I’m 73 and have been stone deaf in one ear since the age of seven due to a mastoid operation. I managed perfectly well like this until I approached 60 and the hearing began to deteriorate in my ‘working’ ear (old age, presumably). I then got an analogue hearing aid (shell), brand and model now forgotten. I have only had hearing aids from private providers.
In 2005 I changed to a digital Starkey Axent. This was excellent, except for the shell sometimes making my ear sore. A few years later, when I moved to Scotland, a local supplier made me a new shell, which was perfect, no doubt the luck of the draw because they said the size might need adjustment.
In 2012 my husband decided, probably correctly, that I needed a new hearing aid. the supplier said that I could have a shell-type aid, but I accepted their recommendation of the type that fits behind the ear.
This aid is Widex Clear Fusion 220 RIC. It has been very good, especially the ability to have telecoil (as they call it) and microphone working together. The former Starkey Axent aid could not provide this and, being deaf in one ear, I could hear only what came over the microphone when in ‘loop’ mode.
I have no clear preference for shell, or behind-the-ear aids, both having advantages and disadvantages (how could it be otherwise?) If the shell-type fits well and painlessly at least it’s out of the way. Wearing glasses, as I do, doesn’t preclude an aid behind the ear, but it can be a bit awkward. ON the other hand, the Widex is better on the phone than a shell-type.
The only definite disadvantage to me of the Widex is that it can’t be switched off while I’m wearing it (e.g. to lessen the noise of the Hoover, or aircraft overhead). I have to remove the aid and open the battery door to switch off, though my provider says some customers do manage to open the battery door whilst wearing the aid.
The Starkey Axent shell has an on/off switch as well as a volume control. Widex volume can only be changed by the provider linking all to his computer system. No doubt this is due to the advances in hearing aid technology, making for more sensitive and efficient aids, but having no control myself seems a disadvantage.
The Starkey Axent, now eight years old, may be quite obsolete and I may be wasting everyone’s time by writing about it! So, I’ll stop with the remark that all the aids I’ve had have been valuable to me for hearing conversation without strain. In a crowd it’s not so good, but many people with good hearing also have difficulty hearing in a social crowd.