Asking friends to repeat themselves, being lectured by a spouse to turn down the TV, even avoiding phone calls for fear of having to carry on a conversation—hearing loss can affect so many aspects of a senior’s life. And because Medicare doesn’t cover the high cost of hearing aids, older adults often spend their golden years frustrated, embarrassed and isolated.
Thankfully, affordable listening devices are available that allow seniors to enjoy the sounds of life again. For more than 30 years, Bellman & Symfon from Sweden has been dedicated to helping both deaf and hard-of-hearing people, and has developed digital listening devices that amplify sounds. With their available products, those with hearing loss can once again hold conversations, listen to the TV, and even understand the voice on the other end of a phone.
“Our listening devices are perfect for seniors who have hearing loss but just aren’t ready to make that commitment to hearing aids—or perhaps for those who tried hearing aids in the past and found them uncomfortable or ineffective,” said Caleb Hill with Bellman & Symfon. “Our listening devices are also very helpful both for residential use and in hospitals, for example, where it may be difficult to hear what the doctor or nurse says.”
The company has created many products designed to meet the unique needs of their consumers, and below we compare the features of two of its most popular products – Maxi Pro and Mino – which both work by filtering out background noises and refining speech before it hits the ears.
With user-friendly features and comfortable ergonomics, the Maxi Pro is a handheld listening tool with Bluetooth capability, and the Maxi Pro Bundle pack includes a personal amplifier, a TV streamer, a choice of either headphones or earphones, a belt loop, and everything needed.
The amplifier is similar to the size of a TV remote, with large soft-grip buttons that make it easy to handle for those with tremors and low dexterity. One large button controls the volume, and another for tone can be modified to make the S, F and T sounds more pronounced. Three smaller buttons on top of the device control the power, the microphone and the Bluetooth connection to a TV or cell phone. The Maxi Pro can help users improve their hearing in a variety of settings:
- To hear a conversation, the headphones simply need to be plugged into the amplifier. Once the power and microphone button are turned on and the amplifier is pointed at the person talking, background sound is filtered out and speech can be heard clearly.
- To hear the TV, simply plug the TV streamer into an outlet, then attach the device to the back of the TV using the included optical or analog cord. Once you push the Bluetooth button down for three seconds, the sound of the television is streamed directly into the headset, and the TV volume can be adjusted using the amplifier.
- To hear a phone call, push the Bluetooth button once to pair with a smartphone. Once connected, any phone call that comes in while listening to the TV will immediately mute the TV and allow the voice on the phone to be heard. When the phone call ends, just push the Bluetooth button again to return to TV listening.
The Maxi Pro offers an additional neck loop accessory to be used with hearing aids equipped with Telecoil. It transmits speech to the hearing aid and refines sound before it reaches the ear.
Mino is the company’s more compact personal amplifier. Because it’s lighter and smaller than Maxi Pro, it’s easy to carry in a pocket or on a belt. The product comes with the amplifier, a charger, neck strap and a belt clip.
Mino can be used with headphones or earphones, and includes a MicroSet, an accessory specially developed for Mino. Simply attach the lapel microphone to your shirt and put Mino in a pocket to free your hands for other activities.
The amplifier is equipped with two different microphones that can be adjusted depending on the user’s surroundings:
- The omnidirectional mic is best for quiet environments because it picks up sound from all around the room—for example, if a family is chatting quietly around the kitchen table.
- The directional mic is best in louder venues – such as during dinners or in the car – because it filters out background noises and focuses on the voice that’s speaking.
To hear a conversation, simply connect a headset into the amplifier and then point the microphone directly toward the person talking. If too much background noise is heard, the MIC button can be pushed to switch to the directional microphone. Mino also has a built-in Telecoil feature to help with hearing in venues where there’s a loop system.
To listen to a TV or radio, an optional cable kit – which includes a stereo cable and an RCA adapter – is available to connect the personal amplifier to the device you want to listen to.
Which listening device is best?
When it comes to choosing the best Bellman & Symfon listening device, it all depends on a senior’s lifestyle and preferences. Active people who prefer to have a listening device readily available in their pocket may prefer Mino’s compact size and the ability to switch between directional and omnidirectional microphones. For those who stay home more often or prefer to have a Bluetooth connection to the TV and phone, the Maxi Pro may be the best option.
No matter which product you choose, both devices are easily rechargeable and excellent choices for seniors looking to once again enjoy the sounds of life at an affordable price.