Hearing loss occurs in many people as they grow older. Aging, however, should not determine the quality of a lifestyle due to a hearing problem because there are several affordable hearing aids for seniors on the market. What can affect lifestyle quality is a failure to tackle the loss in hearing in a timely manner.
There is a vast amount of information available on different kinds of innovative hearing aids and accessories online which may be overwhelming for many seniors and the elderly making them unwilling to wade through all this information.
Making the right hearing aid choice can therefore be a challenge especially with all the different terms being bandied around – affordable hearing aids, cheap hearing aids, amplifiers, inexpensive hearing aids, and many others. But – “what are their differences anyway?”
We will explore these terms and many others below to “set you up for success” in making the right choice of an affordable hearing aid – that should meet your needs, and, not break the bank – for a healthier you!.
First, we need to understand the causes of hearing loss, and the common signs of a hearing problem in many seniors.
What is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is a sudden or (usually) gradual decrease in how well you can hear sound. It is a common and natural result of aging or may be due to many years of exposure to loud noise.
Age-related hearing loss is called “presbycusis”
Age related hearing loss is caused by the natural breakdown of hair cells in the inner ear which prevent sound signals from reaching the brain. Other causes include long term medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
The NIDCD fact sheet also state that hearing loss may also be caused by viral or bacterial infections, stroke, head injuries, tumors, and certain medicines (refer to Age Related Hearing loss – https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/age-related-hearing-loss).
Because of its gradual progression, most people don’t even realize that their hearing is being affected.
Some however, are self-aware, but hesitate to do anything about it because they have heard that hearing aids are expensive and they are unsure if they will be able to find affordable hearing aids that will fit into their budget and lifestyle.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately one in three seniors and the elderly between the ages of 65 and 74 experience some degree of hearing loss.
Nearly half of seniors aged 75 and above have acute difficulty with hearing.
If a hearing problem is not diagnosed and treated early enough, it can cause damage to parts of the brain related to hearing. Sadly, many seniors have tried to manage the condition without hearing aids or amplifiers by withdrawing from family and friends.
Some have even resorted to managing the condition independently with over the counter purchases without having any hearing tests because of concerns about costs!
Signs of Age-Related Hearing Loss
Several of the tell-tale signs of age-related hearing loss are listed below since this type hearing loss shows up as a change in behavior of the senior:
- Difficulty understanding conversations especially when there is background noise.
- Difficulty hearing when someone speaks in a whisper
- Misunderstanding what people say and not answering appropriately or arguing with them over what they said
- Difficulty following conversations when two or more people are talking at the same time
- Straining to understand a conversation and frequently asking people to repeat themselves
- Complaining that other people mumble their speech
- Difficulty hearing over the telephone
- Turning the TV volume up too high
- Tinnitus, a ringing or hissing sound in one or both ears may occur
- A man’s voice is easier to hear than the higher pitches of a woman’s voice
- High pitched sounds are difficult to hear or distinguish
If this sounds like you, the most important thing you can do is to seek local professional advice for diagnosis and recommendation of appropriate hearing aids or amplifiers.
The last thing you want to do is to keep putting this off because you think you will be unable to find an affordable hearing aid that can meet your needs.
Once you understand “what is out there” in pretty simple everyday language, as provided in this article, you can then make your choice on what will work best for you. Remember – this is a very important decision for you!
Need to Know Treatments And Devices That Can Help
Your professional advice will recommend treatment suited to your type of hearing loss. The four most common are
- Hearing Aids – These are electronic instruments worn in or behind the ear to make sound louder. There are three main types of hearing aids which differ by where they are placed, their size, and the degree to which they amplify sound for you. These are: Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids, In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids and Canal hearing aids.
- Assistive listening devices – These include cell phone and telephone amplifiers, software on your smart phones or tablets, and closed-circuit systems also called induction loops in large halls, auditoriums, places of worship and theaters.
- Cochlear implants – These are tiny electronic devices that are implanted into the inner ear in cases of severe hearing loss
- Lip reading or speech reading – Some people with difficulty find this helpful for following conversational speech, although it is not for everyone.
So Why Confusing Terms – Cheap Vs Affordable Vs Inexpensive?
It’s very easy for seniors to be overwhelmed by the confusing terms they encounter while researching hearing aids online. The terms cheap, inexpensive or affordable hearing aids appear to just be a question of semantics and are terms that can be used interchangeably. Wrong. There are several differences – apart from price. A great article by MD Hearing Aid deals in depth with many of these differences which have been summarized here.
Let’s start off with some other terms you will encounter
- PSAP – Personal Sound Amplification Products. These are NOT hearing aids and fall under Assistive Listening devices we discussed under “Need to Know Treatments and Devices that Can Help”.
- FDA Registered – This means that the product is registered with the Food and Drug Administration and meets their quality standards
- FDAs ANSI Standards – This means that the product meets the American National Standards Institute and FDA guidelines
Cheap Hearing Aids
- Are really NOT hearing aids. Because they are PSAPs, they are in the strict sense NOT medical grade hearing aids but are Assistive Listening devices that may provide some relief in cases of mild hearing loss
- Are not FDA registered products
- All sounds are amplified equally with limited feedback control in most devices.
- Lack technology to distinguish between voice frequencies and background noise
- Are cheap – some may cost as little as $20 – $40
- Are promoted under various names – PSED, Digital or Smart Amplifiers
Inexpensive Hearing Aids
- These generally also fall under the classification of PSAPs and therefore are technically not FDA approved hearing aids.
- Some are called Hearing Aid Alternatives.
Affordable Hearing Aids For Seniors
- Are FDA registered hearing aids
- Many seniors benefit from these affordable hearing aids because they are direct-to-consumer hearing aids and therefore do not have the “store mark-ups” so frequently encountered.
Make Your Choice – Affordable Hearing Aids For Seniors
This review should help every senior eliminate all the fluff around hearings aids.
The information compiled makes it easy for you to understand the tell-tale signs of age-related hearing loss.
Furthermore you also understand what treatments and devices are available, and the differences in terminology – cheap vs inexpensive vs affordable hearing aids.
Therefore, you are better prepared to more confidently continue on the journey to making the right choice of of the best hearing aid suited for your own needs.
If you have found this article useful, would like other topics to be similarly explained, or, have an experience to share, please leave a comment in the Comment Box below.
1. Study: Cheaper Devices May Work as Well as Hearing Aids (2017) https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2017/inexpensive-hearing-aids-safe-fd.html
2. Hearing Loss and Older Adults (2018) https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing-loss-older-adults
3. Age Related Hearing Loss (2017) https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/age-related-hearing-loss
4. Hearing Loss: A Common Problem for Older Adults (2018) https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/hearing-loss-common-problem-older-adults
5. Age-Related Hearing Loss (Presbycusis) (2020) https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/presbycusis
6. Hearing Loss Symptoms and Causes (2019) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hearing-loss/symptoms-causes/syc-20373072
7. Living With Hearing Loss (2019) https://www.chs.ca/living-hearing-loss?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIn93WyaKE6QIVEj6tBh2s9QRDEAAYAyAAEgJcM_D_BwE