How to choose a hearing aid for the elderly

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How to choose a hearing aid for the elderly

If your hear­ing is severe­ly impaired, con­sid­er pur­chas­ing a hear­ing aid for com­fort and safe­ty. The choice is espe­cial­ly dif­fi­cult when it comes to an elder­ly per­son.
How to choose a hearing aid for the elderly
Choos­ing a hear­ing aid for an elder­ly per­son is not an easy task. Pho­to: Shut­ter­stock

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:

    patient’s age,
    severity of hearing impairment (from mild, first degree to almost complete hearing loss in the fourth degree),
    Lifestyle;
    preferences, convenience of the device;
    material component.

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.

Hearing Amplifiers

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

Easy to use, cheap, no com­pli­cat­ed set­tings
Does not require cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, and the result of the appli­ca­tion is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict, the sound qual­i­ty is poor, there are nois­es, pro­gres­sion of hear­ing prob­lems is pos­si­ble

Own hearing aids

A hear­ing aid is a com­plex med­ical device, often with a dig­i­tal “stuff­ing”, it is select­ed togeth­er with a doc­tor and cus­tomized.

Pros and cons of hearing aids

Must be cer­ti­fied and sold on the rec­om­men­da­tion of a doc­tor, it is pos­si­ble to select indi­vid­u­al­ly, the sound qual­i­ty is high, noise is elim­i­nat­ed
You need to set up the device togeth­er with a doc­tor, high cost com­pared to hear­ing ampli­fiers

In addi­tion, when choos­ing a hear­ing aid, oth­er char­ac­ter­is­tics, wear­ing com­fort and addi­tion­al fea­tures of the device are also impor­tant.

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.

On a note!

Which mod­els of hear­ing aids were named the best by the KP jour­nal­ist

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).

Dig­i­tal hear­ing aids, includ­ing behind-the-ear mod­els, can dis­tin­guish speech, reduce the inten­si­ty of harsh sounds and elim­i­nate whis­tles. Pho­to: Shut­ter­stock

A step-by-step guide to choosing a hearing aid

To choose the right device, you need to focus on the char­ac­ter­is­tics of hear­ing, the sever­i­ty of hear­ing loss and a num­ber of addi­tion­al char­ac­ter­is­tics.

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.

Good to know

The ear does not hear: what to do in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion

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

With severe hear­ing loss rang­ing from 56 to 70 dB (III degree), the choice of devices is already lim­it­ed. Usu­al­ly these are behind-the-ear devices, which may be marked — P or XP.

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.

For severe hear­ing loss, behind-the-ear devices are usu­al­ly rec­om­mend­ed, but pow­er­ful pock­et mod­els can also help. Pho­to: Glob­al­look­press

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.

Directional microphones

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.

Wireless module

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.

Other features

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.
A hear­ing aid intend­ed for the elder­ly should have a vol­ume con­trol func­tion. Pho­to: Glob­al­look­press

Doctor’s advice

We asked Anna Khugaye­va, an audi­ol­o­gist, a few ques­tions about the nuances of choos­ing a hear­ing aid for an elder­ly per­son.

Do seniors need to wear hear­ing aids?
Elder­ly patients, even those with mild hear­ing loss, need to wear hear­ing aids. Since hear­ing impair­ment leads to a dete­ri­o­ra­tion in the qual­i­ty of life, it makes it dif­fi­cult to com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers, hence the feel­ing of iso­la­tion, fatigue, lone­li­ness.

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.

Do I need to wear the device on one or both ears?
The use of two hear­ing aids or bin­au­r­al hear­ing aids pro­vides bet­ter speech intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty, espe­cial­ly in noise, local­iza­tion of the sound source, and improves the sub­jec­tive feel­ing of sound qual­i­ty.

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).

What is the dif­fer­ence between a hear­ing aid and a hear­ing ampli­fi­er?
The Hear­ing Ampli­fi­er gives a lin­ear ampli­fi­ca­tion of the entire fre­quen­cy spec­trum of the sound, with­out tak­ing into account the exam­i­na­tion of a par­tic­u­lar patient, which can even­tu­al­ly lead to an increase in the degree of hear­ing loss.

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.

Where can you buy a hear­ing aid?
The hear­ing aid must be select­ed and adjust­ed at the doc­tor’s appoint­ment. A hear­ing aid pur­chased from an online store may not be suit­able for this patient in terms of its tech­ni­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Cer­tifi­cates for hear­ing aids are pro­vid­ed by the man­u­fac­tur­er, cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of these prod­ucts in the ter­ri­to­ry of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion is oblig­a­tory.

By Yraa

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