hearing aids

31
May

How To Talk To Your Grandchildren About Hearing Loss

You love your grandchildren — their smiles, the way they look like their parents did when they were young, and their exuberance — but sometimes, they are very hard to hear. Children have a way of swallowing their words, or slurring them together, and typically have softer and higher pitched voices. That is, when they are not shrieking with delight or terror. Their way of speaking makes it hard to understand them under any conditions, but with hearing loss it can be even tougher, especially with age related hearing loss, which tends to impact the higher frequencies most.

Hearing loss is no reason to miss out on the fun and important relationships you desire with your grandchildren. Teaching them the best way to speak with you will take patience and repetition, but it is worth it. Share these tips with them in an age appropriate way each time you see them. Soon it will become second nature.

 

Ten Tips For Better Conversations With Your Grandchildren

1. Tell them about your hearing loss. The first step is letting them know that it is hard for you to hear them. You can show them your hearing aids and explain that your ears don’t work as well as theirs do. For younger children that might be enough of an explanation, but older children will be interested in the scientific aspects. Visit websites like KidsHealth or Dangerous Decibels with them to explore how hearing works and the causes of hearing loss.

2. Ask them to get your attention first. Explain that it is much easier for you to hear them if they get your attention first. That way you can concentrate on what they are saying and have a better chance of understanding the topic of the conversation. Knowing the context can help a lot when you need to figure out harder-to-hear words.

3. Make sure they are facing you. Explain how you use their lips to help you hear. Tell them, “If I can’t see you, I can’t hear you.” My family and I sometimes play lipreading games to help them understand how I use lipreading to hear. They can be a lot of fun

4. Keep background noise low and the lights bright. Ask them to turn down the music while you talk or to move away from the air conditioning unit to minimize competing sounds. Well-lit spaces also make it easier to lipread.

5. Teach them to take turns speaking. Children can be excited to speak and don’t know to wait their turn, but it is probably difficult for you to hear more than one speaker at a time. Remind them to take turns speaking. This is good manners in any event, and will make it much easier for you to follow the conversation.

6. Ask them to speak at a normal volume and pace. Explain that normal speech is easier to lipread, while shouting or excessively slow speech is harder for you to understand. Clarity of the sounds is the key, so ask them to speak each word as clearly as they can rather than slurring them together. Sometimes asking them to pretend they are speaking to an audience or are onstage can help them understand what you mean.

7. If you miss something, ask for clarification. Rather than just saying “What?” or tuning out, ask them to rephrase or spell a difficult word (depending on their age). Or ask them to point to the object in question. Repeat the part of the sentence you heard and ask them to fill in the missing pieces. Say what you think you heard — sometimes the mishearings can be very funny if you let them be.

8. Get down to their level. Sit on the floor with them, or ask them to join you on your lap. Interact with their toys along with them. The more engaged you are with them in activities, the more willing they will be to make the extra effort to communicate.

9. Maintain a good energy level. Communication takes work, especially when you have hearing loss. Make sure you are well rested before a visit. Eat healthy foods, try to exercise regularly and be sure to get enough sleep. Don’t be afraid to take breaks if your energy is lagging.

10. Keep your sense of humor. It can be frustrating, but remember the goal is to connect with your grandchildren, so why not laugh at the misunderstandings rather than being upset by them. Children are used to making mistakes and learning new words, and they will not judge you for your errors. If you are at ease with your hearing loss, they will be too.

Hearing loss can make communication difficult, but by following these tips and maintaining a healthy attitude, it does not have to stand in the way of meaningful and lasting relationships with your grandchildren. Don’t let a single moment with them go to waste.

Source: https://livingwithhearingloss.com/2017/01/31/how-to-talk-to-your-grandchildren-about-your-hearing-loss/

31
May

Study Shows That Hearing Aids Improve Brain Function

According to a recent study by Jamie Desjardins, PhD, an assistant professor in the speech-language pathology program at The University of Texas at El Paso, hearing aids improve brain function in people with hearing loss.

It is known that hearing loss, if left untreated, can lead to emotional and social consequences, reduced job performance, and diminished quality of life. Recently, research has shown that untreated hearing loss also can interfere with cognitive abilities because so much mental effort is diverted toward understanding speech.

Jamie Desjardins, PhD

Jamie Desjardins, PhD

“If you have some hearing impairment and you’re not using hearing aids, maybe you can figure out what the person has said, but that comes with a cost,” said Desjardins in a recent university announcement. “You may actually be using the majority of your cognitive resources – your brain power – in order to figure out that message.”

Desjardins explained that as people age, basic cognitive skills – working memory, the ability to pay attention to a speaker in a noisy environment, or the ability to process information quickly – begin to decline. Hearing loss affects more than 9 million Americans over the age of 65 and 10 million Americans ages 45 to 64, but only about 20% of people who actually need hearing aids wear them, Desjardins said.

To explore the effects of hearing loss on brain function further, Desjardins studied a group of individuals in their 50s and 60s with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss who had previously never used hearing aids. Study participants took cognitive tests to measure their working memory, selective attention, and processing speed abilities prior to and after using hearing aids.

After two weeks of hearing aid use, tests revealed an increase in percent scores for recalling words in working memory and selective attention tests, and the processing speed at which participants selected the correct response was faster. By the end of the study, participants had exhibited significant improvement in their cognitive function.

“Most people will experience hearing loss in their lifetime,” said Desjardins. “Think about somebody who has hearing loss and is still working and they’re not wearing hearing aids. They are spending so much of their brainpower just trying to focus on listening. They may not be able to perform their job as well. Or if they can, they’re exhausted because they are working so much harder. They are more tired at the end of the day, because it’s a lot more taxing. It affects their quality of life.”

