Keep Your Brain Sharp With the Best Hearing Aids

Key Points

  • Hearing loss contributes to cognitive decline, isolation, and injuries.

  • The best hearing aids help you hear better and discriminate speech in various settings.

  • There are many forms of hearing aids to suit the comfort of every user.

  • Modern hearing aids incorporate programmable chips, Bluetooth, and rechargeable batteries.

Losing your hearing means you miss conversations, performances, and activities. Plus, it puts your health and brain functioning at risk. The best hearing aids let you rejoin the life you enjoy and stay healthy in your senior years.

Hearing aid technology has come a long way. The best hearing aids have high-tech features like programmable chips, Bluetooth, and rechargeable batteries. Choose the features you need so you enjoy hearing the things you care about.

What Are Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are small electronic devices that amplify sound for people with hearing loss. They capture sound through a microphone, process it through a digital signal processor, and then amplify it before sending it to the ear through a speaker or receiver.

For people with hearing loss, hearing aids improve the ability to communicate, socialize, and engage in activities.

Why Should You Wear Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids provide many benefits for people with hearing loss, but surprisingly few people take advantage. Among adults 70 and older who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three have ever used them. Prospective wearers cite various reasons: hearing aids are uncomfortable, you have difficulty inserting them, or they are too costly. 

Unfortunately, the personal cost of not wearing hearing aids is high, and you miss out on social, cognitive, and health benefits. Consider why it’s worth wearing hearing aids if you have hearing loss.

Improved Communication

Are you tired of saying, “What did you say?” Hearing aids amplify sounds and speech, so it’s easier for you to communicate with others.

If you need hearing aids but don’t wear them, your speech discrimination suffers. When you don’t hear sounds, the auditory nerve in your brain doesn’t get enough stimulation. Without stimulation, the nerve stops working, leading to less activity in the brain’s auditory complex.

Think of hearing as an exercise for your brain. Your ears need to hear and recognize sounds to function at their best. Without treatment, you may be able to hear speech but you can’t understand or recognize it because your auditory nerve isn’t working well. 

The longer you wait to get hearing aids (or to wear them), the less stimulation your brain and hearing nerves get, and the worse you become at recognizing speech. Once your nerve is affected, you can’t reverse the damage. 

Enhanced Quality of Life

Hearing aids improve your quality of life if you have reduced hearing. By improving communication, hearing aids help you participate in social activities and enjoy hobbies you may otherwise avoid because of your hearing impairment. Hearing helps you maintain relationships with friends and family, participate in team and community activities, and fully experience life events. 

Increased Safety

If you are hard of hearing, you're more likely to suffer a fall or accident-related death. Even mild hearing loss triples your risk of an accidental fall, and the risk increases with more significant impairment. 

These factors can make you more likely to lose your balance and fall when you have hearing loss:

  • Hearing loss makes you less aware of your environment, so you don’t notice other people, pets, or activities around you. 

  • Hearing loss decreases your spatial awareness — being able to gauge where your body is in relation to objects around you. 

  • Hearing loss causes your brain to use more resources for hearing and interpreting speech and sound, so fewer resources go toward your gait or balance. 

In addition, hearing aids can ensure you detect essential sounds like alarms or approaching vehicles, which helps prevent accidents.

Reduced Cognitive Decline

The most frequently cited health fear among seniors is dementia, and untreated hearing loss is one of the top risk factors for developing dementia. 

Elderly man putting on hearing aids

Researchers are still exploring reasons for this connection, but they suspect several causes:

  • Hearing loss makes the brain work harder. You have to strain to hear and fill in the gaps, which comes at the expense of other thinking and memory systems. 

  • Hearing loss causes the aging brain to shrink more rapidly. 

  • You may not go out as much if you can't hear very well. Hearing loss makes people less socially engaged and causes them to miss out on intellectual stimulation. 

Wearing hearing aids helps individuals with hearing loss maintain their cognitive function and reduce their risk of developing dementia.

Professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Columbia, and otolaryngologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/CUMC and NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital Anil K. Lalwani, MD explains:

“Using a hearing aid may offer a simple, yet important, way to prevent or slow the development of dementia by keeping adults with hearing loss engaged in conversation and communication.”

Better Relationships

When you hear better and participate in conversations, it improves your relationships with your friends, family, and colleagues. You both experience fewer frustrations and misunderstandings. Better hearing means joining a broader range of activities with your favorite people.

What Are the Types of Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids come in a wide variety of forms. The style and size of hearing aid that’s right for you depends on your hearing loss, as well as your preferences and lifestyle. Your hearing aid options fall into one of these types:

  • Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aids fit behind your ear and connect to a custom earpiece inside your ear canal. They are the most common type of hearing aid and treat mild to severe hearing loss.

  • Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids are similar to BTE hearing aids, but the receiver is located in the earpiece rather than in the central unit behind the ear. RIC aids can provide a more natural sound and improved comfort.

  • In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are custom-made to fit inside the outer ear. They are larger than other hearing aids and treat mild to severe hearing loss.

  • In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are custom-made to fit inside the ear canal, making them less visible than other hearing aids. They are suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss.

  • Completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids are the smallest type and fit entirely inside the ear canal, making them virtually invisible. They are suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss.

  • Invisible-in-canal (IIC) hearing aids are smaller than CIC hearing aids and fit deep inside the ear canal. They are suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss.

  • Bone-anchored hearing systems (BAHS) are implantable devices that use bone conduction to transmit sound to the inner ear. They usually treat conductive hearing loss or single-sided deafness.

What Features Should You Look For in Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids have come a long way from simple sound amplifiers. Now these sophisticated electronic devices integrate features like programmable chips, Bluetooth connectivity, and rechargeable batteries into a package the size of a jelly bean. 

