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5 Reasons to Not Get a Hearing Aid

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(and why you should rethink them)

You know (theoretically), if you have significant hearing loss, you should really get a hearing aid. Of course I hear lots and lots of reasons for why people want to delay the process. Did you know that on average, people will wait 7 years after they NEED a hearing aid before they actually get one??? This saddens me to no end! The sounds of birds chirping, a grandchild’s sweet whispers, the punchlines of all those jokes…missed. Those moments are gone. Here are the top 5 reasons that people in my office give me to wait to get hearing aids.

1. I hear fine. I just can’t understand people.

This is usually not an excuse, but a misunderstanding (pun intended).  This is THE primary reason that people WAIT to get their hearing tested at all. Check out the picture below.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 7.21.59 PMThis picture demonstrates the most common type of hearing loss that I see in my office, a high frequency loss. That means that the letters on the right hand side of the picture, above that line, are not being heard well. No wonder everyone sounds like they are mumbling! The letters of the alphabet are different frequencies, and most hearing losses aren’t a flat, horizontal loss, but more of a zigzag or a slope. So you HEAR, but you miss certain letters in words. Did they say fat, or sat or that? A hearing aid should fill in those “holes” in your hearing so you can stop saying, “huh?” so much!

2. They will make me look old.

False! Hearing aids can be SO tiny. They can slide invisibly down in your ear, secretly behind your ear, and you can use a little remote control to change the volume so that you don’t have to reach up and draw attention to them. What makes you look more old: Saying HUH? every other sentence and sitting out of a lively conversation?? Or inconspicuously using a medical device so that you can stay involved? Glasses don’t seem to have nearly the stigma that hearing aids do and we need to bust that up!

3. They will be a hassle.

It’s true that there is some basic maintenance to keep your hearing aids clean and clear of debris, but it’s actually pretty minimal. They do take batteries, and those will need to be replaced regularly, but most hearing aids will say “battery” in your ear when it is low, and you can easily keep extra batteries in your pocket or purse so that they are always at arm’s reach. It’s also true that it is one more thing to keep up with, but I believe that when you hear the benefit of your new little piece of technology, the upkeep doesn’t feel like a hassle at all. There comes a time when the benefit outweighs the hassle.

4. I’m going to die soon anyway.

Sheesh. I hear this several times a week from my older clients. Now, I fit people of all ages with hearing aids, but the demographic certainly skews older (possibly this is also because people have procrastinated so long after they actually NEEDED the help!). This is the most backwards argument. If you are serious that you don’t think you will make it through the year, then by golly, don’t you want to hear for it?? Don’t you think your kids and grandkids want you to catch every moment you have left?

5. They are too expensive.

Hearing damage and loss is cumulative. Generally, if you live long enough, you will need some type of hearing help. Our parts wear out, that is a fact of life. One of the great things about getting that help when you initially need it, is that hearing aids can help you maintain your understanding of speech and cognitive function. There are strong links between untreated hearing loss and dementia. If you needed a new hip, you would feel the pain and be raring to get a new one. Hearing loss is not painful and thus denial and procrastination is much easier. Find a practitioner who is ready to work within your budget and look for financing options.

Have some more reasons to put off treating your hearing loss? Throw them my way, I’ll give you a rebuttal :) There cannot be a more satisfying job than mine. I get to help mothers hear their children, people hear their bosses, and friends catch the punchline of the joke!

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Hi! I’m Madison. I’m working towards becoming a Hearing Instrument Specialist ( like my mother ). I’m observing, learning, absorbing and sharing as I become a part of this beautiful community. I want to know you! So please leave me comments if my posts are meaningful to you or teach you something new, and feel free to tweet me at @InMyGoodEar!

Cheers!

