COVID-19 Update: With social distancing and stay-at-home orders, many seniors are struggling with loneliness and isolation. We’ve developed a list of products that caregivers or seniors can purchase to help older adults stay happy, healthy and connected, whether they are aging in place at home or in an assisted living community.

Finding the right hearing aid is important, and with dozens of manufacturers each making several products with different features and sensitivity settings, it can be overwhelming for people experiencing any degree of hearing loss. For those who have profound hearing loss, however, whether through an accident or just a general decline in their ability to hear, selecting a hearing aid that addresses these needs, while still creating an experience that mimics natural hearing, can be challenging.

Some degree of hearing loss is common, affecting about a quarter of people in America. Over 2 million people in the country, however, have profound hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Profound hearing loss is based on the quietest sound you can hear.  If the quietest sound you can hear with your better ear ranges between 60 and 80 decibels, then you are considered to have profound hearing loss. However, for many doctors and insurance companies in the U.S., the standards are stricter, so someone who cannot hear a sound below 90 decibels with their good ear is considered to have profound hearing loss.

Hearing aids are expensive, and may not be fully covered by insurance, if at all. Finding the right hearing aid for profound hearing loss by trial and error, therefore, may not be feasible for many. We’re covering the four best hearing aids for profound hearing loss, including extra features and a company overview.

The Four Best Hearing Aids For Profound Hearing Loss  

Signia: Best for High-End Design

Signia is one of the largest hearing device manufacturers in the world and is a division of the hearing technology giant Sivantos. Focusing on using leading-edge technology to improve the clarity and features, Signia has become one of the top three hearing aid makers in the world. With a family of products created to address a range of hearing loss, from mild to profound, Signia users have options as their needs change.

The Nx line is specifically made for those affected by profound hearing loss. It works with a network of authorized fitters and audiologists to give each user a custom fit. Plus, the company also has an app, TeleCare 3.0, which can be used to make adjustments or troubleshoot problems with the devices. Both the Pure Nx and the Insio Nx lines of products are appropriate for users with profound hearing loss. The Pure models use Signia Xperience, technology that improves the user’s ability to detect sound directionally and motion sensors to allow users to adapt between changing sound environments.

The hearing aids are crafted from sleek metal and come in a variety of colors. Other features can include a rechargeable battery and wind reduction. Many Nx mods are also Bluetooth-enabled, allowing users to stream audio from different devices and to use the hearing aid in the car.

Phonak: Best for Group and Classroom Conversations

Phonak was founded in Switzerland and is part of the hearing industry giant, Sonova. The Phonak line of hearing aids is manufactured by German hearing aid engineering firm, Hansaton, and uses technology employed by smart devices to improve the features and responsiveness of its hearing aids. The company offers seven different product lines and custom fits, to improve the personalization of each user’s specific needs.

Where Phonak shines is in its features that address the challenges of using hearing aids in crowded settings, in places like a classroom, and for distance use. The Audéo Marvel, Phonak’s base model for users with profound hearing loss, offers Bluetooth-enabled connectivity and long battery life. It integrates the company’s Binaural VoiceStream technology which gives unparalleled sound quality. The next step up, the Audéo Paradise, is an enhanced version of the Marvel. It uses a proprietary operating system, the AutoSense 4.0, which utilizes AI technology to automatically adjust to different environments, and “learn” from the user. Wearers can also manually adjust the hearing aid setting using a tap feature similar to that of AirPods.

Widex: Best for Artificial Intelligence Features

Widex provides some of the most customized hearing aid solutions for users, coupling industry-leading technology with AI learning features and comprehensive support from in-person audiologist consultation and a telehealth app for users to adjust their device or solve problems at home.

The Widex Evoke Fusion is a small, inner-ear canal fitted device created for users of all stages of hearing loss, including profound hearing loss. These devices all come with SoundSense, the machine learning software of all Widex products. This technology adapts to the wearer’s environment and adjusts the sensitivity, volume, and clarity accordingly. The devices have ten programmable channels, and users can easily change from one setting to the next. Some models also offer wind resistance features and speech enhancers.

ReSound: Best for Telehealth Integration

ReSound embraces personalization through partnering with trained audiologists that use the company’s app, ReSound Smart Fit, which includes responsive customer support and consultation with audiologists to help improve the customization of fit and change the setting or guide users to new products as their needs change. ReSound uses cutting-edge cell phone technology to add clarity and improve the overall user experience.

All ReSound devices may be used by people with profound hearing loss, although many users may prefer the ReSound ONE device, as it employs a third microphone. This is a unique feature among hearing aid devices, and both make the sound clearer, it also allows the wearer to better determine where sounds are coming from. This may be very useful for users in group homes or who are often in crowded settings. It also increases the wearer’s ability to stay safe while outdoors, as the extra microphone can help detect sounds from a distance.

How Do Hearing Aids Designed For Profound Hearing Loss Help Users Best?

The clear answer is that hearing aids for those with profound hearing loss can help increase their level of independence, important for seniors living alone, as they can hear the sound of a fire alarm, intruder, or even carbon monoxide detector better, thereby making it safer to age in place in their home.  

Users with profound hearing loss can also benefit from sensitive hearing aid technology that allows them to move from one type of hearing environment to the next while still being able to detect sounds from different locations and participate in conversations even in loud places. This gives wearers more freedom and, with Bluetooth connectivity from many devices, the ability to stream audio without taking out their hearing aids.

How To Select the Right Hearing Aid For Profound Hearing Loss

Every user’s hearing profile is different, and each person has different needs. A visit to a trained audiologist is a good first step, to determine how sensitive the hearing aid needs to be. Then, taking a look at your daily environment helps. Are you outside often, and need hearing aids for distance, or to be able to tell where a sound is coming from? Or, are you often in a communal environment, such as an assisted living facility, in which you may need to be able to discern sounds in a loud or crowded environment?

Users living alone may find that Bluetooth connections allow them to enjoy their favorite programs or more easily make phone calls. Price is also often a consideration for hearing aid users, so check with your insurance company or supplemental Medicaid provider to see which brands, if any, of hearing aids are covered.