Hearing loss is an unfortunate fact of life for many people as they age. In fact, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, as many as one in three people aged between 65 – 74 suffers from hearing loss.
While it’s comforting to know you’re not alone, that doesn’t make hearing loss any less distressing. Hearing loss impacts every area of daily life, from having a conversation to hearing people in restaurants and shops, and listening to music or television.
That’s why for many seniors, a hearing aid is a good solution. A hearing aid helps you hear more clearly, restoring the fun to social situations and making it easier to follow that new TV series you can’t stop talking about.
Who Needs A Hearing Aid?
If hearing loss is affecting your quality of life, a hearing aid can make a big difference. Many people start to wonder if they need a hearing aid when they notice that it’s getting harder to hear others talking, especially in places with a lot of background noise, like a cafe. Some people might notice that they’re having to turn the TV up, or it’s difficult to keep a phone conversation going.
If you’re struggling to hear and it’s impacting your daily life, it might be time to consider a hearing aid. However, you don’t have to make the decision alone. Many hearing aid companies operate nationwide centers where you can get a hearing test and talk to a qualified hearing professional. You can also talk to your primary care physician.
How Do Hearing Aids Work?
Hearing aids work by amplifying sound. In most cases, this happens via a microphone that picks up sounds and then sends them to a processor which converts them into electronic data. Finally, the receiver sends the amplified sounds into the ear.
Modern hearing aids don’t just amplify sound indiscriminately. Many models have the ability to amplify only the sounds that the wearer needs amplified. For example, the hearing aid can amplify conversation or music, without amplifying the background sound. Hearing aids generally have different settings for different types of environment.
Why Buy A Professional Hearing Aid?
Some people choose to buy hearing aids over the counter – and that’s absolutely ok, especially for those with mild hearing loss or who already know exactly what they need. However, there are lots of advantages to buying professional hearing aids:
- You can visit a hearing center and be fully assessed.
- Professional audiologists can help you figure out what you need from your hearing aid, and suggest the best model for you.
- If you suffer from moderate to severe hearing loss, professional assessment and fitting is the best way to get the results you need.
- Most professional hearing aid manufacturers offer ongoing support after your purchase.
- And most professional manufacturers have a grace period so you can try your hearing aids and then return them if they don’t work the way you need them to.
What Types Of Hearing Aid Are There?
Hearing aids fall into two main categories:
- Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids, which consist of a casing that sits behind the ear and joins to the ear canal via a sound tube.
- In the ear (ITE) hearing aids that sit within the ear canal itself and thus are hard to see.
The kind that suits you best will depend on your needs, lifestyle, and level of hearing loss. ITE devices are often a good choice for those who feel self-conscious at the thought of wearing BTE devices and are looking for something a little more discreet. On the other hand, BTE styles are good for those that don’t relish the thought of putting something in their ear, and today’s styles are much sleeker and modern than the BTE models of old.
How Much Do Professional Hearing Aids Cost?
Hearing aids are a sizable investment. Expect to pay anywhere from $1000 up to $6000 per ear (most people need both.)
What Should I Ask Before Buying A Hearing Aid?
We recommend asking the following questions before buying a hearing aid:
- Does it come with a warranty and how long does it last?
- Do you have an evaluation period for me to try them out and return them no questions asked inside that time frame?
- What happens if I want to return my hearing aids outside the evaluation period?
- What happens if my hearing aids break?
- Do you offer any kind of financing or payment plan (be sure to read the T&Cs carefully before signing up to any kind of finance plan)?
- What kind of follow up support do you offer?
- Are the warranty and follow up support included in the price or is there a separate fee for those?
- How long does the battery last and how do I replace or charge it?
- How do I clean the hearing aids? Is there a professional cleaning service?
Top Professional Hearing Aids
Let’s take a closer look at three of the most popular professional hearing aid manufacturers. We’ve highlighted some of their top offerings to give you a flavor of what they do. However if you don’t see what you need here, do check them out to see their fuller range, and of course, most manufacturers add new models from time to time.
Widex places strong emphasis on hearing solutions that are perfect for the individual. Widex hearing aids are designed to make it easier to hear everything from a whisper to a shout, without any noise being over-amplified. Their hearing aids are also designed to be comfortable to wear, so they fit in with your lifestyle. Read the full Widex review here.
Hearing aids: The Widex Range includes Unique for hearing a wide range of sound, Beyond Fusion 2 which can stream sound from iPhones, and Evoke which is billed as the world’s first truly intelligent hearing aid. Most of the range is available in both BTE and ITE styles.
Notable models: Quite honestly, all of them! We love that Beyond Fusion 2 pairs effortlessly with iPhones for crystal clear streaming. We’re very impressed with Evoke’s ability to analyze each hearing situation (such as a concert or intimate family dinner) in order to create even better hearing experiences. And last but not least, we love that Unique offers a tiny behind-the-ear style that’s discreet and easy to wear.
Charging: Widex hearing aids come with a handy little charger that you simply put them in overnight so they’re ready to use again first thing in the morning. However, they’re also compatible with zinc-air batteries so you can keep a spare with you just in case they run out of charge.
