8 Tips in Choosing the best Hearing-Aid for an Elder

8 Tips in Choosing the best Hearing-Aid for an Elder
September 27 09:16 2023 by admin Print This Article


In the last three decades, there have been rapid advances in both design and technology used for hearing-aids. Today, there are multiple types of hearing-aids to suit the budget, taste, aesthetic preference and comfort level of customers. However, there is a small downside to this. There is an explosion in the number of players who are offering such products today, with some of them making spurious claims. So there is a dilemma among buyers as to which is the best option for the elder. In this article, we will provide some guidelines shared by doctors.

Hearing loss, and working of a hearing aid

Once an elder is diagnosed with hearing-loss, he/she must visit an audiologist. This is a specialist doctor who has the right qualification, training, experience and instruments to decide the extent of hearing-loss. This should be the first step always. People with hearing-loss should avoid directly purchasing a hearing-aid, without meeting an audiologist first. The audiologist will educate the patient on the working, and types of hearing-aids available in the market today.

All hearing-aids have 3 main components: an amplifier, a microphone and a speaker. The microphone absorbs sound coming from different sources (which includes both wanted and unwanted sounds). The absorbed sound is then converted into electrical signals, after which the signals are increased by the amplifier. The amplified sound is then sent to the inner-ear with the help of a speaker.

Types of Hearing-Aids

There are broadly 4 types of Hearing-aids available today.

Behind-the-ear (BTE)

This type is ideal for people with mild to severe hearing-loss. A BTE-type aid is placed behind the ear. There is a compartment behind the ear, which is connected to the earmold (the part of the aid which is inside the ear) through a connecting tube. The BTE compartment has a microphone, battery-box and controls. They are also durable, easy to use and maintain.

In-the-ear (ITE)

This type is also ideal for people with mild to severe hearing-loss. As the name implies, here the aid has all its components placed inside the ear. These are placed inside a shell that fills up the outer part of the ear. They are generally larger than the ITC type of aid.  They are slightly larger in comparison to the ITC aids. They are easy to handle, and come with an add-on feature called telecoil. The telecoil makes communication over phone-calls easier.

In-the-canal (ITC)

This type is suited for people with mild to moderate hearing-loss and is not recommended for people with severe hearing-loss. Here, the aid is placed inside the ear-canal. This consists of a lightweight plastic shell that contains all the components. It is easy to use and maintain. It is customised as per the size and shape of the person’s ears which is why it’s most comfortable compared to other types.

Receiver-in-canal (RIC)

This type is suited for people with mild to moderate hearing-loss. Compared to the other types of aids, this is the smallest. This consists of a receiver-style device inserted into the ear-canals. The receiver is small in size and the connecting tube is also barely visible.

Hybrid types of Hearing aid such as Open Fit are also becoming popular. Further, the latest hearing-aids come with high-tech features including: Noise reduction controls, Directional microphones, Rechargeable batteries, Telecoils, Wireless connectivity, Remote controls, Direct audio input, Variable programmed settings and Synchronization between the 2 ears.

Another major classification of the hearing-aids includes:

  • Daily-wear aids: These must be worn upon waking and removed while sleeping. They should also be removed while swimming or showering. The batteries need frequent replacement.
  • Extended-wear aids: These need not be removed on a daily basis and remain inside the ear. They can be worn while showering but must be removed before swimming. The batteries last around 2 months after which the entire device must be replaced.

Tips and Guidelines while choosing hearing-aids

  1. Buy a specific aid for a specific condition

Not all hearing aids are equal. They are designed for different ailments or conditions. While most of them are for age-related hearing loss, some are for tinnitus and some for dementia. That is why, its important to first understand what is the condition that is causing difficulty in hearing. An audiologist is a specialist who will diagnose the condition correctly and then recommend the right kind of hearing-aid.

