Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions among seniors. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 30 million people over the age of 60 have some form of hearing loss. Among this group, nearly two million suffer from severe or profound hearing loss, a variety of the condition that makes it difficult to partake in everyday activities like conversing or listening to the radio.
Luckily, there are special types of hearing aids designed to accommodate people with severe or profound hearing loss. In this rundown, we’ll take a look at some of the best options available.
What Is Severe Hearing Loss?
Not all hearing losses are created equally. Similar to vision impairment, there are different degrees of loss that require different prescriptions. This is something you should keep in mind when looking to purchase a hearing aid, as different devices are made to accommodate different degrees of hearing loss. Most hearing aids are suitable for those with mild to severe hearing loss; however, only certain devices can accommodate the needs of someone with severe to profound hearing loss.
Here is an overview of the different types of hearing loss.
Degrees of Hearing Loss
Type of Hearing Loss
Common Sounds You Might Miss
0 – 25 dB
Imperceptible symptoms, if any
A leaky faucet
Mild Hearing Loss
25 – 40 dB
Difficulty hearing quiet conversations
A ticking clock
Moderate Hearing Loss
40 – 60 dB
Difficulty understanding speech at normal volumes
Higher volumes required to hear the TV or radio
Severe Hearing Loss
60 – 80 dB
Cannot hear normal speech without amplification
A toilet flushing
Severe-Profound Hearing Loss
80 – 90 dB
Comprehension of speech is impossible without technological assistance
A food blender
A baby crying
Profound Hearing Loss
90 dB and greater
Comprehension still difficult with amplified speech devices
What Causes Severe Hearing Loss?
For most people, hearing loss is caused by a combination of noise exposure, genetics, and age. Naturally, this is why the condition is much more common in older adults; however, there are also several external factors that can contribute to hearing loss:
Noise Exposure: While aging naturally brings about wear and tear on the nerve cells inside of our ears, exposure to loud noises can accelerate this process. Individuals with long-term noise exposure, often factory and construction workers, are likely to have hearing loss. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to stay away from loud noises or wear earplugs when such noises can’t be avoided.
History of Ear Infection: Any history of recurrent growths, infections, or eardrum ruptures can potentially lead to permanent hearing loss.
Once these sensitive parts of your ear are damaged, there is often no way to repair them, so it’s important to take care of your ears. With that said, a quality hearing aid can go a long way towards restoring one’s ability to hear, especially for those with severe to profound hearing loss.
What To Look For in a Hearing Aid for Severe Hearing Loss
I had my work cut out for me when it came to reviewing these hearing aids. There are so many more good options for those with severe to profound hearing loss than there were in the past.
I have fit many patients with profound hearing loss. One thing to keep in mind is that if you have been wearing one brand of hearing aids for many years, it may be difficult to switch to another brand because your brain is already used to the sound quality and sound processing of a particular brand. You know what’s best and what works for you. If you’re in the market for new power hearing aids, here are the qualities that I looked for to consider:
Sound Quality: It goes without saying that a hearing aid should produce sounds audibly and clearly. Different hearing aids have different sound qualities, and some of what makes them work for you is individual preference.
Adjustable Settings: While almost any hearing aid can perform well in a quiet room with only one person talking, it’s a whole different task for a hearing aid to pick up speech in a room filled with noise. With this in mind, I looked for hearing aids with directional microphones and noise cancellation features that help you focus on the sounds you want to hear while tuning out the ones you don’t.
Accessories: People with severe to profound hearing loss often need additional accessories to maximize their communication. The availability and compatibility of accessories can make a big difference in quality of life.
Phonak has been a leader in power hearing aids for many years, often starting as a choice for pediatric patients with profound hearing loss. Even more impressive is its array of accessories that are compatible with hearing aids for those with severe to profound hearing loss.
Our Favorite Model: Phonak’s Naída Marvel delivers rich sound to those with moderate to profound hearing loss. Additionally, with the myPhonak app, you can control your hearing aids from your smartphone, and even stream audio from your phone to your hearing aids.
Accessories: Naida Marvel hearing aids are compatible with Roger accessories. Roger products are accessories that allow you to participate more easily in multiple talker conversations. There are three styles of Roger available. The Roger Pen can be held by the listener and be discreetly pointed at whichever person is speaking, allowing you to control and quickly switch focus between speakers. The Roger Select and Roger Table Mic II are disc-shaped mics designed to sit in the middle of a table and facilitate participation in group conversations. The mic itself chooses which speaker to focus on and automatically switches the direction of focus when the speaker changes, meaning that you can get the benefit of multi-talker conversation, hands-free.
Cost: Phonak hearing aids must be purchased from a hearing care specialist, so the price will vary depending on which one you visit. With that said, a pair Naída Marvel will likely run you around $3,000 per pair for entry-level technology and $6,000 for high-end technology.
Batteries: The Naída Marvel uses traditional batteries that will likely need to be replaced every seven to 10 days.
Support: You can chat with a Phonak hearing expert by calling the number listed on their website. You can also find hearing exercises on the site to help you learn the ins and outs of your device.
Returns and Warranties: Phonak offers a one- to three-year limited warranty on all of its devices. Most retailers also offer a 45-day trial period for your device. It’s best to confirm your exact warranty and trial period prior to purchase.
Official Hearing Aid of the VA
1-Year International Warranty
Advanced Noise Cancellation
Must Be Purchased from a Hearing Specialist
Ideal For: Phonak hearing aids are ideal for people with severe to profound hearing loss who still live active lifestyles, especially those who would benefit from Roger accessories in the workplace. These hearing aids can augment your hearing in nearly any setting, from the office, to restaurants, or to your living room. If you think you might be a cochlear implant candidate in the future, Phonak is also a good choice, because the hearing aid and accessories can be used with an Advanced Bionics cochlear implant.
