Senior Health

7/19/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

While it’s normal for seniors to start to lose their hearing, many are stubborn about using hearing aids. Fortunately with advancements in technology, hearing aid trends are making them more approachable!


Age-related hearing loss is common among older adults. According to the Ear, Nose & Throat Journal, it occurs in 50 percent of seniors between the ages of 75 and 84 and increases to 95 percent by age 94. While this type of hearing loss cannot be cured or treated, hearing aids offer a viable solution.

Yet, many seniors who could benefit from a hearing aid are reluctant to use them. Their reasons for resisting them include:

  • Fear of looking old
  • Too complicated
  • Too expensive
  • Unrealistic expectations

However, most of these objections are based on the hearing aids of a generation ago and no longer make sense. Today’s hearing aids are a vast improvement over their predecessors and provide many life-changing benefits. Even the most basic digital hearing aid offers superior advantages over models in the past. There are now even some trendy hearing aids!

How does a hearing aid work?

Although hearing aid technology has improved over the years, it still comes down to four essential components: a microphone, processor, receiver, and power source. The microphone receives the sound from the environment and converts it into a digital signal. The processor amplifies the signal and sends it to the receiver and into the ear canal. The power source runs the entire system.  

New Hearing Aid Technology in 2021

The newest technologies and hearing aid trends have made digital hearing aids more automated with features that help older adults communicate in what were all but impossible situations in the past. While these hearing aid industry trends typically result in higher prices, they also provide some astounding benefits that include:

Bluetooth compatibility

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that allows the hearing aid to connect to other devices. Because the Bluetooth signal avoids the microphone and goes directly to the processor, the signal-to-noise ratio is diminished, and microphone feedback is eliminated.

Apps

Many of the advanced hearing market aid trends now feature smartphone apps. Different apps can have various features. For example, you might create and save a hearing program that works well in a specific environment. You can also adjust your hearing aid or check its status using the app. Some apps allow you to connect directly to streaming music, TV, and phone calls.

Tinnitus masking

Tinnitus, or ringing in your ears, often develops with age-related hearing loss. Some hi-tech hearing aids come with features to minimize it. An audiologist can program them to emit sounds that mask the annoying ringing.

Sound processing and frequency response

Hearing aids process sound, meaning the sound is sectioned into bands and digitized before it’s amplified. Sophisticated hearing aids offer more flexibility to band these sounds and strengthen them for your unique hearing loss. For instance, for someone with mostly high-frequency hearing loss, the hearing aid will amplify only those sounds within that band.

Artificial intelligence

Some top-of-the-line hearing aid trends feature artificial intelligence (AI), helping you to hear in some of the most challenging settings. These advanced devices utilize one type of AI, the deep neural network (DNN), to mimic the brain’s neural habits and respond to certain situations the same way your brain would. In other words, the DNN allows the hearing aid to mirror how your brain would hear sounds if your hearing were not impaired.  

Rechargeable batteries

Although disposable batteries are still the most common way to power a hearing aid, more and more manufacturers are producing rechargeable models. Rechargeable batteries can hold a charge for up to 30 hours and typically do not have to be replaced for five years. Rechargeable batteries tend to be easier to handle, making them preferable for seniors with dexterity issues.

Related: What Is Assistive Technology for Seniors?

How do these features translate into benefits?

Think about being in a busy restaurant or perhaps an airport terminal where extraneous sounds are coming at you from multiple directions. You’re having a conversation with your spouse or a friend while wearing your hi-tech hearing aids. As the other person speaks, your hearing aids reduce noises like clanking silverware, loudspeaker announcements, and the voices of others nearby. At the same time, it is amplifying your friend’s voice and storing data to be saved for fine-tuning later.

That is hearing aid technology in action!

The future of hearing aids promises cheaper options

An executive order signed by President Biden on July 9, 2021, included an initiative to “save Americans with hearing loss thousands of dollars by allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter at drug stores.”

Currently, the average cost of hearing aids is more than $5,000 per pair and are rarely covered by insurance. To compound the expense, most hearing aid companies require a professional hearing test, screening, fitting, and follow-up – important, no doubt, but adds to the expense and is unnecessary for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. This move will make hearing aids more easily accessible and widely available. 

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff