The numbers don’t lie: at some point in your life, you’re probably going to need a hearing aid. Research indicates that about a quarter of all people between the ages of 60 and 75 have some form of hearing loss, and that number jumps up to 50% for people 75 and older. The best way to combat age-related hearing loss is to wear a hearing aid, but how do you know which type is best for you?
Advances in technology over the years have fixed some of the problems traditionally associated with hearing aids, such as too much background noise and susceptibility to water damage. But there’s still a lot you need to know when choosing a hearing aid to make sure it fits your lifestyle.
Your hearing aid should be good at directions
One critical feature of hearing aids is directionality, which is the ability for your hearing aid to focus on the specific noise around you (like a conversation) while keeping background noise to a minimum. Many hearing aids have different directionality systems, which either focus on the noise right in front of you, the speech that’s coming from different speakers, or a combination of those two. Most modern hearing aids offer directionality, but they need to be fit properly to make sure the directional microphones are optimally placed and your hearing professional can help you choose one that fits well.
Hearing aids need to pass the phone test
As a nation, we’re addicted to our phones. Even if you don’t have a smartphone, chances are you have an old-style cell phone. And on the off-chance that you don’t have any kind of cell phone, you probably still have a landline. So, when you’re trying out different hearing aids, you will want to see how they work with your phone. How does it sound? Are you able to discern voices clearly? Does it feel comfortable? Are there any Bluetooth connectivity options available? These are all the things you should take into account when looking at new hearing aids. Also consider if there are other devices you’d like them to sync to….like your television.
Looks aren’t everything…but they still kind of matter
As noted above, hearing aid technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past few years. One of those advances has been the size and shape of hearing aids, which have trended in the smaller and more comfortable direction. However, there are always going to be some trade-offs. A smaller hearing aid may not be as powerful as a larger one, so it really depends on the results of your hearing test and what you need to achieve with your hearing aid. You can get a hearing aid that fits directly in your ear canal and is all but invisible, but it won’t have many of the features available in larger hearing aids and will be prone to earwax issues. On the other end of the spectrum, a behind-the-ear hearing aid is larger and may be more noticeable, but often come with more directionality features and provide more options for sound amplification.
All we are is dust in the wind…which isn’t great for hearing aids
One of the biggest issues since the advent of hearing aid technology has been wind noise and the havoc it wreaks on wearers. Being outside on a windy day with a traditional hearing aid used to mean that you couldn’t hear anything except the wind, which is enough to drive anyone crazy. If you’re an outdoors person or you live in Chicago (“The Windy City,” get it?), you’ll want to find a hearing aid that suppresses wind noise so you can carry on conversations at a normal volume and avoid the headaches that are associated with hearing aid wind noises.