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What You Can Expect at a Hearing Aid Fitting

Now that the time is coming for a hearing aid fitting, you probably feel overwhelmed. It is highly likely that you have many questions for the audiologist regarding the fitting of hearing aids. The initial hearing evaluation probably consisted of hearing tests and the selection of appropriate hearing aids. Now is the time for the fitting, so read on and put your fears to rest.

Hearing Aid Fitting

Your professional hearing aid fitting will begin with the actual physical fitting of your new hearing aids to your ears. This process usually lasts about an hour to ensure a proper fitting. A hearing aid specialist will make sure that the earpieces fit comfortably in your ear canals. If the hearing aids are of the behind-the-ear type, the specialist will make sure they fit securely behind your ears. After a proper fitting, the next step is customized programming of the hearing aids based on your hearing consultation.

Real-ear Measures

Following the physical adjustments of the hearing aids, your audiologist will check to see if the hearing aids are delivering the correct amount of amplification. Real-ear measures provide the audiologist with this valuable information. The test determines the quality of the sound entering the ears, and whether or not any adjustments are in order. The audiologist takes measurements of sounds and calibrates the hearing aids accordingly.

Education

At this point, the physical fitting and sound measurements conclude. Now it is time to be educated about your new hearing aids. The audiologist will teach you care and maintenance for your devices. You will know the parts of a hearing aid and how to clean and care for them. Finally, the advanced features of the hearing aids and methods of troubleshooting enter the discussion.

Adjustment Period

The conclusion of the hearing evaluation is a perfect time to ask any questions you may have regarding your new hearing aids. Also, be sure to write down any questions you have during the adjustment period for future follow-up appointments. Adjusting to hearing aids takes time. Everyone adapts differently to hearing aids so take it easy on yourself and allow ample time to get used to the new devices. Your audiologist will explain what to expect in the coming weeks. It is likely that you will begin with a wearing schedule because new hearing aids can be overwhelming. Be sure to schedule a follow-up visit before you leave to address follow-up questions and adjustments.

A hearing aid fitting is a chance to be equipped properly with a hearing aid. It is a time for physical fitting, sound measuring, and patient education. It is nothing to fear, and there is no pain or discomfort involved in the fitting process. The process takes about an hour and includes take-home reference materials. Allow yourself plenty of time to ask questions and to schedule a follow-up appointment. The follow-up appointment will give you time to address additional issues that arise and for the audiologist to make any needed adjustments to your hearing aids.

 

 

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Arnold Palmer and Improved Hearing

Changes in hearing are very common. In fact, a reduction in hearing is the third most common physical condition in the U.S. and currently 1 in 5 people experience some form of reduction in hearing. 1 out of 3 people will have a hearing reduction by the age of 65. Unfortunately 75% of those people will do nothing about it. The worst part is this reduction happens gradually and for those who choose to ignore it, it may affect not only how they hear, but how they feel. Arnold Palmer experienced this reduction around the age of 40, “You may not be aware that it’s happening to you. It can happen so gradually. Then you find yourself not catching everything that’s said. In a crowd nobody stands out. You hear it all and yet you hear nothing. Then someone you trust steps up and convinces you to get your hearing checked. I hope that I can be that someone.”

A hearing reduction is much more noticeable than hearing aids and Mr. Palmer chose to do something about it. As he says, “Some think a hearing aid will make them look old. Well, how about not hearing. Now, that makes you look old. And asking, “What? What?” all the time. That gets old for everybody around you. It sure did for my wife Winnie. Having your hearing back makes you feel younger. You can participate more. Enjoy more.”

Hearing aid users report higher levels of involvement in social activities, fewer worries, more positive social and family experiences, and greater physical well-being than those who have an uncorrected hearing reduction. Correcting your hearing also may reduce frustration, fatigue and stress while enhancing emotional stability and improving self-esteem. Mr. Palmer states: “Hearing aid technology has made tremendous strides. It’s the difference between the old wooden shaft clubs we used to play with, and these graphite shafts we use today. New hearing aids are remarkably small. Mine deliver natural sound in a variety of listening situations.”

Just as eyeglasses do not “cure” vision deficiencies, hearing aids do not restore hearing to normal and they do not solve all hearing problems. The only way to tell if hearing aids might provide an important difference in your life and the lives of your family members is to consult a professional audiologist to discuss your particular situation. Mr. Palmer is a great example of someone whose life was certainly improved: “Well, it’s a funny thing, I’ve noticed the sound of the golf ball being hit by the golf club is different, and much more realistic, with the hearing aids. The sound with the hearing aids makes sense, and better represents what I know is happening to the golf ball. So you could say that the hearing aids help give me confidence regarding my golf game.”

