Data collected by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) shows that by age 65, one in three seniors experience hearing loss. By age 75, that number increases to one in two and by 85, it’s 80% of individuals. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to catch hearing loss in seniors. Many choose not to seek care for their hearing loss due to social factors, even though they have significant hearing loss.
Hearing loss is one of the leading contributors to loneliness and isolation within senior communities. As hearing loss negatively impacts a senior’s ability to communicate with others effectively, seniors may isolate themselves or begin to feel disconnected from others around them. In a senior living community, this can mean that many seniors are suffering from a reduced quality of life without the interventions they need.
To combat the ”silent” epidemic of hearing loss and better serve all residents, senior living community leaders can implement hearing assistance technology within their communities. However, it can be challenging to know which hearing assistance solution is right for your senior community. This guide will break down the strengths and weaknesses of the top hearing assistance alternatives on the market. Let’s dive in.
Hearing loop systems
Also referred to as audio induction loops, hearing loop systems are designed to be used with hearing aids that feature a Telecoil (T-coil) setting. Hearing loops create a magnetic signal that can be picked up by hearing aids tuned to their T-coil setting. Hearing loop systems consist of microphones, amplifiers, and loop cables.
Hearing loop systems are commonly used in public settings. In offices or shops, for example, individuals are informed of a hearing loop system via signage reception or checkout desks. Those with T-coil-enabled hearing aids need only manually shift their hearing aid to this setting to tune into the system. When a service worker speaks, the microphone picks up the sound, the amplifier processes the signal created by the sound, and the loop cable radiates the magnetic signal directly to the hearing aid. In senior living communities, these hearing loop systems are often installed in a community’s large activity room.
Advantages to hearing loop systems
- Hearing loop systems work with many types of hearing aids and are designed to target those with treated hearing loss.
- Hearing loops are for use with larger audiences and specifically outfitted rooms.
- Hearing loops improve sound quality and reduce background noise.
Disadvantages to hearing loop systems
- Hearing loop systems are limited by the area inside of the installed hearing loop.
- Hearing loop systems only work with T-coil-equipped hearing aids, so they are not compatible with all hearing aids that residents may have.
- Research shows that fewer than 15%
of the individuals over the age of 85 who could benefit from hearing aids use them. Therefore hearing loop systems will only serve a portion of your residents and are not an efficient and effective solution.
- The cost for equipment and installation of a hearing loop system is high.
- These systems are fixed to specific rooms, so they are not presently a portable solution to be used throughout your community.
Infrared hearing assistance systems
An infrared system is a unique and innovative hearing assistance solution. This technology relies on the transformation of sound into light waves as a means to transmit sound to receivers. The receiver then transforms the light waves back into sound, which can be played through a set of headphones as well as picked up by T-coil-equipped hearing aids and other hearing assistance devices such as cochlear implants if used together with neck loops.
Infrared systems are typically used in houses of worship, courtrooms, conference facilities, and theaters paired with fixed microphones or other audio inputs. The system enables individuals to adjust the volume settings to their preferences without adjusting them to harmful levels or disrupting others around them.
Advantages to infrared systems
- Infrared transmitters can be worn on the body or on a neck loop to reduce the chances of standing out among the crowd, and any headphones can be plugged in.
- Infrared systems are commonly used, so they are accessible in many public spaces.
- These systems offer privacy as the transmitted sound cannot travel past the room where the transmitter is located.
Disadvantages to infrared systems
- Infrared systems cannot be used outdoors during the daytime because there is generally too much light that causes interference.
- These systems are limited to the room they are being used in as the infrared light waves can’t travel through walls, people, or objects. These are line-of-sight-based systems, so if someone is standing between the transmitter and the individual(s) with the receiver, the sound will be interrupted.
Eversound wireless headphone system based on DECT
Eversound is a wireless headphone/listening hearing assistance solution based on DECT technology that works to transmit and amplify sound from a microphone and/or other audio source to one or many headphones simultaneously.
Eversound leverages DECT technology to provide a seamless and powerful user experience. Operating under the North American DECT 6.0 standard, that was introduced in 2005, the Eversound listening systems use a small portable transmitter that connects to an audio source and/or a microphone to transmit sound to up to 120 headphones simultaneously. Headphones that are paired to the transmitter can be as much as to 300 feet away from the transmitter and be used indoors or outdoors. In a senior community setting, it can be used to engage with residents during one-on-one interactions or in group settings of any size, such as a planned activity.
Eversound listening system is a customizable solution that enables wearers to adjust the volume of their headphones according to their personal hearing needs and is also compatible with all types of hearing aids. Its ability to connect with microphones means that it can be configured to support two-way communication between individuals or a group. With its portability and flexibility, Eversound’s DECT-based systems offer a complete hearing assistance solution.
Advantages to Eversound
- Eversound is an easy-to-use, portable and private hearing assistance solution, usable both indoors and outdoors.
- The system is ADA compliant and meets all ADA requirements.
- Eversound doesn’t require hearing aids to function but is hearing aid compatible so that anyone can benefit.
- The system can be used across different rooms and spaces because the encrypted wireless signal can penetrate walls.
- Eversound can be used with a microphone to overcome communication barriers by enhancing and transmitting voice via a microphone. So, if someone is wearing a mask, Eversound can be used to reduce the distortion that the mask may cause.
- The system is based on strong 64-bit encryption for privacy, so only designated Eversound headphones will “hear” the transmitted microphone audio so there can be no eavesdropping by others.
Disadvantages to Eversound
- Eversound is only available for senior living communities. So, families and individuals seeking the benefits of a hearing assistance and communication device outside of senior living uses must look elsewhere.
Need help choosing which hearing assistance solution?
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