Accessories: Widex offers a range of accessories to enhance TV or radio listening, or give you clearer streaming from your smartphone – your Widex professional can advise you on which accessories work best with each model.
Support: You’re welcome to book with a Widex professional any time at one of their nationwide hearing centers. They can help you find the right hearing aids for you and help with any follow up questions.
Anything else: We love the wide range of colors on some of the models! Widex have taken hearing aids from something with a little bit of a stigma to something funky, modern, and fashionable. Widex also offers an evaluation period so you can try them for yourself but return them easily if they don’t suit you.
Customers love: People love the sound quality of Widex! Reviews show that many customers enjoy truly crystal clear sound with Widex, and can distinguish sounds easily. It also seems that both their BTE and ITE models are comfy to wear.
Customers aren’t so keen on: We found a few reviews citing problems getting the iPhone app to work, and occasional reports of the equipment breaking down. However, for the most part, Widex seems to be well-liked.
Ideal for: Seniors who want something effective and powerful that doesn’t look like a typical hearing aid.
Our verdict: High quality and even personalized soundscaped paired with a sleek modern look – well worth checking out.
Phonak has a wide range of modern, powerful hearing aids that cover everything from mild to profound hearing loss. Their technology is outstanding – all their models are innovative in one way or another. Click here for the in-depth review of Phonak.
Hearing aids: Phonak offers both BTE and ITE aids. Their range includes a single-sided hearing aid to amplify your “good” ear and compensate for your “bad” ear, a tiny discreet in-ear model, a highly connective smartphone-friendly model and more.
Notable models: We couldn’t help noticing the Phonak Naída B, a power hearing aid designed for those with severe to profound hearing loss. The Naída B makes it easier to hear high pitched sounds, enhances speech, and helps wearers handle background noise both close by and at a distance. We’re also intrigued by Lyric, a tiny ITE model designed to be worn 24 hours a day, for several months at a time.
Charging: Phonak hearing aids are available in both rechargeable and traditional battery styles, depending on the exact model you choose.
Accessories: Phonak sells a range of pen, table, and clip-on microphones to further enhance your hearing aids’ performance, along with accessories to stream from your phone or even turn some hearing aid models into crisp quality earphones.
Support: Phonak has centers throughout the United States, and plenty of experts on hand via their site, too. We also love that Phonak offers a dedicated support app to help you learn about your new hearing aids.
Anything else: As well as the support app, the Phonak site has a special training section with exercises you can do to get the most out of your new hearing aids.
Customers love: Customers love that Phonak doesn’t just help them hear better, it also increases the range of sounds they can hear, even if their hearing loss is severe.
Customers aren’t so keen on: We noticed that a few people had difficulty with the chargers, and with keeping the hearing aids calibrated exactly as they like them.
Ideal for: Seniors who have moderate to profound hearing loss but still want a powerful, modern hearing aid (Phonak do have wonderful options for mild hearing loss too.)
Our verdict: An impressive range of hearing aids that covers all levels of hearing loss, even one-sided hearing loss.
If you’re looking for an impressive range of hearing aids, look no further! Signia has a great balance of BTE and ITE models on offer, and their range is built around natural sound, especially in conversation. Check out the full review of Signia here.
Hearing aids: Signia has many, many hearing aids on their site! From a little more budget-friendly to wireless rechargeable and iPhone connected, to tiny little ITE models and almost invisible BTE models.
Notable models: Signia offers so many innovative solutions. However, we couldn’t help noticing Cellion – a battery-free model that works for up to two days on one single charge. Simply pop Cellion in its charger and let the technology do the rest. Automatically switches on when it’s removed from the charger for streaming and listening for the next two days. And if it does get a little low on charge in that time? Put it back in the charger for 30 minutes and enjoy another seven hours of use. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Cellion also focuses on your conversational partner and picks out the sounds you want to hear, making conversation clearer, less stressful, and more natural than before.
Charging: Signia offers both traditional battery and rechargeable battery models.
Accessories: Signia’s accessory range is as good as their hearing aid range. From turning your aids into headphones, connecting direct to your smart TV, or making clear hands-free calls, Signia has you covered.
Support: Signia has nationwide centers so you can easily get the advice and support you need.
Anything else: Signia also has a range of apps that help you control your hearing aid, and even train yourself to get the most from it.
Customers love: The sound quality of Signia seems to have made a real impression with customers, and we also noticed plenty of customers citing very positive experiences with Signia staff.
Customers aren’t so keen on: A few wireless customers mentioned difficulty with the hearing aids cutting out.
Ideal for: Seniors who want a hearing aid that fits their hearing loss and lifestyle to a “t”.
Our verdict: Signia’s impressive range means that no matter what kind of hearing loss you have, or what hearing support you need, they’ve got you covered.
Bottom Line: Professional Hearing Aids
Buying a hearing aid is a big investment, and buying from a reputable manufacturer can help take some of the stress out of it. These three companies offer innovative solutions backed by a nationwide network of knowledgeable and caring hearing professionals.