5 Tips to be a Great Advocate

Being an advocate is hard, and when you’re an advocate for someone with hearing loss, it can be even more challenging. Hearing loss is connected to the misleading belief that only the elderly has it and that hearing aids aren’t for the “young.” In reality, hearing loss affects children and adults of all ages, and according to the World Health Organization, over a billion teens and young adults are at risk for hearing loss as of 2015. That being said, it is very difficult to encourage someone with hearing loss to get the help they need without alienating them or actually causing them to wait even longer.

Being an advocate for someone with hearing loss is hard because you aren’t trying to get someone else to help them but are trying to get them to help themselves. Here are five tips to be a great advocate for a friend or loved one with hearing loss.

  1. Let them come to you: Instead of constantly pushing them to get help or overwhelming them with hearing aid pamphlets and articles on hearing loss, let them come to you when they are ready. Everyone eventually reaches a point at which help is the only option left, so give them time to come to terms with their hearing loss and be ready to help when they ask for it.
  2. “With” not “at”: Don’t talk at them about hearing loss. Talk with them. Let them know you are there to listen and encourage them to be open about difficulties they may be facing.
  3. Sometimes, not all the time: When you notice them blaming their hearing issues on other things (people mumble, it’s windy, it’s loud, etc.), politely suggest that they should have their hearing checked just in case. If they get defensive and say no, let it go and try again at a later time. Be patient and pick your moments wisely. It’s better to mention their loss every now and then instead of all the time.
  4. Two minds think alike: If you have other friends who have hearing loss or wear hearing aids, consider introducing them to each other. Sometimes it takes someone else with hearing loss to help a person see how much he or she is really struggling and how much getting help could improve their life.
  5. Be patient: Try not to get frustrated or impatient when communicating difficulties arise and you have to repeat yourself multiple times. Getting angry or annoyed will only make you less trustworthy as an advocate and may make the person with hearing loss feel like you don’t support them anymore and consequently avoid interacting with you.

5 Halloween Safety Tips for Children with Hearing Loss

Halloween marks the most exciting night of the year for many children. Decked out in their new princess or superhero costumes, kids fill the streets in a hurried effort to amass buckets full of treats. Unfortunately, Halloween can also be a dangerous holiday for children. This is especially true to children who have hearing loss.

The following 5 tips will help children with hearing loss enjoy a fun and safe Halloween night.

  1. Check Hearing Aids

Check hearing aids before you leave to ensure they are functioning properly. Take extra batteries in case you need to change them during your time out.

  1. Make Sure Costumes Fit Properly

Avoid costumes that include masks, hats, scarves or other accessories that could dislodge hearing aids, cover the hearing aid microphones or obstruct your child’s vision. Costumes and accessories should fit well to maintain optimal hearing and avoid blocked vision, trips and falls.

  1. Stay Close

Children under the age of 13 should be accompanied by an adult. Keep an eye out for potential dangers that may be overlooked with the added excitement of trick or treating. Children with hearing loss may not be able to hear if a car is idling, and may unknowingly walk in front of cars assuming they are parked with the engine off. Always use sidewalks and crosswalks and encourage children to walk rather than run between houses.

  1. Walk in a Group

Children that can safely trick or treat without adult supervision should stay with a group of at least three other children. Establish a plan and outline the route the children will take before they leave. Make sure each child in the group is familiar with the route. Agree on an arranged meeting place to check in with them and make sure you know when to expect to have them home.

  1. Wear Reflective Clothing and Bright Colors

Give the children flashlights and apply reflective tape to costumes and treat bags to help pedestrians and drivers see your children. Wearing brightly colored costumes will make keep children visible.

Following these simple tips will help kids and parents enjoy a memorable and most importantly, a safe Halloween night!

 

3 Back-to-School Hearing Loss Tips

Hearing loss can make learning hard. Teachers constantly move around classrooms, may use microphones during lectures or outside noises may distract or interfere with the professor’s voice. Big classrooms and auditoriums can distort sound, and the presence of other students can make focusing hard as their own voices take over that of the professor’s.

