majority of the people take about 3 years before they finally buy a hearing aid. Every person buying hearing aids has asked this question to his hearing aid fitter before finalising. “Which is the best Hearing Aid for me?” The simple answer to this question is “The best Hearing Aid is the one that suits the user’s needs”. Not the type of answer you would expect from an authoritative blog on hearing aids. Let us tell you why? Basically, the selection of hearing aids depends on the Type of Hearing loss and the degree or percentage of hearing Loss.
The above 2 factors remain the basic parameters for the selection of hearing aids. There are other factors which one should consider before finalising. Read further to know which other factors you should keep in mind.
You have already undergone the audiometric testing as recommended and the audiologist has advised you to start using hearing aids. The general procedure at your hearing aid dispenser’s clinic will start with a detailed study of your audiogram or your audiometric report. Based on your audiogram, the audiologist will suggest a few models. At this stage, you will ask the audiologist for the best hearing aid for you? Let us help you to choose the right one.
Which Is The Best Hearing Aid?
It is obvious that we want the best hearing aid for ourselves or for our parents. We will explain the facts you should look for while selecting a hearing aid for yourself.
The correct choice of the hearing device will decide whether they are the best hearing aids and you will continue to use them or just put them away after some time.
What are the Factors for Selection of Hearing Aids?
Once your audiologist or dispenser has studied your audiogram, he or she will select an appropriate hearing aid from the wide range available with them.
Your hearing aid dispenser has access to the technical specifications and the performance parameters of the hearing devices. Each model will differ in specification like power output, gain, compression etc. Your dispenser will match the specifications of the hearing aids to the requirement as per the audiogram.
While your hearing aid dispenser will ensure that the hearing aids offered are technically suitable and the best for you, what is more important is whether the hearing aid suits your lifestyle?
If this is your first visit, do read our article on what to expect at your first hearing aid fitting to get familiar with the procedure
Why Lifestyle Is So Important for Selection of Hearing Aids?
While all hearing aids will technically deliver sound and are programmed or tuned as per your hearing loss. Your lifestyle should determine the style of the hearing aid you finally buy. If you have selected the right type of hearing aid, you will be comfortable and use it regularly, for you it will be the best hearing aid. If you have not made the right choice, the hearing aid will be inconvenient to use and will end up in the closet.
Before we read about the different lifestyles, let us have a brief look at the different types of hearing aids or hearing aid styles.
What are the Types of Hearing Aids?
Hearing devices come in different sizes or styles having various features. You can read on the Types of Digital Hearing aids to become familiar with the latest styles.
Besides the technical suitability of the hearing aid, which your audiologist will ensure, the other important factor in the selection of hearing aids is that it should agree with your daily living routine or lifestyle. You should make sure that you discuss your lifestyle with the audiologist.
Below are some of the common lifestyles, check these lifestyles and find out where you fit in.
What Are The Common Lifestyles of Hearing Aid Users?
We have classified the common Lifestyles into 3 broad categories.
Hearing aids for professionally active lifestyle
Hearing aids for socially active lifestyle
Hearing aids for the retired lifestyle
Hearing Aids for Professionally Active Lifestyle
Hearing Loss is now affecting people in their 40’s, most professionals start handling senior level responsibilities in their 40’s. Any handicap at this stage will reduce their growth prospects. Most young people avoid using a hearing aid as they do not want others to know that they are using hearing aids. But it does not mean they should avoid using them. It is rightly said that one can easily hide a hearing aid but it is difficult to hide a hearing loss. The hearing loss will sooner or later become obvious as they miss on a few words during discussions and meetings. Besides this, they are in danger of suffering from an increase in their hearing loss in the future.
What are the 2 Main Factors for Selecting the Style and Type of Hearing Aids?
The 2 main factors are:
Is the hearing aid visible to others? Will others know I am using a hearing aid?
What are the features of the hearing aid? How can they make my life easier?
Visibility of the Hearing Aid
For professional reasons, it is understandable that people do not want others to know that they are using a hearing aid. It is not a major issue as the latest digital technology has enabled manufacturers to reduce the size of the hearing devices to such an extent that they are almost or totally invisible.
The following hearing aids are advisable for working professionals.