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11 reasons 2

11 Reasons to Consider Hearing Aids NOW

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  1.  Your family and friends will appreciate not having to strain their voices or repeat for you (as often).
  2. You are more likely to hear warning sounds like a fire alarm, a car horn, or someone’s footsteps approaching.
  3. It can reduce anxiety and stress to not have to strain and focus so hard on understanding what people are saying.
  4. Hearing loss almost always continues to get worse (except in some rare cases), so waiting for things to get better is really not an option.
  5. Wearing a hearing aid can significantly protect your cognitive ability to understand words. Wearing hearing aids keeps your brain stimulated.
  6. Wearing two aids or wearing an aid on one side with a unilateral  hearing loss, can help you sense the direction of sounds, improving your balance.
  7. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to dementia.
  8. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to depression and introversion.
  9. Untreated hearing loss can cause you to misunderstand words. This can lead you to miss appointments, to meet at the wrong place, and can cause disagreements and conflict between family members.
  10. Tinnitus, a catch-all term for ringing in the ears or a sound that isn’t actually occurring in your environment, can be soothed and even masked by a hearing aid.
  11. The sounds you miss today are forever gone. Your grandchild’s whisper, the birds on your back patio, the punchline of the joke at dinner.

Have more reasons to add? Leave them in the comments below!

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Hi! I’m Madison. I’m working towards becoming a Hearing Instrument Specialist ( like my mother ). I’m observing, learning, absorbing and sharing as I become a part of this beautiful community. I want to know you! So please leave me comments if my posts are meaningful to you or teach you something new, and feel free to tweet me at @InMyGoodEar!

Cheers!

 

 

For further reading:

AARP: Hearing Loss Linked to Dementia

American Academy of Audiology: Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Depression, Social Isolation In Seniors

Mayo Clinic: Tinnitus

 

 

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“Aren’t you wearing a hearing aid?! Why can’t you hear me?”

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Have you had a friend or family member say this to you? Have you said or thought this when talking to someone that you know has a hearing aid??

This week in my office, I had a woman break down in tears as she explained to me how frustrated she felt when her family said these exact phrases to her. I had inherited this patient, so this was my very first chance to counsel her on her type of hearing loss and what she should and could expect from her hearing aids. A look at her chart told me that we had more than doubled her understanding of speech from 32% to 72%.  Wow, what an increase, yet she will still miss 3 out of 10 words.

It is a common misconception that getting a hearing aid is the total extent of hearing rehabilitation. Pop one on and you are back to “20/20″ hearing. I can’t tell you how much I wish this were the case. A hearing aid is only one piece of hearing rehabilitation. It may need to be bolstered by lip-reading, watching other body language clues, asking the speaker to slow down or speak up, reducing environmental noise, using additional assistive devices and even by strengthening auditory cognition through brain-teaser games. ASHA, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, has great resources to learn more.

Use my mom‘s 10 Commandments the Hearing Impaired Wish You Knew to open the conversation and help educate your family and friends on your hearing limitations. It’s a quippy little guide with tips like, “Thou shalt not speak to the listener from another room”.

benefit not perfection

Having a little grace, forgiveness and patience with those that don’t quite understand what you are going through is the best way to handle those seemingly careless comments. Educating them in the same way that your hearing care provider educated you will help close the gap in that understanding. If you are being proactive in seeking hearing rehabilitation and by wearing a  hearing aid then I AM PROUD OF YOU! I’d love to hear how you relate to this post, or how you have gotten family or friends to come around and be a little gentler with you when talking about your hearing loss.

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Hi! I’m Madison. I’m working towards becoming a Hearing Instrument Specialist ( like my mother ). I’m observing, learning, absorbing and sharing as I become a part of this beautiful community. I want to know you! So please leave me comments if my posts are meaningful to you or teach you something new, and feel free to tweet me at @InMyGoodEar!

Cheers!

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Ten Commandments the Hearing Impaired Wish You Knew

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My mother (a hearing instrument specialist at Baker Hearing Aids in Macon, GA) has a big stack of these commandments by the door of her office and suggests that her clients take as many copies as they would like so they can give them to friends and family! Just because someone’s hearing is being improved by a hearing aid, it does not necessarily mean that they will be able to now hear everything in the “normal” hearing range. The method of hearing loss, the duration of the loss, the extremity of the loss and many, many more factors may help us drastically improve hearing, while still leaving much to be desired.