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Hearing Loss Tied to Bigger Medical Bills for Late Middle-Aged

Hearing loss is associated with higher medical costs for late middle-aged adults, a new study finds.

Researchers examined health care use by nearly 562,000 adults between the ages of 55 and 64 who had private insurance. They found that over 18 months, those with hearing loss had 33 percent higher health care costs ($14,165, on average) than those withouthearing loss ($10,629).

However, the study only showed an association between hearing loss and higher medical costs, and not a cause-and-effect link.

The study was published online April 7 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

More than 60 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 70 have age-related hearing loss, and the rate of hearing loss triples between the ages of 50 and 60, the researchers said.

“This finding indicates that negative health-related effects of hearing loss, a condition that many consider simply an unavoidable result of aging, may manifest earlier than is generally recognized and may affect use of health care across the continuum of care,” study author Annie Simpson said in a journal news release. She is an assistant professor in the department of healthcare leadership and management at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston.

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Untreated Hearing Loss Can Bring a Host of Consequences

On the surface, it might seem that a little hearing loss isn’t a big deal. Maybe you’ll just turn the television up a bit louder, or ask your spouse to repeat themselves a little more often. But when hearing loss begins and continues to progress, it can bring about other obstacles and dangers that people aren’t always aware of.

Changes To Your Mental Capacity 

Think about how imperative hearing is to the development of our brains. From a young age, we learn how to talk and engage with those around us through sound. This doesn’t just stop once we’ve reached adulthood; in fact, we continue to exercise our brains each time we hear something and need to respond.

If your hearing is diminished and you don’t take any steps toward addressing it, you are putting yourself at a major disservice. As time goes on without you being able to hear well, your brain will essentially get less and less exercise. This change to your cognitive ability will affect you in every area of your life, not just during those moments you wish you could hear a little better.

Your Emotions Might Shift

Individuals with hearing problems don’t just experience their impairment on a physical or mental level; many times your emotions will undergo a huge change as well. Hearing loss that’s left untreated leads to increased isolation, as you can’t engage with the rest of the world like you used to. Easy things like going to see a movie or ordering dinner at a restaurant all become harder tasks, and some people eventually give up on going out.

This solitude and lack of engagement in activities you used to enjoy can lead to depression and anxiety in some. People who once were very outgoing might even experience a complete change in personality, finding they are much more introverted.

Health Problems Could Follow

Hearing loss can lead to a host of health conditions that could develop if left untreated for a long period of time. Aside from the fact that diminished hearing can contribute to accidents or injuries, it’s also been proven that those with a loss of hearing are three times more likely to fall than those who use hearing aids.

Another link that’s being studied? How hearing loss can contribute to dementia. It turns out that the cognitive changes that occur in your brain when hearing is reduced can play a role in this debilitating disease.

Treating Your Hearing Loss

Many people are nervous or embarrassed about visiting an audiologist and participating in a hearing evaluation, however, it could be the one step that dramatically changes your life. Given that diminished hearing is usually treatable, there’s no reason not to address it.

You owe it to yourself and the ones you love to treat your hearing loss before it takes a toll in the ways we’ve described above. When your mental, physical, and emotional health are at stake, take some time to consider the use of hearing aids and how they can positively affect your life.

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Rogaine for Your Ears

A couple of years ago, researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary discovered that an experimental drug could regenerate hair cells in the inner ear. This has been hailed as great news to all that suffer from hearing loss due to loud noise exposure. Maybe you won’t have to pay for that arena rock phase after all, right? Well… not so fast there, Gene Simmons! The research was performed on mice and so far, while promising, has not done anything more than create a new revenue stream for the researchers. Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly is bankrolling further research which hopefully will show that the drug also will work on humans. The researchers also hope to be able to administer the drug in a focused, specific way so that the hair cells are affected positively, while not affecting other cells at the same time negatively. And we still don’t know if the regenerated cells are even functional for hearing. For the millions running around making their significant others pay for the time they spent at concert halls by asking, “What?” constantly this is still cause for hope that help may be available soon. After all, who doesn’t want to be ready when Journey gets back together?