When you select hearing aids, consider your type of hearing loss, the environments where you will use them, and your lifestyle. A hearing healthcare professional can help you select a hearing aid that meets your needs and preferences.

Here are some key features to look for:

Sound Processing Technology

The sound processing technology in a hearing aid determines how it amplifies sound. Look for hearing aids with advanced signal processing technology, like digital noise reduction, feedback cancellation, and speech enhancement, to improve speech clarity and reduce background noise.

Directional Microphones

Directional microphones amplify sounds coming from the speaker's direction while reducing background noise. Look for hearing aids with advanced directional microphones, significantly improving speech clarity in noisy environments.

Telecoils

Some hearing aids incorporate telecoils for connecting to loop systems, commonly found in theaters, places of worship, and other public venues. Telecoils improve sound clarity in these environments, making hearing announcements and speeches easier.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Bluetooth connectivity lets you connect your hearing aids to devices like smartphones, TVs, and computers. Streaming music, phone calls, and other audio content directly to your hearing aids improves sound quality and makes it easier to hear.

Rechargeable Batteries

Hearing aids with rechargeable batteries are often more convenient and cost-effective than those with disposable batteries. Plus, they reduce waste and environmental impact.

Comfortable Fit

Select a hearing aid that is comfortable to wear for extended periods since you need to wear it all day to reap the benefits. Look for hearing aids with a comfortable, ergonomic design and customizable earpieces.

Size and Style

Hearing aids come in various sizes and styles, from behind-the-ear (BTE) to completely-in-canal (CIC). The size and style of the hearing aid you choose will depend on your preferences, the severity of your hearing loss, and your lifestyle.

The Best Hearing Aids of 2023

You have many options for hearing aids now, including a professionally fitted device from an audiologist or an over-the-counter product you can order yourself. Here are some of the best hearing aids of 2023:

TV Ears Digital Wireless Headset

TV Ears Digital Wireless Headset System is a lightweight, wireless headset that delivers clear television sound directly to your ears. Audiologists and doctors designed TV Ears to eliminate background sounds. You hear voices clearly over music, special effects, and other loud busts of sounds commonly found in television soundtracks.

TV Ears support all TVs, whether plasma or LCD. The TV Ears wireless headset weighs only two ounces and rests under your chin where it won’t mess up your hair or become hot or uncomfortable. Naturally angled replaceable foam ear tips fit comfortably inside your ear canal and direct the sound straight into your ear. 

Set up TV Ears in three easy steps with no wifi, apps, pairing, or Bluetooth headaches.

TV Ears Digital Wireless Headset

Photo source: Amazon.com

EarCentric EasyCharge Rechargeable Hearing Aids

EarCentric EasyCharge Rechargeable Hearing Aids are a BTE digital personal sound amplification device with noise cancellation. Its digital core optimizes human voices and includes smart noise reduction, which delivers sound loud and clear.

A U.S. manufacturer produces the lightweight casing using medical-grade materials, and one-hand operation adjusts the volume and settings for optimal hearing. 

EarCentric rechargeable hearing aids deliver 20 hours of hearing with one quick charge and arrive pre-assembled and ready to use. 

EarCentric EasyCharge Rechargeable Hearing AidsPhoto source: Amazon.com

Enjoyee Hearing Aids

Enjoyee Hearing Aids for seniors are nearly invisible, rechargeable hearing amplifiers with noise canceling. The upgraded smart chip reduces background noise by 30 percent, providing a natural and immersive listening experience. 

These safe and comfortable hearing aids feature a nano-coated, waterproof, and sweat-proof shell. Adjust left and right ears with three frequency modes and four volume levels to ensure clear sound in any environment. The five different dome sizes ensure a perfect fit for any ear canal. 

FCC and ROHS-certified Enjoyee Hearing Aids come with cleaning tools and are USB rechargeable. A full charge time of two to four hours provides 80 hours of battery life. Take these hearing aids with you anywhere in their convenient small carrying case. 

Enjoyee Hearing AidsPhoto source: Amazon.com

Crystal Clear Hearing Aids

Crystal Clear Hearing Aids are an amplifier with noise canceling for adults with hearing loss. They feature a transparent case made from crystal clear ABS to deliver a unique fashion statement.

Choose from four adjustable volume levels and enjoy noise cancellation from a built-in digital noise reduction chip, providing better clarity for television and conversations.

Crystal Clear Hearing Aids come with sterile medical silicone earplugs and skin-friendly material. The rechargeable batteries reach a full charge in two to three hours and deliver eight to ten hours of performance.

Crystal Clear Hearing AidsPhoto source: Amazon.com

Gopama Rechargeable Hearing Aids

Gopama rechargeable hearing aids use advanced technology to provide smarter sound processing and amplification with noise reduction. Simple one-button, fingertip operation adjusts the sound.

These miniature devices look like conventional earphones, which fit your ear canal securely and are comfortable to wear. 

The intelligent charging case with a power display can store 60 hours of standby power, enough to charge the hearing aids five to six times. Each charge supports 13 to 16 hours of continuous working time. 

Gopama hearing aids arrive with a charging case and instruction manual, five pairs of high-quality silicone ear tips in different sizes, a headset cleaning brush, and a charging cable. 

Gopama Rechargeable Hearing AidsPhoto source: Amazon.com

Help Your Hearing and Your Health

Now that you know how important hearing aids are when you live with hearing loss, don’t sacrifice the benefits they have to offer you. It’s worthwhile to keep your cognitive skills and your social life healthy.

Choose a hearing aid that fits your pattern of hearing loss and the activities you enjoy. Your quality of life, relationships, and brain will thank you.

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