For example (completely hypothetical numbers), a client could find that they only understand 2 out of every 10 spoken words in a hearing test at “normal” volume. Perhaps with their specific range of loss, with good hearing aid programming and amplification, they are able to understand 8 out of 10 words. That is a HUGE improvement! One that will absolutely prove life altering, however, family and friends have to be understanding and patient as this person will still miss an average of 2 out of every 10 words. Now if this person can see your body language and read your lips they may get full understanding. Read these commandments so that you can do everything possible to support your hearing impaired friend and can improve their participation in the conversations of life.

 

Ten Commandments

 Update: Here is a bonus 11th commandment from Marigold, “Thou shalt not assume. Anyone can be hearing-impaired, at any age, whether they wear any sort of Hearing Instrument or not.”

Do you have another commandment to add to the list? Do you wish your family and friends knew these rules? Feel free to share this list through all the social buttons at the top and bottom of the page :)

 

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Hi! I’m Madison. I’m working towards becoming a Hearing Instrument Specialist ( like my mother ). I’m observing, learning, absorbing and sharing as I become a part of this beautiful community. I want to know you! So please leave me comments if my posts are meaningful to you or teach you something new, and feel free to tweet me at @InMyGoodEar!

Cheers!

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Grieving Hearing Loss

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Have you grieved your hearing loss?

On twitter this week, I saw several comments about the emotions of mourning, missing, and accepting hearing impairment. We are only born with five senses, and no bones about it, to lose one of them partially or completely can be traumatic.

I currently have hearing in the normal range, but I can most certainly empathize with feelings of grief. I experienced a different kind of loss, when my fiancé passed away unexpectedly in 2009 ( I rarely share this information anymore, but perhaps this is part of my catharsis too). Losing a person that you feel is a part of you could be similar to losing a physical ability. You must form new habits under these new conditions. Assumptions you held about life, living, friends, and even your own plans and goals, must be reevaluated as your mind works to create a new understanding of what your life will be.

6-6-hearing-web-gfxOf course the method of hearing loss will affect your emotions surrounding it, as a sudden loss may illicit very different emotions than a gradual loss. In my own grief journey, I have not found the much-talked-about “five stages of grief” to be true. My truth has been that there might be stages, but you may go through more or less than someone else. You may go through them in a very different order than other people. Most importantly, you have to do what is best for you! Not one person on this earth has lived your life and can tell you the perfect way to handle your situation. In fact, perhaps you aren’t grieving your hearing loss at all. It may just seem like a fact of life that you want to take in stride. That’s ok too! 

Here is a simple truth: Your new reality doesn’t have to be a worse reality.

There is a HUGE community of people who have hearing loss just like you! Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 people have hearing loss? But how about some similar numbers, that only 1 in 5 people who could be helped by hearing aids actually seek help. And this one is sad but not unexpected: on average people will wait roughly ten years with hearing loss before seeking help. This is especially dangerous as the phrase “use it or lose” can mean that untreated hearing loss can go so long that your brain has difficulty distinguishing clear sounds, even with amplification. If you are concerned about this, just research auditory deprivation. You must be emotionally ready to get help, but please don’t take too long! When you take your fear of stigma, judgement, agism, and loss, and you put it aside to step into the open, you will experience so much more acceptance and support than you imagined.

ColoredHearingAidsEmbrace your new techy toy and order the neon green hearing aid! I can see Twitter is alive with people discussing, contemplating and encouraging each other in this journey. Just search hashtags like #Hearingaids #Hearingloss #Hearing #Sound #Deaf and many more keywords (or click on my links), to find conversations to jump into.

I am joining the community of those with hearing loss as an outsider, a newbie, and to some, perhaps even a “young’n”! The more I learn, the more that I want to facilitate discussion on some of the harder and more emotional issues that come with hearing loss.

“One of the most valuable things we can do to heal one another is listen to each other’s stories.” – Rebecca Falls

So I wonder, have you grieved?

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Hi! I’m Madison. I’m working towards becoming a Hearing Instrument Specialist ( like my mother ). I’m observing, learning, absorbing and sharing as I become a part of this beautiful community. I want to know you! So please leave me comments if my posts are meaningful to you or teach you something new, and feel free to tweet me at @InMyGoodEar!

Cheers!

 

 

Sources:

http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/Pages/quick.aspx

http://journals.lww.com/thehearingjournal/Pages/InformationforConsumers.aspx 

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hearing-loss/DS00172 

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