How to choose a hearing aid for the elderly
Most older people believe that all devices that improve the perception of sounds with hearing loss are hearing aids. But this is not true, there are hearing amplifiers and, in fact, hearing aids. What to choose?
Types of hearing aids
Choosing a device that compensates for hearing loss for an elderly person is not easy. It is important to consider:
severity of hearing impairment (from mild, first degree to almost complete hearing loss in the fourth degree),
preferences, convenience of the device;
Of course, ideally, you need to choose a device with an audiologist so that he gives specific instructions on which device is best suited and does not harm hearing even more. But let’s try to understand the main characteristics of hearing devices, evaluate all their important criteria. And the first thing you need to know is what a hearing amplifier is and what a hearing aid is. These are different devices both in cost and in their functional purpose and effect on the ear.
The hearing amplifier is a simple device, it is not considered a medical product and does not require mandatory certification. You can buy it yourself, but how it will affect the hearing of an elderly person is a big question. Often the sound quality in it is low, it is necessary to constantly adjust, turn up the volume, which can reduce already poor hearing. Hearing amplifiers are acceptable for minor disorders, but it is better to choose them with a doctor.
Pros and cons of hearing amplifiers
Own hearing aids
Pros and cons of hearing aids
According to the method of fixation
When choosing a device, it is important how it will be worn. Doctors distinguish four types of hearing aids depending on where they are worn, the products have certain features.
Pocket hearing aids
Rarely seen these days. Most of them work on analog technology, although there are also modern digital ones. The case has a powerful microphone and a signal amplifier. A wire connects the main unit to a small earpiece that is inserted into the affected ear. This earpiece is available in standard sizes or custom made to fit the patient.
The device is suitable for the elderly, as it is easy to use even for those patients who have problems with coordination of movements and vision. The box can be put in your pocket by inserting the earpiece into your ear. The device has no whistles, feedback, as the microphone and earpiece are located in separate parts of the device. The products are powerful, well correct even severe hearing loss. They are inexpensive, and only require wearing in a place where the device does not rub against clothing and objects.
Behind the ear hearing aids
The most popular in hearing aids. The body is located behind the affected ear, and a tube with a special insert fits into the ear canal. These devices are easy to use, easy to maintain, and therefore suitable for the elderly. The price of devices depends on their functionality, type of settings and programming features.
These are powerful devices, they will help with severe hearing loss, help to suppress extraneous noise, and are comfortable to wear.
Important! Separately, it is worth highlighting behind-the-ear devices with a remote receiver. Although they are smaller in size, they will help only with moderate and weak hearing problems.
In-the-ear hearing aids
These are almost invisible products that are easy to use. They are placed in the ear canal or partially in the auricle. The first models were primitive, weak and with a lot of shortcomings, but now manufacturers have taken into account the mistakes, modern models are quite powerful and can help with moderate and severe hearing loss.
The main advantages are the small size and individual body shapes. This helps to fix them well in the ear, repeating the outline of the shell. They are suitable for older people leading a fairly active lifestyle.
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in-ear hearing aids
They are placed in the ear canal, they are not visible to others. They are smaller in size than the previous group, but their power is also weaker. Help with mild to moderate hearing problems. Older people are not always suitable, they are expensive and capricious in care, they cannot be used against the background of perforation of the membrane or chronic otitis media.
signal processing method
It is important to know how sound is processed, as each type of instrument has its own characteristics.
Analog hearing aids
Such devices cannot “separate” speech from all sounds, they do not suppress noise. They pick up all the surrounding sounds and transmit them to the ear. They are no longer used in modern hearing aids, but some manufacturers produce them because older patients may prefer them if they are not used to digital processing. Usually these are pocket devices or behind the ear, with an extremely simple device, which is why they break less often. They can also be used for people with chronic otitis media. However, the quality of the transmitted sound is not high, the devices themselves are large.
Digital hearing aids
Digital devices can distinguish speech, reduce the intensity of harsh sounds and eliminate whistles. They also allow you to easily communicate on your mobile phone and listen to music. They convert sounds into digital codes, so they adapt to the characteristics of the owner’s hearing. Any type of device can be digital — pocket, behind-the-ear, in-the-ear and in-the-canal. They recognize different types of sounds well, change settings depending on the noise environment. However, they have a high price and are not recommended for a number of diseases of the ENT organs (the first six months after a stroke, epileptic syndrome, the presence of an acoustic neuroma, a state of acute hearing loss (neurosensory) in the first three months, sulfur plugs, acute otitis).
A step-by-step guide to choosing a hearing aid
Device power according to the degree of hearing loss
To hear the surrounding sounds and speech well, you need to choose the right power of the device. The device must have sufficient amplification of sounds so that it not only compensates for hearing loss, but also has a certain reserve if hearing deteriorates over time.
I degree of hearing loss
With a mild degree, if hearing is impaired in the range from 26 to 40 dB (this is the I degree of hearing loss), you can choose any type of device. Doctors usually recommend intra-canal or intra-ear models for these patients, even the smallest ones. Manufacturers often give designations for them by type — Petite, XS, Micro, S.
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II degree of hearing loss
With hearing loss ranging from 41 to 55 dB (this is the II degree of hearing loss), most modern devices can be used. In-the-ear, intra-ear, or behind-the-ear devices are shown. They may be labeled M.
III degree of hearing loss
IV degree of hearing loss
With severe hearing loss, with a spread of 71 to 90 dB (this is a IV degree with a disability), powerful pocket or behind-the-ear models can help. They are usually designated XP or UP and are limited editions. Due to these devices, even difficult problems can be compensated.
There are also a number of useful features that will help you make the final choice in favor of a particular model.
Number of channels
Modern models can have up to 64 channels. Voice recognition and the overall signal quality depend on their number. Each channel is a certain sound range, in the area of which the gain is adjusted. But focusing only on the number of channels is wrong, other factors are also important.
There are three option options. The very first models were without directional microphoneand it was difficult for them to tune in to pick up the sounds of speech. Fixed directional microphones can distinguish speech only when the interlocutor is directly opposite the person. If this adapted microphone directivity He turns to the source of the sound. The most modern devices can “obey” the owner — the orientation can be finely tuned.
Noise cancellation system
This function helps to weed out additional noise, making speech intelligible in different situations (devices suppress noise, while amplifying the voice). This is especially important for those people who lead an active lifestyle, are in crowded places.
People who communicate using mobile phones will certainly benefit from the wireless module. This is a function of connecting to a mobile phone, with the possibility of a comfortable conversation.
A number of other functions are also necessary for choosing a hearing aid, especially when it comes to older people. These include:
Volume control: it will help in setting up any device to the most comfortable level.
Switching programs: useful for those older people who are often in different noise situations — watching TV, noisy parties, relaxing in the forest, talking. For each, you can adjust your volume.
Rest for the ears: the program allows you to give rest to people who suffer from tinnitus.
In the elderly, all types of hearing aids can be used. Limitations are associated only with the level of hearing loss and the patient’s ability to care for a particular model of hearing aid, use in everyday life.
The use of one hearing aid or monaural hearing aid for bilateral hearing loss is most often associated with financial issues for the patient, if there are no medical contraindications (frequent exacerbation of the purulent process on one side).
Today’s hearing aids are digital devices that can be adjusted to different types of hearing loss based on the patient’s individual examination findings.
Certificates for hearing aids are provided by the manufacturer, certification of these products in the territory of the Russian Federation is obligatory.