Tips to Help You Adjust to Hearing Aids
Celebrating 35 years of Caring for Your Hearing
|Meredy Hase tests a child, 1987||Kupperman and Hase work to license audiologists in Wisconsin, 1989|
Hearing Loss UNDER Age 65
We used to think of hearing loss as something that only happened to our grandparents' generation. But you'd be surprised at how many people your age, and even younger, have a hearing problem.
According to a study recently published by the Better Hearing Institute, two-thirds of Americans with hearing loss are under the age of 65 and still in the work force. That includes one of every six "Baby Boomers" (ages 41 to 59) and one of every 14 "Generation X'ers" (age 29-40).
According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "Hearing loss is by no means an 'old person's disease' any longer. Each day, we see people of all ages come into our offices concerned they may have a hearing problem.
"There's even solid evidence to support the fact that for working Americans, hearing loss impacts their ability to make a living, up to $12,000 in lost income per year." (See related article)
Dr. Hase urges anyone who thinks they, or a loved one, may have a hearing loss to contact The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services without delay.
Auditory Deprivation refers to the fact that even though we "hear" with our ears, it's our brain that's the true organ of hearing.
When hearing loss is left untreated, the brain's ability to distinguish various sounds becomes less and less. Try to think of Auditory Deprivation as similar, in a sense, to muscles that atrophy when not used over a long period of time.
The reason Auditory Deprivation is important is that we have ample evidence proving how long people will wait before seeking help for a suspected hearing loss. Up to ten years, by some estimates.
In other words, the longer you wait to get help for your hearing loss, the less even the most advanced hearing instruments will be able to help you hear better. That's one more reason physicians recommend annual hearing checks as part of an overall health assessment.
The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services can perform hearing screenings that take only a few minutes. Concerned individuals are urged to contact them at the first signs of hearing loss, such as an inability to understand conversations in a crowded room or having to turn up the TV volume in order to hear.
Hearing & Income Loss
After years of research, there is new evidence that links hearing loss and loss of income. A study released by the Better Hearing Institute in Alexandria, VA, proves that untreated hearing loss may impact household income by as much as $12,000 per year.
The study also shows that hearing loss, which affects more than 28 million Americans, two thirds of whom are still in the work force, results in an annual loss of more than $100 billion in wages and worker productivity. The good news is people who find help for their hearing loss can regain up to 50% of that lost income.
According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "One of the misconceptions about hearing loss is that it's 'an old person's ailment'. But we know that hearing loss crosses all income lines and impacts people of all ages".
The new "Open Ear" Digital hearing instruments are especially designed to help Baby Boomers feel more comfortable about wearing hearing instruments.
Anyone interested in receiving a FREE Demonstration of Open Fit hearing technology are urged to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services.
Hearing Loss & the Family
For years, both researchers and hearing healthcare professionals have known much about the causes of hearing loss and how it affects the person who suffers from it.
But not until recently has attention been paid as to the devastating effects hearing loss has on family members and friends as well. This past year alone, several organizations have weighed in with their findings on this often overlooked medical problem that by current estimates, affects the lives and families of more than 30 million Americans.
For example, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a government agency whose task it is to research the lives of older Americans, released a study that confirms how often a person with hearing loss begins to feel isolated, eventually withdrawing from normal everyday activities and even from family and friends.
None of this is news, however, to Dr. Meredy Hase, who says, "I realized just how much hearing loss also affected family members when we''d spend so much time counseling them when we''d fit their loved one with hearing instruments".
The benefits of better hearing were the subject of an NBC report that aired on an installment of the NBC Nightly News. In that report, the testimonials of several patients and their families provided evidence of how lives can be changed for the good, once the decision has been made to seek help for a hearing problem.
Those interviewed talked about how experiences such as watching TV or enjoying conversations with loved ones - things that were not possible with hearing loss - were once again part of the everyday enjoyment of life. Social activities like dining at restaurants of going to the movies were also among the range of family life experienced through better hearing.
Thanks to recent advances in technology more help is available than ever before for those whose lives are affected by hearing loss. If left untreated, hearing loss will almost always become worse over time, another reason Dr. Hase urges people to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services if a hearing loss is thought to exist.
More Hearing Healthcare News
You know how dazzling the sun can seem when you walk out of a dark movie theater during daylight? Your immediate reaction may be to cover your eyes—a reflexive response based on your brain telling you that it’s too bright for you to be out there.
The longer you’ve been living with hearing loss, the more jarring the sudden noise may seem. And people typically do live with hearing loss for several years before deciding to try a hearing aid. In fact, a recent survey of 17,626 Consumer Reports members found that more than 6 in 10 waited for more than 2 years after they first noticed they had difficulty hearing before getting hearing aids.
“After that much time, the brain has fully adapted to listening through the filter of hearing loss, so it’s not surprising that there is an adjustment period needed to get used to newly amplified sounds,” says Catherine Palmer, Ph.D., associate professor of communication science and disorders and otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh.
On the positive side, CR’s survey also found that 3 out of 4 members said it took them less than a month to get used to their hearing aid.
Get the Fit Right
Making sure your hearing aids fit properly in your ears is the first, and most crucial, step toward successful use, and should be done before you take a new device home.
Not only does this make aids more comfortable to wear but it also makes them more effective. “The fit should be comfortable from the beginning,” says Palmer. “That doesn’t mean you won’t notice that something’s in your ear—at least for the first few weeks—but it shouldn’t hurt.”
Before going home, you also need to know how to correctly put the aids in yourself. Even though most aids now come with systems designed to reduce or eliminate feedback, you can still experience the unpleasant screeching or whistling sound if you don’t have the device placed exactly right.
“Never leave your doctor’s office without demonstrating at least two times that you can take the hearing aid out and replace it correctly yourself,” Clark says.
Help Yourself Adjust to 'New' Sounds
It can take some time to get used to hearing sounds that you may not have heard for years. Before you take your aids home, they will be programmed to your specific needs.
But if this feels painfully loud, they can be set lower at first, then gradually increase the volume as your comfort allows. Some hearing aids can actually be programmed to slowly amp up over a period of several weeks until you reach your target goal.
When you first start using the aids, know that it’s normal for sounds to seem not only too loud but also too high-pitched. But “the only way for your brain to adapt is through consistent exposure,” Palmer says.
So wear your hearing aids during all your waking hours right from the start, except in situations where they might get wet, such as swimming or showering.