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7 Magnificent Features of Modern Hearing Aids

Wireless connectivity, remote controls, and synchronization. Does this sound like a new computer? No, it’s a new hearing aid. Modern technology has taken hearing devices out of the dark ages and equipped them with state-of-the-art features. If you think that your hearing loss will leave you with a bulky amplifier that is one generation away from an ear trumpet, it is time for another look. Or should I say, another listen?

Wireless Technology
Modern hearing aids now have wireless capabilities which enable hearing aids to communicate with each other. So if you make adjustments to one, the other will automatically adjust. If one adjusts to a changing sound environment, the other will follow suit. Would you like to connect to a mobile phone, tablet, or another Bluetooth-enabled device? An audiologist can recommend appropriate hearing aids and a compatible streamer.

Open-ear devices
In the past, it was common for audiologists to take impressions of patients’ outer ear canals to custom-fit a hearing aid. Today, technology has now made possible the development of devices that can leave the ear canal open. These discreet units fit behind the ear and leave the canal unoccluded. Open-ear devices are available in numerous designs much like ear jewelry.

Wind Noise Reduction
If you love being outside, you will certainly appreciate this new feature. Maybe your hobbies such as golfing, fishing, and boating have suffered due to excessive wind noise? This hearing technology can detect the presence of wind blowing across the hearing aid microphones. It then can either avoid or reduce the amplification of it.

Data Logging
Hearing aids that have memories! Data logging is an advanced feature that stores data about the multiple environments in which you may use your hearing aids. At a follow-up appointment, an audiologist can use the information regarding volume levels to further customize your hearing aids for you.

Learning Ability
The smart hearing aids. These hearing aids can learn and apply your personal preferences. These intelligent devices log volume and program preferences for certain environments and then automatically adjust when the situation is detected. This feature reduces the hassle the wearer experiences when making manual adjustments.

Directional Microphones
This feature improves speech understanding in background noise. These directional specific devices are designed to boost sounds that come in from the front of the hearing aid wearer and reduce sounds coming from other directions. The result is improved speech recognition and reduced ambient noise.

Remote Control
Some hearing devices operate via remote control. These controls can also function as a Bluetooth streaming device. These controls can be beneficial to those who need to make adjustments without actually touching the hearing aids. Although automatic controls have decreased the need for remote control devices, some users will still find them to be beneficial.

Thanks to the advances in modern technology, hearing aids are continuing to grow in comfort, style, and available features. Need more good news? How do ear-to-ear connectivity devices, smartphone compatibility, and inductively charged hearing aids sound to you? The future of hearing technology is resonating beautifully.

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Eating Your Way to Healthy Hearing

What you eat impacts how well you hear. A balanced diet with essential vitamins and minerals supports your hearing health. Strive for a diet that includes fish, whole grains, seeds, nuts, fresh vegetables, and fruit. Also include foods that have plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, like canola oil, soybeans, flaxseed, walnuts, and wheat germ. Here are a few ways to eat for healthy hearing.

Foods

To keep a hearing loss from impacting your life, eat a well-balanced diet. Choose foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, essential vitamins, and minerals. Here are four foods that are especially effective at protecting your hearing health:

  • Bananas, which contain magnesium, protect against hearing loss. Magnesium aids in the expansion of blood vessels which improves circulation in the inner ear. As a bonus, magnesium controls the release of glutamate which contributes to a noise-induced hearing loss.
  • Broccoli contains vitamin K, vitamin C, and fiber. These nutrients help stop free radicals from damaging tissue in your ears.
  • Salmon includes a large amount omega-3 fatty acids which reduce the risk of age-related hearing loss.
  • Dark Chocolate is a great way to build resistance. Is there anything better than a good excuse to eat chocolate? Dark chocolate is high in zinc which prevents age-related hearing loss.

Minerals

Minerals are vital to our overall health and body function. Most people know that calcium can build strong bones and teeth and that zinc is excellent for boosting immunity. Here are some minerals that can protect your hearing health:

  • Potassium regulates the amount of fluid in the blood and body tissue including the fluid found in the inner ear. This important fluid translates noises into electrical impulses that the brain interprets as sound. Aging causes potassium levels to drop which contribute to the age-related hearing loss, so it is vital to keep potassium levels up.
  • Folic Acid is critical to the body’s generation of new cell growth. Studies Indicate that adults with low levels of folic acid in their blood are more likely to develop presbycusis. Folic acid may slow this down.
  • Magnesium fights off the effects of free radicals emitted during loud noises which protects people from noise-related hearing loss.
  • Zinc boosts the body’s immune system and plays a role in cell growth and wound healing. It can help fight ear infections and is effective in the treatment of tinnitus.

