This article aims to review the best hearing aids for dementia patients. Our objective is to explore the contributing factors to this condition and shed light on the associated issues. We will provide readers with comprehensive information and potential solutions by discussing key factors related to dementia, the abilities and challenges faced by individuals living with it, and guidelines for caregivers. A specific emphasis will be placed on highlighting the features that make a hearing aid a top choice for individuals with dementia. Additionally, we will conduct a comparative analysis of available hearing aids, including their advantages and disadvantages.

Aging is universal phenomenon that may have its consequences in the form of deteriorating physiological functions necessary for life. Regardless of its type aging i.e. chronological, biological, psychological and social, an increase in age may render a progressive decline in abilities that can be related to the audience groups.

Cognition is an innate ability with the help of which humans make sense to the world around. The elements of linguistic understanding, memory, socialization, reasoning and decision making etc. are some key attributes to cognition. Cognition in return demands a well-defined sensory system that serves as a relay between the person and environment. The relay system fades out with the progress in age and poses varied challenges to an individual’s life affecting his wellbeing, socialization and contribution within the society.

Although not a part of aging, similar symptoms including difficulties in memory, speech, language, understanding and disorientation are witnessed in Dementia. An increase in age however will contribute in developing dementia like symptoms and rising incidence is witnessed in geriatric patients. Adults having a moderate to severe degree of hearing loss have an increased likelihood of developing dementia five times more than any other of this age group (Lin et al., 2011). An adequate support after an earlier identification of dementia warrants a successful rehabilitationplan including communication, making relations, motor learning and creating environmental support, etc.

Among the many sensory losses that a person may suffer with aging is hearing. Presbycusis is an age related hearing loss which is gradual and hence remains unnoticed for many. Ranging from mild to severe degree of hearing loss, one in every three adults in their sixth decade may have an observable problem and need an amplification device. Research has established a link between hearing loss and dementia in categorical terms. According to Lin et al., 2013, cognitive abilities declined faster in older adults with hearing loss as compared to others with normal hearing. Hearing loss during recent times has emerged as a significant correlate of dementia that can be restricted by the use of hearing amplification devices.

Literature is also indicative of a relationship between hearing and cognition. The peripheral central impairment theory claims that an impaired cochlea may burden the cognition by demanding more input for auditory processing, influencing brain structure and reducing social engagement. Fratality related to geriatric population is described as a nonspecific state of vulnerability and a reduced physiological function. It may render a decreased resistance to stressful factors and is found a contributive factor in psychological, psychosocial and functional impairments. When combined with any degree of hearing loss, the vitality, response and rigor comes under serious threat that dents the quality of life of the sufferer. Age related tinnitus also contributes to challenge hearing that needs intervention to guard for progressive behavioral changes in socialization, communication and moods variability.

Dementia has become an agenda of public health priorities because of its irreversible nature and the mammoth burden on individuals and families. According to estimates, 29.3% and 63.1% of population in the age range of 60 and 70 years respectively are affected with varied degrees of hearing loss. On the positive side however, recent literature is indicative of a positive correlation in terms of cognitive improvement and socialization with hearing loss management.

According to Manchester University reports, “hearing aids can slow down dementia by 75%”. American Speech and language Association (ASHA) recommends hearing loss management as an ultimate treatment for dementia. Althoughthe solution is simpler and much reliable however, only 20 percent of the respective audience ends up for a formal assessment of a hearing loss. This phenomenon of not accessing specialized support may be linked to higher cost of hearing aids, associated stigmas and wrong perception about the efficacy of treatment itself.

It is of vital importance that the users must have information before investing in the hearing aids. The primary concernof a person with dementia includes auditory inattention, language processing and perception of distinct sounds, linking meaning to auditory inputs and listening in a back ground noise etc.

In physical limitationshowever, the person may be confronted with forgetfulness e.g. locating the hearing aid while now and then, replacing the batteries, using the digital and manual controls and equipment care etc.

Although hearing aid is a treatment of choice when it comes to hearing challenges for a person with dementia, there are some measures that ensure a successful hearing experience. While making an attempt to talk or communicate with a person having dementia, a gentle touch, calling upon attention and eye contact are some primary steps recommended as you communicate. Remember, dementia entails disorientation hence it is vital that the subject is oriented before we attempt to establish a verbal contact.

In response to your verbal input, the subject may take a while to process the information before any reaction is generated. As a caregiver one should remember that patience is the key. A bombardment of verbal directions might further confuse the subject thus adding to his peripheral load. Give them time and wait till you can find what he has processed. It is highly recommended to avoid jargons and extended phrases, keep it simpleand use the vocabulary that the person can hold on to. A support of this sort will help the person understand, relate and develop a positive self-image. Besides verbal cues the use of nonverbal clues e.g. gestures, eye contact, flash cards and symbols etc. may also have a contributing effect on understanding and developing a hearing dependence.

Some general recommendations include to ensure and keep your face illuminated, uncovered and in the visual range of the listener. Further, reducing distractions, building focus and an activity of interest may also help. Always ensure positivity and willingness to repeat, rephrase and reassure.

When it comes to selecting the best hearing aids for dementia, one has to look beyond traditional hearing aids which are amplification devices. The traditional aids required the wearer to manage batteries, volume controls, modifications in terms of the environments around and look for issues like humidity etc. All such requirements are difficult to manage for a dementia client leading to an unsuccessful hearing experience and objectivity.

The more traditional hearing aids have been modified to suit the needs of respective audience by offering budget friendly and technologically advanced models, equipped with long time power support, water resistance, background noise management, easier volume controls, tinnitus relief, remote support and cosmetology requirements etc. In line with the technology dependent life now a day, the hearing aids are equipped with blue tooth for wireless connectivity and control option, etc. for a remote access.