Oticon suited for people of all ages and for all types of hearing loss, from mild to severe. What impressed us most about Oticon, however, was the great sound quality and feedback (whistling) management in their power hearing aids.
Our Favorite Model: Oticon bills its Xceed device as the world’s most powerful hearing aid, and it’s plain to see why. The Xceed sound processing focuses on allowing you to hear all of the noises around you for a true-to-life hearing experience. With its proprietary OpenSound Optimizer, the Xceed also prevents whistling and static, allowing you to focus on the sounds that matter most to you, whether this is a conversation with loved ones or a song on the radio.
Cost: The cost for Oticon’s Xceed will vary based upon the retailer; however, a pair will likely cost you somewhere between $3,000 and $6,000.
Batteries: The Xceed uses traditional batteries.
Support: You can use the “find a provider” tool on the Oticon website to find a list of hearing healthcare providers nationwide where you can get an assessment and fitting by a trained hearing professional.
Returns and Warranties: With any of its devices, most providers offer a 30- to 45-day risk-free trial, during which time you can return your device for a full refund. There are also different yearlong warranties available, depending upon which device you choose and the retailer from which you purchase it.
Great Sound Quality
Stellar Noise Cancellation
Discreet Behind-the-Ear Design
Somewhat High Price Tag
Must Be Purchased Through a Hearing Professional
Ideal For: The Oticon Xceed is great for any person with severe to profound hearing loss. Additionally, for the more plugged-in users, the Xceed can be paired with iPhones without any additional accessories and can be paired to any smartphone for hands-free streaming and talking.
ReSound hearing aids are centered around the idea of replicating natural sounds for their users. For those with mild to profound hearing loss, they offer expertly designed behind-the-ear models that amplify into whatever audible range you need. Resound was the first company to offer direct from iPhone streaming in its hearing aids, and it excels at this.
Our Favorite Model: ReSound’s most advanced model, the Enzo 3D is made specifically for those with severe to profound hearing loss. This hearing aid provides direct from iPhone streaming, which can be a lifesaver for patients struggling with hearing on the phone. The Enzo 3D will also have great background noise reduction so that you can focus on what matters most.
Cost: There are several different iterations of ReSound’s Enzo 3D, all of which come at different price points. With that said, you should expect to pay a minimum of $3,000 for a pair of these hearing aids.
Batteries: The Enzo Q uses standard-sized disposable batteries.
Support: ReSound offers a free online hearing test, in addition to user guides both via articles and videos. On the Resound app, in addition to being able to adjust your hearing aids, you can book an appointment with your provider, or find tutorials and cleaning and care videos and instructions.
Returns and Warranties: While warranties and returns will vary depending upon the retailer, all ReSound products can be tried before they are purchased. Additionally, all ReSound hearing aids will be covered under a warranty of one to four years, depending upon the specific model.
Natural Sound Replication
Adjust Settings through ReSound App
Find My Hearing Aid Feature
Compatible with Cochlear Implants
Online Video Tutorials
Must Be Purchased through a Hearing Professional
Ideal For: ReSound hearing aids are ideal for iPhone users, individuals who already have or may get a Med-El Cochlear implant, and for those who have tried other solutions for severe to profound hearing loss and have been dissatisfied by the audio quality of said hearing aids. ReSound hearing aids offer great streaming connectivity and natural sound quality.
#4 - Best Budget Hearing Aid
Available at Costco
Twin Microphone Design
Dedicated Customer Support Service Line
Philips offers a variety of hearing aids, from tiny in-ear units to traditional behind-the-ear devices. All of them are powered by Philips HearLink technology, which allows you to hear well even in noisy environments, something many hearing aids struggle to accomplish. Philips hearing aids are made by Demant, the same parent company that makes Oticon aids. Although Oticon’s aids feature newer features, Philips offers a more budget-friendly option.
Our Favorite Model: For those with severe to profound hearing loss, the Philips BTE PP offers stellar audio quality in a simple behind-the-ear design. Using directional microphones, this hearing aid delivers clean audio of speech, even in environments with lots of background noise. It can also connect wirelessly to phones and other smart devices.
Cost: The Philips BTE PP is available at Costco, in addition to other hearing specialist centers. At Costco, you’ll spend about $2,400 for a high-end pair of these hearing aids.
Batteries: The Philips BTE PP uses traditional, disposable batteries.
Support: Philips offers a hearing aid service line that can provide information regarding the use and maintenance of your hearing aids. If you purchase your hearing aids at Costco, you can be reasonably certain you will find a location to get in-person support if you travel to any major city in the U.S.
Returns and Warranties: Warranties and returns will vary depending upon the retailer. At 180 days, Costco has one of the most generous return policies in the industry.
Easy to Use
Available at Costco
Compatible with iPhones
Excellent in Noisy Environments
Wide Range of Designs
Limited Warranty Information
Ideal For: Philips hearing aids would be ideal for the user looking for a simple model. Their BTE PP model delivers solid audio performance in an easy-to-use package.
For those with severe to profound hearing loss, a hearing aid is one of the most essential ways to continue living life to the fullest. When looking into a hearing aid, be sure to weigh your options carefully, as high-powered devices like these do not come cheaply. Luckily, most retailers will offer some sort of trial period, ensuring that you’ll be able to find the right hearing aid for your needs.
Amie has been writing about senior care products and services for the last decade. She is particularly passionate about new technologies that help improve the quality of life for seniors and their families. Seeing her parents and grandparents age made Amie ask herself, “Would this be good enough for my loved ones?” In her spare time, Amie enjoys outdoor adventures and spontaneous road trips. Learn more about Amie here