Enjoying the Holidays with Hearing Loss

Enjoying the Holidays with Hearing Loss

Here we are, right in the midst of the holiday season! One highlight of this time of year is the opportunity to spend time with family and friends at big parties, small get-togethers, and even getting some quality time with our immediate families. The preparation for these events can’t be forgotten either. Although the tasks can feel endless at times, they are also fun aren’t they? Buying groceries and cooking for a big event can test our culinary skills indeed. Running errands around town can be chaotic with holiday traffic everywhere we turn, but the hustle and bustle also puts a buzz of excited energy in the air. Cleaning up the house for a gathering may seem mundane until you remember the connections with our loved ones that are maintained through these annual events. Those of us who have to travel across the country to meet up with our loved ones have a difficult task, as well, but the travel to see our loved ones has an underlying tone of anticipation.

Through all of these holiday activities, both attending gatherings and preparing for them, we can’t forget to include our loved ones with hearing loss in the process. A few simple tips can help us incorporate these family members into everything we do without overwhelming or stressing them out.

Preparing for the Holidays

Although you might worry that the process could be stressful or overwhelming, why not invite your family members with hearing loss along with you while you prepare for the holidays? They can join you for all of these preparatory tasks with just a few accommodations made. First of all, make sure that your family members with hearing loss are driving safely. If they do not have hearing aids, you might want to start a discussion about the dangers of driving with impaired hearing. For those who do have hearing aids, make sure to remind them how important it is to have assisted hearing on the road. While you go together shopping or running errands, be sure to stay within eyeshot as much as possible. If your loved one gets separated from the group, they may not be able to hear you calling their name. If noisy locations are a part of your preparation process, stand close by your loved one to communicate, looking them straight in the eye to assist communication.

Holiday Gatherings

When the time finally comes for a holiday party or gathering, it’s your time to really shine! Make sure that your loved one with hearing loss is able to do the same. A few simple tips will help make any gathering easier on your family member with hearing loss. First of all, it can help to speak more loudly, but take care with your tone. Raising your voice can often come with a feeling of annoyance or even anger. Be careful to keep your voice easy and gentle even when you raise the volume.

If you find your loved one in an awkward placement at a table or other arrangement, take the initiative to help them move to the middle of the group. Some subtle acts of translation can be helpful, as well. If you know that a person is speaking too quietly or is to far away to be understood, fill in the details for your loved one with hearing loss; context clues are very helpful. Don’t simply repeat the same thing over and over if your loved one cannot hear what you say. Instead, rephrase slightly, offering new context clues to help aid in the process of understanding. Reducing the background noise can be quite helpful, as well. Some music in the background is a surefire way to get any party in the festive mood, but make sure that it doesn’t simply make people raise their voices to compete for volume. If so, turn the background music down a few notches and watch as the group speaks more quietly.

These are just a few of the ways that you can consider the needs of your hearing-impaired family member at the gathering, but the most important thing is to make sure they feel included and like an essential part of the group.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

If you believe you have a hearing loss, why not give yourself the gift of hearing this holiday? Hearing loss affects you – and your loved ones. Difficulties with speech recognition could make communication a struggle, especially during the busy holiday season. Contact us at Hearing Consultants to schedule an appointment for a hearing test today.

This Fourth of July, Protect Your Family’s Hearing

This Fourth of July, Protect Your Family’s Hearing

 

It’s almost time to celebrate the red, white and blue! The Fourth of July is a wonderful time for us in the United States. It’s a time for us to honor those who gave their lives for the freedom and independence we enjoy today. July fourth is also an opportunity for us to gather with friends and family to enjoy pool time, sunshine, barbeque, and of course, awesome fireworks.

The festive, fun, and patriotic celebration of Independence Day also brings with it a real danger – one most of us likely have not considered. This danger is noise induced hearing loss, and those wonderful fireworks we look forward to each year may be to blame. Before the celebration this year, it is important to take some time to consider how you can protect your family’s hearing to enjoy a safe and healthy holiday.

How can fireworks cause hearing loss?

Excess exposure to any noise, regardless of its source, has the potential to cause hearing loss. This type of impairment is called Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) and can affect anyone at any age. In fact, it is estimated that about one in four young adults aged 20-69 do have an identifiable hearing loss and this number is only set to grow. Rates of noise induced hearing loss have been on the rise for quite some time, with an estimated 1.1 billion youth between the ages of 12-35 being at risk for developing a noise induced hearing impairment caused by recreational activities (http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/deafness-and-hearing-loss). Once acquired, noise induced hearing loss is rarely temporary and cannot be reinstated or cured. Once your hearing has been damaged by noise and is gone, its gone. This is why it is so important to remain educated about common dangers to your hearing, and how you can protect it.

Are fireworks really that loud?