Here are some tips to help make school easier with hearing loss:

  • Tell Your Teacher: Be up front with all of your teachers that you have a hearing loss. Explain to them privately what sounds are hard to hear, what words are hard to understand and what environments or situations are difficult for you. Sit down and discuss some ways in which your teacher can help make things easier such as ensuring he or she always faces you when he or she talks, providing visual or printed lessons in addition to verbal and weekly check-ins to make sure you’re not missing anything important.
  • Nominate a Note-taker: If you have trouble understanding teachers because their voices are lost in an auditorium, they are always moving around the classroom, or some teachers may have softer, higher-frequency voices. You may also have trouble understanding your fellow students’ questions or answers either because they were behind you or on the far end of a 300-seat lecture hall.  In order to combat this, you can get a note-taker through the school’s disability services. If you’re not comfortable doing this or have missed the deadline for a note-taker through school, consider asking a friend in class to help you take notes when you are having trouble.
  • Front Row: Sitting in the front row may mean you get asked more questions than most, but it also means you have put yourself in the best place possible to hear and understand your teacher. It also allows you to pivot left, right or backwards when another student is speaking and have a better chance at getting what they are saying.

Mile-High Hearing

When you fly a few times a year, you start to notice more and more about how your ears react to the noise and air pressure in the cabin. There are a few things everyone notices, but for someone with hearing loss, they might experience those annoyances amplified.

shutterstock_373442335The things you experience:

Difficulty hearing: Even when the passenger next to you talks as loud as they can, you still have to solely focus on what they are saying in order to understand them.

Tinnitus and muffled hearing: You are not alone when you hear that low-frequency hum in your ears after a full day of flying. Tinnitus is often caused by an exposure to loud noise (i.e. the plane’s engine) and results in a buzzing or humming in your ears. People’s voices sound muffled and it is hard to understand someone’s voice even though they are nearby.

Fatigue: Even after a nap on the plane and two cups of coffee, you still feel mentally exhausted.

The reasons why:

Difficulty hearing: The levels change depending on the size and type of plane, but airplane cabins have been measured to range from 75-120dB. In comparison, a Rolling Stones concert might be 120dB and an average conversation might be 75dB. If it is hard to hear someone, do not be too worried; the sound of the engine is much greater.

Tinnitus and muffled hearing: The sound of the plane’s engine is often marked as hazardous with sounds 85dB or louder labeled as “too loud” (click here to learn how loud is too loud). Research shows that you should not be exposed to these loud sounds for more than eight hours, so if you’re planning a trip across the world, be sure to protect your ears. Overexposure to these loud sounds includes ringing in your ears (otherwise known as tinnitus) and muffled hearing.

Fatigue: “Listener fatigue” is the phenomenon that occurs after being exposed to loud noises for a prolonged amount of time, listeners feel tired, fatigued and even irritable. Sound familiar? Exposure to loud noise in even our daily activities can negatively impact our overall health.

The solutions:

Remember to put the following items on a packing list.

Foam earplugs: You can pick up these earplugs in bulk at any convenience store or drugstore. Great for traveling with a group, these bright orange earplugs can be used once and thrown away.

Custom earplugs: An alternative to the foam earplugs, these custom fit earplugs provide a much higher comfort level than the cheaper foam option.

Headphones/custom earphones: If you’re an avid music listener, these headphones can be used for more than just listening to music. With proper fit and use, these custom earphones are great for reducing the noise of the cabin.

Noise-canceling headphones: These devices can provide a great seal to keep unwanted sounds out but also actively reduce the lower-frequency sounds around you. Beneficial on a plane, these can definitely help you to listen carefully.

Find the best fit to your own needs and remember to always include them on your packing list. And trust us, your ears will thank you.

Summer Hearing Aid Care

Summer means sun, warmth and days spent outside! But for those with hearing loss, summer can be particularly difficult.

Hearing aids can be easily damaged when exposed to heat and moisture. In the summer, sweat and water are the two biggest enemies of hearing aids. Sharp temperature changes can cause condensation; hot temperatures cause humidity and an increased propensity to sweat. All of these are damaging to your hearing aids and may prevent them from working properly.FAN2045912

Negative results could include: distorted or weak sound quality, reduced battery life and inconsistent functionality.

Audibel hearing aids now use HydraShield®2, a cutting edge nano-coating developed from a lotus plant to keep moisture out. HydraShield®2 mimics the lotus and keeps moisture and debris (sweat, wax and dust) out of the seams of the hearing aid case and the microphone ports.

But what if your hearing aids don’t have HydraShield®2? Here are some ways to keep your hearing aids safe and functional this summer.

  1.  Remove your hearing aids when exercising outside if it is raining or extremely warm.
  2. At night, leave the battery door open to allow dry, fresh air to move through the hearing aid and relieve any moisture.
  3. Keep you hearing aids in a protective case and out of direct sunlight if you are not wearing them.
  4. Do not store hearing aids in glove boxes, dashboards, or other environments where heat and humidity can build up.
  5. Remove your hearing aids before showering, swimming or any activity in which you will be exposed to water.
  6. Sunscreen has oils that can damage hearing aids, so remove your hearing aids before applying lotions or sprays. Additionally, ensure the sunscreen is dry before putting your hearing aids back on.

Summer can be trying at times, so feel free to reach out to us with questions and recommendations.

Did you know?

Did you know that May is Better Hearing Month? Did you hear that? The entire month is dedicated to the journey towards better hearing. You may be asking yourself, “Why would this be the case?” I mean, National Cat Day only lasts for 24 hours. Why does bettershutterstock_405201250 hearing get 31 glorious days?

The answer lies in the beautiful melodies of the bird songs on a sunny Spring morning. In the laughter and the soft whisper of “I love you” from a child. In the clinking of glasses and the engaging conversation around a dinner table in a crowded restaurant. In the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd at the local nine’s baseball game. Hearing connects people to the world and to others. It provides opportunities for social engagement, fulfillment, and enjoyment.

As hearing diminishes over time, these events may not seem as enjoyable anymore. Gradual hearing loss can slowly isolate people from friends and loved ones, which can result in a lack of participation in activities that were once loved. Even worse, untreated hearing loss can lead to depression as well a earlier development of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Our practice prides itself on helping people reengage their world again through the gift of sound. Our passion is helping our patients along their personal journey towards better hearing. If you or a loved one is ready to start the journey, or have questions regarding hearing loss, please contact us to set up an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!

Repairing Your Hearing Aid

Just like a phone or computer, hearing aids are sophisticated devices that can provide years of benefit when cared for properly.  Because of their everyday use, even with every precaution taken, they are susceptible to the elements along with other variables life may throw your way.  If your dog used your hearing aid as a chew toy, or your hearing aid has a simple malfunction, we’ve got you covered.

Here are a few simple reminders about caring for your hearing aids if you do run into a problem:

  • Never attempt to repair your hearing aids yourself. While do-it-yourself projects around the house may save you money, do-it-yourself repairs usually cause more damage than good to your hearing technology. If you run into a situation where you need a repair, report the problem immediately to your local provider’s office.
  • Never wear your hearing instruments in the shower or while swimming.
  • If your hearing instruments do get wet, never try any “quick drying” methods such as microwaves, hair dryers, or ovens. Consult with your provider if your instruments are inoperable due to moisture.
  • Always place hearing instruments in a safe place out of reach of pets or children.
  • If your hearing instruments sound distorted or unclear, they may be in need of repair and you should consult with your provider immediately.
  • Visit your provider at least twice a year for follow-up care and routine service. Hearing loss is dynamic, we recommend that you having your hearing tested at least once a year to make sure you are receiving the maximum benefit from your hearing instruments.

If you experience issues with your hearing instruments during your warranty period, simply bring them to our office.  In many cases, we’re able to fix the issue and find an immediate solution which saves you time and money.

If your hearing aids are experiencing a more complex problem, we may need to send them to the repair lab.  Because hearing aids become such an essential part of your life, we understand that even going a day without them can be disappointing and frustrating. Because of this, we work with our hearing aid factory for repairs, who prioritizes and realizes the value of quick turn-around time as much as we do.

You may be wondering, how much is this going to cost to fix? The cost of repair depends on 3 factors of whether or not the hearing aid is still under warranty, the extent of damage to the hearing aid, and the cost of replacement parts for you hearing aid.

If you purchased your hearing aids from us and they are still under warranty, your hearing aid repair cost will most likely be very small, or maybe even free! Old, or out-of-warranty, hearing aids may have a repair cost associated with them which depends on whether or not their broken parts can be repaired or replaced.

What happens if you didn’t purchase your hearing aids from us? We are committed to better hearing regardless of who you purchased your hearing aids from.  That being said, we provide repairs for major brands such as Audibel, Phonak, GN Resound, Siemens, Miracle Ear, Costco Kirkland, Unitron, Oticon and many more.

Whether you have a pair of hearing aids sitting in your desk drawer that have been broken for quite some time, or a hearing aid that you think may not be working like it used to, contact us today to help evaluate your options.  Your hearing is our number one priority!