Desjardins is currently undertaking a study that focuses on the use of hearing aids by Hispanics. Research shows that only 5% of Mexican-Americans wear hearing aids. She has developed a survey to investigate their attitudes toward hearing loss. The survey will be conducted at health fairs in the community, including one at the Mexican Consulate in El Paso, Texas. Desjardins also will begin work on another study that will look at older bilingual people and their ability to understand speech.

Source: http://www.hearingreview.com/2016/02/study-shows-hearing-aids-improve-brain-function/

31
May

Hearing Loss Costs Far More Than Ability to Hear

Mark Hammel’s hearing was damaged in his 20s by machine gun fire when he served in the Israeli Army. But not until decades later, at 57, did he receive his first hearing aids.

“It was very joyful, but also very sad, when I contemplated how much I had missed all those years,” Dr. Hammel, a psychologist in Kingston, N.Y., said in an interview. “I could hear well enough sitting face to face with someone in a quiet room, but in public, with background noise, I knew people were talking, but I had no idea what they were saying. I just stood there nodding my head and smiling.

“Eventually, I stopped going to social gatherings. Even driving, I couldn’t hear what my daughter was saying in the back seat. I live in the country, and I couldn’t hear the birds singing.

“People with hearing loss often don’t realize what they’re missing,” he said. “So much of what makes us human is social contact, interaction with other human beings. When that’s cut off, it comes with a very high cost.”

And the price people pay is much more than social. As Dr. Hammel now realizes, “the capacity to hear is so essential to overall health.”

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting adults, and the most common among older adults. An estimated 30 million to 48 million Americans have hearing loss that significantly diminishes the quality of their lives — academically, professionally and medically as well as socially.

One person in three older than 60 has life-diminishing hearing loss, but most older adults wait five to 15 years before they seek help, according to a 2012 report in Healthy Hearing magazine. And the longer the delay, the more one misses of life and the harder it can be to adjust to hearing aids.

As Dr. Hammel put it: “I had lost the habit of listening. After I got the aids, it took me a long time to get back into the habit of paying attention to what people were saying.”

The author of the Healthy Hearing report, Debbie Clason, pointed out that “the sooner you get help for your hearing impairment, the easier it will be for your brain to use the auditory pathways it’s developed for processing sound.”

The National Register of Health Service Psychologists states in an online continuing education course, “For the majority of people with hearing loss, the difficulties faced can wreak havoc in a person’s life.” Yet, the register added, “many people who have hearing loss are not aware of it, do not accept the fact of it, or are unwilling to discuss their hearing loss.”

In a large survey by the National Council on the Aging, two-thirds of older adults with untreated hearing loss explained their reluctance to get a hearing aid with statements like “my hearing is not bad enough” or “I can get along without one,” and one person in five said things like “it would make me feel old” or “I don’t like what others will think about me.”

However, those in the survey who had hearing aids were, on average, more socially active and less likely to be depressed, worried, paranoid or insecure, and their family members and friends were even more likely than they were to have noticed these benefits.

The findings of the survey, conducted among 2,096 hearing-impaired people and 1,710 of their family members and friends, and funded by the Hearing Industries Association, a trade group, were published in 1999, but experts say little has changed in people’s attitudes and treatment of hearing loss.

Many who are hard of hearing don’t realize how distressing it is to family members, who typically report feeling frustrated, annoyed and sad as a consequence of communication difficulties and misunderstandings.

For the hearing-impaired person, confusion, difficulty focusing and distracting thoughts are common cognitive impairments, Andrea Ciorba of the University Hospital of Ferrara in Italy and colleaguesreported in Clinical Interventions in Aging. Other frequently reported problems include an inability to think straight and difficulty making decisions.

When people can’t hear what is being said, they may become anxious and even suspect that others are talking about them behind their backs or saying things others don’t want them to hear. Anger, embarrassment and a loss of self-esteem are common emotional fallout.

Links have also been found to an increased risk of dementia, which is not surprising given the diminished cognitive input among those with untreated hearing loss. In a 2013 study of 1,984 older adults living independently and followed for 11 years with repeated cognitive examinations, “rates of cognitive decline and the risk for incident cognitive impairment were linearly associated with the severity of an individual’s baseline hearing loss,” Dr. Frank R. Lin of the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health and his colleagues in the Health ABC Study Group reported.

Untreated hearing loss can have physical consequences as well, including excessive fatigue, stress and headaches, which may result from trying so hard to hear and understand spoken language. One recent study found that moderate to severe hearing loss was associated with a 54 percent increased risk of death, and mild hearing loss with a 27 percent increased risk of death, compared with individuals with normal hearing. Affected individuals also report more problems with eating, sleeping and sex, according to Deborah Touchette, an audiologist in Paradise, Calif.

Working people with poor hearing are more likely to earn less than those with good hearing; they may even risk losing their jobs if the work depends on good communication.

“If the boss says, ‘Don’t go over $15,000 on that contract,’ and the employee hears $50,000, there is a potential for problems,” the national register wrote. A 2011 study by the Better Hearing Institute, the educational arm of the Hearing Industries Association, found that untreated hearing loss adversely affected productivity, performance and career success, and was associated with a loss in annual income that could reach $30,000. Those in the study with severe hearing loss were twice as likely to be unemployed as people with normal hearing and nearly twice as likely to be out of work as their peers who used hearing aids.

There are safety issues, too, for someone who may miss auditory signals important for survival, like alarms, car horns and shouts of warning, as well as the potential impact of missing sounds like the ringing of a telephone, doorbell or alarm clock.

Source: https://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/well/2015/09/28/hearing-loss-costs-far-more-than-ability-to-hear/