Vitamins

Vitamins support eye, heart, and immune system health. But what about hearing? There is a long relationship between nutrition and hearing. Vitamins A, B, C, D, E along with iron, copper, iodine, and folate are effective nutrients for hearing health. Research Indicates that vitamins A, C, and E along with magnesium are effective fighters against noise-induced hearing loss through the prevention of the formation of free radicals.

“Eat your veggies” is certainly great advice. Choosing good foods that are rich in essential vitamins and minerals is not only an effective way to maintain your overall health, but it is also a powerful ally in the fight against a hearing loss. So eat a well-balanced diet that includes foods, minerals, and vitamins that can give your ears a boost.

 

 

 

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Summer Camps for the Hearing Impaired

Choosing the right summer camp for your child takes a bit of good, old-fashioned research and a lot of knowing what makes your own child tick. Choosing the right summer camp for a child with a hearing impairment requires the exact same thing. In fact, camps for children with hearing issues don’t differ greatly from camps for children without hearing issues when it comes to activities, comradery and long days of summer fun.

If you think your child is a good match for a summer camp program, the first thing you should do is decide whether you want to explore day camps or overnight camps. Once you choose the type of camp, here are a few questions you should ask to find the best match for your child.

  1. What are your child’s interests?   Try to find a program that aligns with your child’s passions. If there isn’t one in your area, look for a camp that offers a large variety of traditional activities for your child to choose from. It’s a wonderful opportunity to discover new skills and talents.
  2. Make sure your child’s communication style is supported by the camp. Are there resources for ASL, lip reading, spoken language or all of them? Is one style preferred over the others? Asking these questions will ensure that your child feels comfortable communicating his/her needs.
  3. What kind of special training do the counselors complete to work at the camp? The camp counselor is a trusted authority at a summer camp and you and your child need to know that they are properly prepared and equipped to handle all situations from homesickness to hearing aid malfunctions.
  4. Summer camps for the hearing impaired rely on visual cues for safety. For example, some camps use flags instead of whistles to monitor swimming. Find out exactly what the camp safety protocols are so you can familiarize your child with the basics and set your own mind at ease.
  5. Ask to tour the facility ahead of time. If you can’t arrange that, then schedule a lengthy call to learn about the camp and to ask questions.
  6. Find out if there’s a family day! Experiencing your child’s camp life during a visit can enrich the experience for the whole family and will give you a common frame of reference for all the camp stories your child will tell you.

Summer camps are about fun, fresh-air, and the freedom of summer. The warm sunny days in the water followed by cooler nights under a blanket around a campfire. That wonderful feeling of sound sleep after a packed day of hiking, crafts, and horseback riding. The ability to shed the baggage of a school year and to bond with a new group of friends. Individually, those are all amazing fragments, but together those moments help build a foundation of self-sufficiency, confidence and adventure for future growth.

For a list of summer camps for the hearing impaired by state, please click HERE.

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Hearing Aids: Donation and Disposal

Hearing aids are constantly evolving and you may find yourself with older versions as you upgrade to better models. The first thing to consider after an upgrade is whether you should keep the older models as a backup. They can be useful during cleanings, repairs, or if you’re concerned about wearing the newer ones in certain environments.

Once you’ve determined that you truly don’t need them, there are two obvious options – Donation and Disposal. Hearing aids are expensive, high-tech items that should be properly disposed of, at the least, and may even change someone else’s life as a donation. Here are some tips for donation and disposal of hearing aids:

DONATION

There are several wonderful options for donating hearing aids and we encourage you to explore donation as a first choice. There are many uninsured adults who could greatly benefit from your generosity. Here are three options:

The Lion’s Club: Hearing Aid Recycling Program (HARP)

According to the Lion’s Website, “The Hearing Aid Recycling Program (HARP) enables Lions to provide affordable, refurbished hearing aids for individuals with limited financial resources.”

The National Hearing Aid Project

The National Hearing Aid Project was created by Hearing Charities of America (HCOA) and aims to improve access to hearing aids for low-income individuals nationally.

The Miracle-Ear Foundation

All Miracle-Ear stores accept Miracle-Ear brand hearing aids to recycle or upcycle for someone in need.

