Hearing loss occurs for a variety of reasons. Although many people assume that hearing loss is a natural part of the aging process, this is not true of all people with hearing loss. Some seniors experience hearing loss at a younger age, but never used a hearing aid, or need a new hearing aid that best meets their current needs.
There are several factors associated with hearing loss, and the ideal hearing aid that is best for every person that needs a hearing aid. Some seniors and other individuals with hearing loss have specific hearing aid preferences.
One type of hearing aid is the behind the ear (BTE) hearing aid. Learn about this type of hearing aid, and how it compares to other hearing aids. Consider details about cost. This information possibly helps you decide if this is the best type of hearing aid for you or for the hearing aid needs of your senior loved one.
The Behind the Ear Hearing Aid
Today’s modern technological advances crosses over into the hearing aid industry. Some seniors likely think of behind the ear hearing aids as large, bulky, beige devices that fit behind the ear. Seniors that have never worn or that have not recently worn a hearing aid likely fear ridicule, or discomfort when wearing the device. It is no wonder that some older individuals refuse to have a comprehensive hearing exam, or refuse to wear a hearing aid because of these fictitious myths.
The behind the ear hearing aid is a popular style, and one that no longer has the stigma that it once had years ago. It is traditionally the largest style of hearing aid. Today’s models however, are smaller, more streamlined, and more comfortable for the senior wearing a behind the ear hearing aid.
The device is fitted inside a small, hard plastic case. The case typically connects to an ear mold by a small piece of clear plastic tubing. Modern versions of behind the ear hearing aids possibly features a thin wire or dome mold rather than the traditional style of ear mold that goes into your ear canal.
When seniors consider a BTE hearing aid, one newer model likely appeals to seniors, or the loved ones of seniors. The behind the ear open fitting hearing aid consists of a smaller plastic case that sits behind the ear, similar to the traditional BTE hearing aid. The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) explains that with the BTE open fitting hearing aid, a small, thin, clear tube runs into the ear canal. A tiny tip holds this style of BTE hearing aid in place.
Behind the Ear vs In the Canal Hearing Aids
Seniors or their family members likely want to know details about similarities and differences between behind the ear (BTE) and in the canal (ITC) hearing aids. Comparing these types of hearing aids potentially helps you make decisions regarding which is the best hearing aid option for you or your loved one.
The BTE hearing aid, which fits externally behind or over the ear, is more noticeable than an in the canal (ITC) hearing aid. Several sources mention the fact that behind the ear models are more often worn by children that need a hearing aid.
While some adults potentially feel self-conscious about wearing a behind the ear hearing aid, remember that the ear molds can be changed periodically. Another factor that may still make the behind the ear hearing aid the right choice for seniors is the fact that newer styles are less noticeable than older BTE hearing aids.
The in the canal hearing aid is the smallest type of hearing aid. When compared to the size of the BTE hearing aid, the smaller size of the ITC styles is potentially a major reason that some seniors choose the ITC hearing aid.
The in the canal style of hearing aid fits partially in your ear canal. There are different sizes, which likely appeals to people that wear hearing aids.
One of the major downsides of the ITC hearing aid is the fact that it is best for mild to moderate hearing loss. Compare this information to the fact that the BTE hearing aids are suitable for all types of hearing loss, from mild to profound hearing loss. You likely want to consider this detail, given the fact that your hearing loss may still change in the future.
Pros and Cons of Behind the Ear Hearing Aids
There are several advantages to choosing a behind the ear hearing aid to help amplify sounds and decrease background noise around you.
The modern versions of the BTE hearing aid means that the smaller, streamlined size makes them harder for others to notice, compared to older BTE hearing aid styles. The BTE hearing aids are re-programmable, meaning that they can be adjusted as needed, to accommodate changing hearing loss needs.
There are a few additional points about behind the ear hearing aids that seniors should take into consideration. The behind the ear hearing aids sometimes pick up wind sounds, which some seniors may not like very much. Remember, however, that the BTE hearing aid is suitable for individuals with mild to severe hearing loss, making it the best choice for many seniors. Another consideration is the fact that if you choose an older behind the ear hearing aid, you potentially get one of the larger styles. Ask your hearing aid specialist about the smaller styles of BTE hearing aids, if the smaller, more-streamlined behind the ear hearing aids better appeals to you.
When seniors consider the ideal hearing aid, the behind the ear hearing aid is often the first choice for a variety of reasons.
BTE Hearing Aid Costs
Cost is likely a major factor for many seniors or others in need of a hearing aid. Medicare and most other insurance do not cover any portion of a hearing aid exam or the cost of hearing aids.
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) delivered a letter to the President in 2015 citing the high cost of hearing aids as a major obstacle for many people. Although the PCAST members provided a list of recommendations to help lower some hearing aid-related costs, the fact is that the cost is still very high for some seniors.
The cost of any hearing aid, including BTE hearing aids, is a primary reason that you should have a comprehensive hearing exam from a hearing specialist, and a professional fitting.
The behind the ear hearing aid is typically the least expensive kind of hearing aid available today. It is also the least expensive over the lifetime of the hearing aid because it usually requires fewer repairs than other types of hearing aids.
Try the BTE hearing aid before you buy. Ask about a warranty, sale price, or any other information that you want to know about your behind the ear hearing aid.