Hearing loss is a common among seniors. The NIH estimates that approximately one out of three people over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss.
The good news? There are many modern hearing aids available to help seniors restore their hearing and improve their quality of life. Hearing aids have come a long way and now come with simple, discreet, and easy-to-use designs. Good riddance to the big and beige designs of the past.
This article will examine five of the best hearing aids for senior citizens. We'll also discuss some factors to consider when selecting a hearing aid (including price, functionality and dexterity)and provide information about financial support options for seniors on a fixed income.
Let's start with some background.
Hearing loss becomes more prevalent with age. Both genetics and environment can contribute to the development of sensorineural hearing loss.
Age-related hearing loss, called presbycusis, most commonly affects high frequencies. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, can increase the likelihood of developing hearing loss.
After age fifty, it is wise to have a baseline hearing test for comparison later in life.
High-frequency hearing loss can make it hard to understand speech, pick up on environmental sounds, or even hear certain alarms.
The result is that conversation is much harder to understand, as speech lacks clarity. It becomes hard to hear what grandkids, friends or a doctor is saying. Personal safety may also be more at risk, as sounds such as doorbells and phone rings are not as easily audible.
Factors seniors should consider when choosing hearing aids.
Selecting the right style and type of hearing aid should take into consideration the following factors:
- Durability / Warranty
When it comes to hearing aid care, there are a variety of options available. For an all-inclusive approach, you can purchase a hearing aid with bundled services from a local hearing aid clinic, which usually includes routine follow-up visits, regular cleaning, and occasional adjustments. Use our "shop" tool to find a product and be paired with a local clinic.
Alternatively, direct-to-consumer options like Jabra Enhance Select provide care through Telehealth care rather than in-person visits. Telehealth can be great for folks who live in rural areas or prefer to stay close to home.
Finally, OTC hearing aids offer the least service and require do-it-yourself adjustments using a smartphone.
Typically more service comes at a higher cost but requires less tech-savvy and DIY adjustment. More about affordable options below.
Durability and Warranty
Broken hearing aids can be expensive and disruptive for seniors (and anyone else). That's why durability is another essential factor to consider when choosing a hearing aid. If you spend more time in humid or dusty environments, consider a hearing aid that stands up against these elements. More on hearing aid longevity here.
Most modern hearing aids today incorporate protective capabilities, including water resistance and charger options with built-in dehumidifiers.
As you consider a hearing aid, double-check the warranty and have issues addressed before that warranty lapses.
More premium devices generally come with the highest water resistance (look for IP68) and the most extended warranties (typically 3 years). Affordable devices may have lower IP ratings (sometimes IP57) and shorter warranty durations (1-2 years).
Those with difficulty with dexterity can often find themselves struggling to insert or wear hearing aids.
Thankfully, several hearing aid styles are specifically designed to address this issue. For example, an in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid is one style that can be easier to manage and provide the necessary support for those with problems related to dexterity. ITE hearing aids offer easy insertion and fewer pieces. Read our full guide to hearing aid styles here.
If you (or a loved one) have limited dexterity, consider rechargeable batteries, as they reduce the need for tiny battery changes every 5-7 days.
Do you live an active lifestyle that involves time spent in various challenging acoustic environments? Or do you spend more time in quiet?
Hearing aids come in different technology levels and offer features according to your lifestyle. Premium technology is more appropriate for those with active lifestyles, while standard technology can be enough to benefit those with more quiet lifestyles.
If you're more of a stay-at-home type and spend most of your time in more tranquil settings, less sophisticated hearing aids with standard technology might be suitable for boosting your ability to hear conversations and other sounds.
Choosing the lowest level of technology with less sophisticated background noise handling can save you around $1,500 or more for a pair.
Read more about hearing aid technology levels here.
For those in a wheelchair or care facility, in-person visits to the hearing aid clinic can pose a challenge.
Reach out to your local clinic to request a more spaced-out visit to ensure that your doctor has adequate time to fit and explain your hearing aids.
A local hearing aid clinic can also clean and check the hearing aids at regular intervals between those in-person visits, requiring only that the devices be dropped off rather than visiting the clinic in person.
You may also want to explore options for remote care services. Companies like Yes Hearing bring a mobile clinic to your home, and brands like Jabra Enhance Select program hearing aids through Telehealth.
Many local clinics can also log into your hearing aids remotely for fine-tuning after an initial fitting. Double-check that the hearing aid you choose supports remote follow-up care.
Free or Discounted Hearing Aids For Seniors
For those on a tight budget, there are some additional options to consider for support in the financial aspect of the hearing aid process:
- Financing. Many companies and clinics offer affordable plans to fit within your budget. Jabra Enhance Select offers prices as low as $39 a month per pair.
- Have you served in the military? Reach out to the VA to see if you qualify for hearing aid coverage through service connection. Read more here.
- Do you have a Medicare Advantage plan? You may be eligible for discount pricing through a third party like TruHearing. Read more here.
- Lions Club. The Lions Club is an international organization that provides hearing aids at low or no cost through donations to their hearing aid bank. Read more about your local Lions Club here.
- Medicaid is a state and federal insurance program. Each state has different eligibility requirements, with hearing aid coverage in some states. Find out more about your state here.
80% of hearing aid wearers report that the devices significantly improve their lives and communication. Whether you are 45 or 85, it's worth investing in your hearing.
When selecting a hearing aid, there are many important factors to consider, such as lifestyle needs, dexterity concerns, budget restrictions, service availability, and dependability.
Additionally, numerous financial assistance programs can help seniors on fixed incomes cover some or all of their hearing aid costs.
We hope this blog post has given you some food for thought when it comes time to make your hearing aid selection.