Please, check with each organization for their donation policies and to determine if your gift is tax-deductible. There’s also information on how to set up a collection area in your town if you’re inspired to do more to help others affected by hearing loss.

DISPOSAL

During the life of a hearing aid, proper battery disposal should be heeded and the same is true at the end of the hearing aid’s usefulness. If you are throwing out an old hearing aid, remove the battery first. The most common form of hearing-aid battery is the zinc-air button disposable battery. Other hearing aid batteries contain mercury and are subject to disposal protocols. Zinc and Mercury batteries should not be thrown out with household trash.

Larger hearing aid retailers and some hearing aid clinics will accept used zinc and mercury batteries for safe disposal. You can also check with your hearing healthcare professional or your County waste management office to find local collection programs.

There are other parts of a hearing aid that may be repurposed by qualified professionals. The best way to find out if that is the case is to donate the device so it will be evaluated and potentially reused.

It is important to remember that hearing aids are considered medical devices and, as such, they are regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). This means that they should not be privately given or sold to anyone else for personal use. Hearing health is based on each individual and requires customized care. Schedule a consultation with us to figure out the right hearing health plan for you.

 

 

 

 

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Vacationing with a Hearing Impairment

If you’ve experienced a hearing loss, it can be intimidating to take a family vacation.  Your hearing limitations can impact your ability to enjoy yourself and the fun family days you’ve planned.  

We want to make this process smoother and easier for you and today many popular destinations have become more alert and accommodating to individuals with varying degrees of abilities.  For us, that could mean listening devices, and printed text provisions on narrated tours and all you need to do is ask and while you’re planning and making reservations, be sure to stipulate that you are hearing impaired.  The most important message is to have fun!  

Walt Disney World

It’s almost impossible to live in the United States and not have some degree of familiarity with this resort and theme park.  Mr. Disney certainly left an unforgettable legacy for kids of all ages.  And as you might expect, they are one of the industry leaders to offer assistive listening devices.  These include:  

  • Headsets
  • Service animals
  • Sign language interpretation
  • Captioned telephones
  • Handheld captioning devices
  • Video and reflective captioning

As we mentioned earlier, when you make your hotel reservations, just let them know that you request these options in your room.  

Walt Disney World, Epcot

Here you can enjoy a total sensory experience including sounds, touch, smell, and sight, so having a weaker sense can still permit an enjoyable vacation.  It really is a world of magic!

Visit the Customer Service Center upon arrival and let them know of any condition you may have and they will be able to offer assistance.  

  • There is an audio tour that tells you everything from attraction descriptions to how far you have to go to get to each location.  
  • Listening devices amplify sound tracks
  • Some attractions have video and reflective captioning or written scripts
  • With a two-week notice, you can request sign language interpreters, and some of the shows offer interpretations at certain times of the day.  Visit Guest Relations to learn more about show times
  • Cast members throughout the park will also be helpful resources for you

Universal Studios

Another popular destination in the Orland, Florida area is Universal Studios where you can live out dreams of super heroes, movies, rides, and buddy up with your favorite television characters.  Universal offers:

  • Interpreted performances at several attractions as well as at the live action shows
  • Rides that include closed captioning, captioned telephones, amplifying equipment and listening devices

Washington, DC

Our nation’s capital is a great destination, rich in history and there is no lack of help for any guests with a hearing challenge.  The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the White House offer hearing loops, visual captioning and receiver devices to help you be an active participant in tours.  

Cruising

Take a cruise to a paradise island is a dream that many of us have and a hearing impairment shouldn’t deter us from making a dream come true.

  • Holland America Lines can deliver you to many worldwide locations, and they have rooms that include captioned telephones, amplified telephones, closed caption decoders, visual alert systems and assistive listening devices
  • Disney Cruise lines is another viable option offering many of the same amenities

Traveling Tips

We have a few ideas that we hope will make your travel experience more pleasurable.

  • Be sure your hotel is aware of any condition and please be specific about your needs
  • Get text or email alerts for flight delays
  • Research destinations before finalizing plans
  • Be sure to pack extra batteries for your hearing aid, and if you have one, a backup aid is a good idea as well
  • Always have pen and paper handy in case you need to communicate that way
  • A dehumidifier will help keep your aid clean and dry if you’re traveling to a humid area
  • Be sure all your hearing supplies are in your carry-on bag if you’re flying  

 

Travel Agents

There are also several specialized travel agents who are especially in tune with hearing impairments.  Here’s a brief listing for you to consider: