My Mum who is 84 is suffering from hearing loss and has been struggling with her NHS hearing aid. She’s apparently been looking into private ones but the costs seem ludicrous to me at £2000-£4000 in some cases. I base my assertion on the fact that the Bose A30 aviation headset which is the finest aviation headset in the world is only around £1200 and is beautifully made, has superb quality loudspeakers in it, a superb noise cancelling microphone etc and offers stunning comfort. These hearing aids seem to consist of a £2 microphone in a cheap plastic case with a 50p speaker in them!
Basically if anyone can recommend which hearing aid they found to be the best and hopefully decent value that would be very helpful.
Modern hearing aids have advanced processors and complex signal processing in them and a lot of the money you are paying is for the cost of developing the concepts and then the firmware. Also they use custom made very low power chips. What you pay depends on the “technology level”. Often the components will be the same but the firmware is different.
What she will need to pay will depend on what her hearing is like, but if she wants just one then you should be able to get one for about £1000. But probably she should be using two, even if one ear is relatively unaffected, because two hearing aids can work together very effectively.
There are lots of top brands and frankly any of them will probably be fine if they are adjusted (“fitted” in the jargon of the industry) properly. And the ongoing relationship with an audiologist who can keep things working for her as her hearing declines, which it is likely to do as she gets older, is part of what you are paying for up front.
Anyway £3000 or even more for a pair is quite normal unfortunately.
Tread carefully. The modern digital NHS aid is usually a pretty decent device.
Make sure she has a reassessment (usually free and self arranged) in her local NHS audiology clinic to check her aids are suitable, clean, and working properly before doing anything expensive.
Definitely do that before checking private providers. Whilst many are good, and there are sophisticated aids out there some private providers basically charge a lot for a slightly more discrete or attractive aid. The complex private designs can also be confusing and fiddly to use. My Mum couldn’t manage them at all and reverted to her NHS aid, which, once serviced was perfectly fine.
Dearly beloved has NHS Phonak bluetooth rechargeable aids. She wasn’t getting on with them until the audiologist suggested changing the soft cones for moulds. She finds the moulds more comfortable, less likely to slip.
A friend paid £4500 for a pair of the same model, there were two “differences”, the choice of colours was wider and she has two chargers.
Part of the cost of my privately “prescribed” Phonak aids is the 3 monthly service (clean changes cones etc) and earwax vacuuming (removal). For 5 years.
So +1 for regular servicing
Really grateful for all the advice guys, I will do some more reading around the subject and also check what model the NHS has provided next time I am over with Mum. It would seem that the setup/audiology tuning is critical with any device, she says she did have a setup session with an audiologist but maybe a second one to fine tune things would help.
Another option would be to hire/trial one of the expensive options for a couple of weeks I guess if that is even possible to assess the difference.
Many thanks again,
NHS aids use a range of different suppliers. The Signia I’m using are excellent.
I think that you will find that it is totally possible to trial new hearing aids for free for a period of a couple of weeks, perhaps more. Your mum would be trialling them to see whether the money would be well spent. The supplier would need to carry out an audiogram test and then depending on exactly what sort of form factor of hearing aid she wants, either the mould would be made (or maybe a mould wouldn’t be necessary). They should take as much trouble over the trial as if they were definitely supplying them, because what they don’t want is to do a poor job and put the customer off!
Yes I had a good length of time trialling mine
I’m not sure but from memory Phonak release their new range of aids around end Q3 beginning Q4 approx every 3 years and it’s 3 years this year since the last upgrade
That’s all really good information guys and I’m most grateful to you all. Hearing loss is unfortunately a fact of life for many of us in old age but hopefully with the improvement in technology these devices are now incorporating I can make Mum’s life for enjoyable and the rest of us can look forward to continuing to enjoy our Naim systems for the long term.
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