The hearing aid manufacturers have gone a step ahead by providing protection plans to offer security of investment to the users. Lets see what the best hearing aids for Dementia has to offer. This will enable you decide a better buy and enjoy a successful experince to tackle dementia challenges.

Now that we have established quality offerings of best possible hearing aids for managing communicational, psychological and social challenges for a person confronting Dementia, let’s take a glimpse of technologies available in the present day market. The list is exhaustive, however more common have been identified for a comparison in term of price range, offerings, and respective pros and cons. Certain types of such amplification devices are only dispensed through a formal procedure while some are available on the counter as well. A formal audiological assessment and consultation with an audiologist is encouraged, since it will reitterate compatability to one’s need. The objective is to help you make an informed decision while selecting one for yourself or your loved ones.

Hearing AidsPrice RangeProsCons
Jabra Enhance A pair of white hearing aidsDescription automatically generatedAvailable in 100 and 200 premium packages. Price range is $1695 and $1995 respectivelyLong battery life (30 hours per charge), has a low battery warning, 100-day money back guarantee 3-year warrantyOnly sold in pairs must have a compatible smartphone in order to use
MDHearingA close-up of a hearing aidDescription automatically generatedPrices ranges from $299.98 to $699.98 per pair Call: (0800)-422-9380Very minimal adjustments required, available in single or in pairs, doesn’t require an in-person appointment, can be used with glasses, 1–2-year warrantyNot good for severe to profound hearing loss
Eargo A pair of earphones with a white backgroundDescription automatically generated with medium confidencePrices range from $1450 to $2950 per pair. 1-2 year financing plan Call: (0855)-922-3431Has rechargeable models, On demand telecare support, Can be bought online without any prescriptionHas small size so there may be more noise potential Not suitable for severe to profound hearing loss
LexieA close-up of a hearing aidDescription automatically generatedLumen: $799 per pair Monthly subscription: $49 monthly for 24 months. Startup fee $149 Other two models have prices ranging from $849 to $999 and $47 to $49 per month Call: (799)-213-2931Large buttons Easier grip, Step by step instructions through videos, In person visit isn’t required, Real time video and voice supportBought only in pairs and Having a smartphone or tab is necessary
Otofonix A close-up of a hearing aidDescription automatically generatedApex model: $248 for one hearing aid Groove model: $1590 for pair Call: (704)-459-5880Very cheap with free shipping, Can be bought in single or in pair customer support, Has a low battery warning, No in person appointment required, 1- or 2-year protection plansSound tube and ear dome needs frequent cleaning Has only behind the ear models
PhonakA yellow object with a blue stringDescription automatically generatedSold through subscriptions only Call: (844)-957-044524/7 extended wear hearing aid, Inserted by a professional, Has no battery to be recharged, Invisible, Can be worn while sleeping and in shower, Has a wide range of sizesRequires a subscription and must be inserted and programmed by a Lyric provider Since it is a prescription-based it is more likely to be expensive
StarkeyA white hearing aid with a cordDescription automatically generatedThe pricing isn’t advertised online. Visit local Starkey retailer to know price ranges Call: (877)-644-9439Fall detection and alerts, Reminders through hearing aids Suitable for mild to profound hearing lossIn person visit is required prices aren’t provided online
SigniaA pair of black earbudsDescription automatically generatedPrices not available online. Prices vary with the model and location of purchase. Call: (833)-410-2154Contactless charging, Long battery life, Fitting is customized, Bluetooth connectivity with android and iOS devices,  suits all levels of hearing loss and AI via the Signia AssistantMust be purchased through an audiologist, No prices provided in website so hard to compare with other prices Does not have instant fit

The table above did not mention personal sound amplification devices (PSAPS), which are available over the counter and may serve as an ace option for many elderly; however such devices are yet not regulated by food and drug administration authorities. Further they do not account for sound distortions and manual maintenance at times is required which makes it difficult for a person with dementia to attend to.

Best Hearing Aids for Dementia Patients Conclusion

Aging is universal while the life styles and noise exposure may affect your hearing skills more than others. Now that hearing loss has been identified as a contributor to dementia, literature is also indicative of the forthcoming solution in the form of hearing loss management through amplification devices. The versatility in terms of shape, size, power support, remote access, A.I. and user friendliness remains key while selecting the best hearing aids for a client with dementia.

The advancement in technology and artificial intelligence is making it worthwhile to help persons with dementia and live an active, social and contributive life. The role of caregivers is of significance since they can create a motivating and ensuring experience for the dementia patients using hearing aids.

Use of a hearing aid amidst distractions and background with a disoriented mind require extreme skills which is only possible through a dedicated and planned effort by the caregivers and support staff. Research and innovation has to offer more with every passing day. For a better rehabilitation experience we encourage you to seek professional advice and explore the available options.

References:

Alzheimers.gov. (2022). Can I Prevent Dementia?

Hopkins Medicine. (2022). The Hidden Risks of Hearing Loss.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2021). Hearing Loss and the Dementia Connection.

Lin, F.R. Thrope, R., Gordon-Salant, S. & Ferrucci, L. Hearing Loss prevalence and risk factor among older adults in the United States. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 66, 582-590 (2011).

Lin, F.R. & Albert, M. Hearing Loss and dementia- who is listening? Aging Ment Health, 18, 671-673 (2013).

Mayo Clinic. (2022). Tinnitus.

Munawar Malik
Assistant Professor of Hearing & Speech | + posts

Munawar Is an Assistant Professor in one of the leading university in Pakistan. He holds a career of 31 years in the field of hearing, speech, language and special needs education as a clinician, consultant and a mentor. He has to his credit a series of articles and write ups in leading journals. More recently he has been on board with hearing people and contributing through his unique way of written expression.

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