  1. Ensure the product is user-friendly

Not all users of hearing-aids are the same. Depending on their exposure to technology, their eyesight, extent of hearing loss, their profile and communication needs, their lifestyle and desires, the preference  for a particular type of aid can vary from person to person. The elder must be comfortable with the type chosen. Once you are convinced about their comfort level, you can introduce them to the aid’s features like manual controls, rechargeable batteries, direct audio input, wireless connectivity and noise reduction. This will enhance the power and capabilities of the hearing-aid.

  1. Understand that there are some accessories involved

To ensure optimal working condition, lifespan and to enhance its capabilities, hearing-aids come with accessories such as chargers, cleaning tools, dehumidifiers and streamers.

  1. Digital is better than Analog

Analog hearing aids are what have been around for a very long time. These just pick up the existing sounds and increase their volume. In contrast, digital hearing aids convert the sounds into digital bits of data, and then amplify them. This way, the output is much better or the sound delivered is a lot cleaner.

  1. The aid must be locally programmable

Modern-day, digital hearing aids come with the ability to program or customize parameters such as volume, frequency, intensity level, noise attenuation and maximum power output. The programming or customization is important as the extent of hearing loss is different from person to person and can even differ from ear to ear. The programming can be done by either the manufacturer, or an audiologist. Always choose an aid which can be programmed by an audiologist too and not just the manufacturer alone. This flexibility is useful as the hearing condition may keep changing with age, season of the year, other health conditions, etc. Else, you will be locked to the manufacturer’s settings and getting them changed from time to time is a big hassle.

  1. Rechargeable Batteries are better than disposable batteries

Previously, hearing-aids with disposable batteries was the norm. These batteries would last 5-7 days on an average and had to be changed every week, making it a big hassle. Rechargeable batteries remove this hassle altogether. Given that everyone uses a mobile today and undertakes daily recharging of the same, recharging the batteries on a hearing aid every day, won’t seem much like a hassle.

  1. Ensure you can do a trial run

Almost all manufacturers of hearing aids offer a no-obligation trial with a full refund in case the customer is not satisfied. In some countries like the US, this trial period is even mandatory. However, these laws vary from country to country and from state to state. Check this point before purchase, and have the trial period terms and conditions given to you in writing. Else, exchanging them later or getting a refund can be very challenging.

  1. Ensure there is local technical support

Modern-day hearing aids are specialized technology tools. Like with any other device, they need qualified and trained technicians to repair them. Such support is necessary as technical glitches can happen, like with any other device. Ensure the manufacturer is offering technical support in the city where you live. This will ensure quick repair. Else, dispatching them to a distant city, having them repaired and then receiving it, can prolong the discomfort for the patient and affect his/her life.


In addition to the above guidelines, Check-out the IP Rating of the product.

The hearing aid must be durable against damage by water (humidity / moisture), sand and debris. This is important as the user may shower wearing the aid and would venture outdoors where humidity, debris, sand and dust are inevitable.

To grade the durability of the hearing-aid against all such physical damages, the International Electrotechnical Commission or IEC has come up with a 2-digit IP number. This IP number is not to be confused with the IP number used in the context of websites and internet-based tools. Here, IP stands for Ingress Protection (‘Ingress’ being a synonym for ‘entry’ or ‘intrusion’, referring to intrusion by water droplets or solid particles into the hearing-aid).

The first digit is an indicator of protection against debris, dust, or sand, on a scale of 1 to 7. The second digit is an indicator of resistance to humidity/moisture, again on a scale of 1 to 9. For example, a rating of IP 67 means the device offers excellent protection against solid objects such as sand and debris, and moderate protection (around 30 minutes) against water that does not submerge the aid. Choose an IP where both digits are high.

Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Hosur, Salem, Tirunelveli and Bengaluru, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.

Chennai – Alwarpet/Vadapalani 044 4000 6000 • Trichy – Cantonment – 0431 4077777 • Trichy – Heartcity – 0431 4003500 • Trichy – Tennur – 0431 4022555 • Hosur – 04344 272727 • Salem – 0427 2677777 • Tirunelveli – 0462 4006000 • Bengaluru – 080 6801 6801

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