Invisible in Canal or IIC Hearing Aids
The IIC or Invisible In Canal style of hearing aids slide deep into the ear canal and are not visible at all. The tip of the IIC almost touches the eardrum. A nylon pulling string attached to the Hearing aid helps the user to pull them out when retiring for the night.
Completely in Canal or CIC Hearing Aid
A CIC or Completely in the Canal hearing aid is slightly larger than an IIC. It also fits into the ear canal but does not fit as deep as the IIC. In a majority of the cases, a CIC is also acceptable.
In The Canal or ITC Hearing Aid
The ITC or the In the Canal style of hearing aid is slightly larger than a CIC type. The face plate or the front portion is slightly visible since it’s slightly big. It does not fit deep into the ear canal. For ladies or men with long hair, it can be cosmetically covered with the hair falling over the ears to avoid people noticing it. The major advantage is that ITC can cover hearing loss higher than that covered by the IIC or the CIC.
Receiver In the Canal or RIC/RITE
The RIC (Receiver In Canal) or RITE (Receiver in The Ear) type of hearing aid has a very thin wire leading to the Ear. It is almost invisible as the thin wire is not noticeable. The RIC is small in size as the receiver fits in the ear. These type can suit people with profound hearing loss also.
What are the Features Available in Hearing Aids?
The new technology offers basic Hearing aid features which are quite common in all types. If your budget permits, you can check the features in advanced digital Hearing aids. Besides the regular noise cancellation and anti-feedback features, they also offer Auto Acclimatization, Remote control and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Auto Acclimatization mode enables the hearing aid to automatically change its setting as the user moves from one environment or location to another. If hearing aids with this feature is expensive, a Remote Control will do the job equally well. The remote control stays in the pocket and used to change the volume and program without drawing much attention.
Bluetooth connectivity is equally important as mobile phone calls can be directly streamed to the user’s ears without external disturbances.
2. Hearing Aids for Socially Active Lifestyle
A socially active lifestyle is when the user is professionally retired but socially active. The user visits clubs, attends social get-togethers and other outdoor sports activities.
Visibility of the Hearing Aid
We estimate that the user with this type of lifestyle is around 60 years old. At this age, visibility might not be an issue for everyone. People who are conscious about the cosmetic appeal can select hearing aids from the options given above for the professionally active users.
For those who are not very conscious but at the same time would like some convenience can opt for the BTE or Behind the Ear style of hearing aid.
Behind The Ear or BTE
These BTE style of hearing aids are also quite small and hide behind the Ear. The only visible part is the tube which carries the sound to the ear and the ear mould.
Hearing Aid Features
Socially active users who generally attend get-togethers also require features which can clearly pick up speech or sound signals while chatting in a group. Features like noise reduction and anti-feedback are necessary. Study the advanced features in Hearing aids available and select the ones which benefit the most. The latest hearing aids like the Starkey Livio AI has features which monitor health parameters. The Oticon Opn is connected to the Internet and gives mail and social media alerts.
3. Hearing Aids for the Retired Lifestyle
People leading a retired or semi-retired lifestyle are the ones who are generally at home but occasionally attend social and cultural functions.
While visibility might not be such a big issue at this age, handling the hearing aid is very important. Users need steady hands to handle the small hearing aids like the IIC, CIC and ITC. The outer shell made of acrylic material is delicate and brittle. If dropped on the hard floor the outer shell cracks or breaks. A broken instrument requires re-shelling and repairs by the manufacturer.
A BTE or a RIC style is advisable for the elders as they are easy to handle and operate. The switches and buttons for program and volume change are big and can be easily operated. The battery is big in size, which is easy to insert and remove. The elders do not have to depend on anyone to help them put on and use these aids. We consider these as the best hearing aids for the seniors.
Hearing Aid Features
Do checkout the basic features ln Digital Hearing aids. Though we call it basic, these hearing aids are multi-channel and have multiple program settings. The program or setting can be changed depending on whether you are having a conversation or watching TV. The available BTE and RIC style is also available with advanced features.
The use of Hearing aids can enhance the life of the deaf and hard of hearing person, one does not have to give up any of the enjoyable activities. Neglecting hearing loss and not using Digital Hearing aids can affect one’s health, recent studies suggest that neglect of ear health leads to depression among the elders. We hope our advice has helped you choose the best hearing aid for yourself or your loved ones.