Caregiver comforting distressed elderly woman

Researching the best hearing aids for seniors? Learn the differences between ITE hearing aids, BTE hearing aids, and ITC hearing aids to pick the best option for you.

Types of Hearing Aids

There are several hearing aids that cater to different preferences and needs. Here are the common types available:

  1. In-the-Ear (ITE): These are custom-made to fit entirely inside the outer ear and help those with mild to severe hearing loss. They’re easier to handle and adjust but are more susceptible to earwax clogging. However, they can be more visible than smaller models and may pick up more wind noise.
  2. Behind-the-Ear (BTE): This is the most common type of hearing aid. They sit behind or on top of the outer ear with tubing that routes sound into the ear. They’re capable of more amplification and are easier to clean than other styles, but they are also the most visible type of hearing aid.
  3. In-the-Canal (ITC): These are custom molded and fit partly in the ear canal, offering a less visible option with easy battery replacement and volume control. However, their smaller size might make them challenging to handle for some seniors, and the smaller batteries mean shorter battery life.
  4. Completely-in-Canal (CIC): These are nearly hidden in the ear canal and are for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. CIC hearing aids pick up less wind noise than other hearing aids. They are the least visible type of hearing aid, but because of that, they use very small batteries with a short life.
  5. Receiver-in-Canal (RIC): This type is like BTE, but the speaker is inside the ear canal for a more natural sound. The hearing aid has direction microphones and manual control options.

Over the-Counter Hearing Aids

The FDA created an over-the-counter hearing aid category in 2022 that you can buy without a prescription. They’re generally less expensive and are good for those experiencing mild to moderate hearing loss. However, they don’t offer the same level of customization and professional support as traditional hearing aids.

Costs and Considerations

The cost of hearing aids and hearing tests can vary widely based on the type, features, and provider. The expense is typically why people avoid getting hearing aids, and unfortunately, they’re not usually covered by Medicare Parts A and B or private insurance plans. However, Forbes finds that Medicare Part C offers hearing aid benefits. The average cost of a pair of hearing aids ranges from $2,000 to $7,000, according to GoodRx. The tinier and more discreet the hearing aid, the more expensive they typically are.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are generally less expensive but might not meet the needs of all seniors. A good hearing aid is an investment in quality of life, so consider both the price and the value it provides.

Navigating the Options

With so many types of hearing aids and new technologies, it can be overwhelming to make the right choice. First, the Mayo Clinic recommends that your senior see an audiologist to make sure they’re truly experiencing hearing loss, not a correctable issue such as earwax buildup or an infection. Audiologists and hearing care professionals can offer valuable guidance and support and help you understand the specific needs of your senior loved one. They know what the best hearing aids for seniors are and can offer recommendations for the best hearing aids for your loved one based on their lifestyle and degree of hearing loss.

When choosing the specific hearing aid, ask about a trial period so your loved one can ensure it’s perfect. Additionally, make sure the hearing aid can handle an increase in power in case of increased hearing loss.

How A Place At Home Can Help

Using an in-home care provider, like A Place At Home, that offers healthcare navigation services, such as attending doctor’s appointments, is extremely helpful in making care and treatment plan decisions. Our caregivers can go with your loved one to hearing tests, help them manage and take care of their hearing aids, and offer the companionship and support they need to stay socially engaged and mentally stimulated. Find an A Place At Home location near you to get started.

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