Yes. Surprisingly enough, fireworks really are loud enough to cause damage to hearing, especially fireworks purchased for home use. When fired nearby, fireworks can ring in at a deafening 150-175 decibels – which is loud enough to cause instant hearing damage (https://www.boystownhospital.org/knowledgeCenter/articles/hearing/Pages/Fireworks.aspx). As perspective, an ambulance siren driving past rings in at only 120 decibels – quite a bit quieter than nearby fireworks. Fireworks are not only a sight for sore eyes, but can also be a sound to cause sore ears, too!

How do I protect my family’s hearing?

Just because fireworks have the potential to damage hearing, doesn’t mean you and your loved ones can’t participate in all the fun. There are some very easy and inexpensive steps you can take to ensure your family enjoys the festivities and protects their hearing.

 

Make plans for hearing protection.

There are many options when it comes to protecting your hearing. The best and most effective choice is custom-made earplugs designed for the purpose, however, these are not readily available to everyone. Disposable earplugs can also be effective. Disposable earplugs should have a clearly marked Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), which will indicate how many decibels of sound are blocked by the plugs. It may be smart to purchase your family’s earplugs in advance to allow everyone an opportunity to test them for comfort. Smaller children’s earplugs can improve comfort for the littlest ears amongst us. Pack enough earplugs for the whole family (not just the kids!) and be sure to include a few extras.

 

Take location into consideration.

The further you are from where the fireworks are launched, the lower the noise level will be. Finding a spot that is a little bit away from the heart of the action can help to protect your family’s hearing. Being “away from it all” may also be a breath of fresh air, allowing you the room and peace to really enjoy the time with your loved ones.

 

Make adjustments as needed.

Even with hearing protection and location in mind, it is important to still be cognizant of how the sounds are affecting you and your family. If at any time you notice yourself or one of your family members covering their ears, or expressing ear pain or buzzing or ringing in the ears, it’s a sign the environment is too loud. It may be time to find a spot even more set apart or maybe even enjoy the view from indoors.

Chances are, your family won’t lose their hearing over one night of fireworks, though it is important to teach healthy hearing habits as early as possible. From our family to yours, we truly wish you a very happy, safe, fun and healthy Independence Day this year!

Improve Family Communication by Treating Hearing Loss

Perhaps the best gift you can give dad this Father’s Day is the gift of re-engagement into family life. What do we mean? Positive reinforcement to have dad or grandpa get their hearing loss treated will help them engage in the world around them – including the family! We offer personalized hearing loss treatment at Hearing Consultants. Each customer gets an individualized treatment plan, and doesn’t dad deserve that?

Hearing loss leads to tension

Is Dad turning the radio up louder and louder? Turning the television up all the time? Does this mean family members aren’t engaging in quality social activities at home because they are bothered by the volume? This leads to a feeling of frustration on the part of the family member experiencing hearing loss. It also leads to a sense of isolation in one’s own home.When communication is difficult because you are constantly asking someone to repeat themselves or explain what you just tried to hear on the television, radio or even a phone conversation it can be exhausting and tempers fray. Perhaps the kids or grandkids don’t visit as much because there’s a lot of yelling going on.

Skipping social situations

You don’t want to be the dad or grandpa that stops going to recitals because you just can’t hear and then you can’t engage in a conversation about what you just attended with other family members. You don’t want to skip the celebrations of achievements at the ice cream or pizza parlor because conversations in a noisy place are just too difficult and its embarrassing to keep asking people to repeat themselves.

You don’t want to miss out on camping or fishing trips because you’re the guy that the others must keep yelling at or you are unable to participate in that quiet conversation around the campfire. You want to hear what family members have to say because communication is the foundation of all relationships. And they want you to hear them, they want you to be engaged in their lives!

Is it worth the risk?

Dads are one of the cornerstones of a family. If dad or grandpa is experiencing hearing loss, chances are its been going on awhile and hearing loss treatment would make things so much better! There are numerous studies that have documented the negative effects of untreated hearing loss on relationships with family, friends and co-workers. Over 48 million Americans has some hearing loss problems and many wait five to seven years after they begin having issues to get treatment.

A study done by Action on Hearing Loss involved 23 sets of domestic partners discussing hearing loss. They interviewed the person experiencing the loss and the partner. Each of the supportive partners said they wanted the partner with hearing loss to get treated and those not experiencing the hearing loss said that relationships were suffering because of it.

Often family members around someone experiencing hearing loss start thinking they are the problem and the person with the hearing loss is avoiding them. They think they’ve done something wrong. That is so far from the truth. You may be skipping interactions because you can’t understand the conversation and you don’t want to keep asking people to repeat themselves and other family members may be avoiding you because they think you are ignoring them.

The time for treatment is now

So Dad, the best gift family members can give you on Father’s Day if you are experiencing a hearing loss is a lot of supportive encouragement to get a hearing exam and get back on the road to a healthy family relationship. There are too many things you will miss if you don’t get your hearing loss treated.

Get out there and enjoy yourself at picnics, golf outings and even playing cards with your buddies without worrying about what someone just said and making an appropriate answer.

Hearing tests are painless and the team at Hearing Consultants can go through all the newest digital hearing aids and the wonderful technology associated with them that makes them easy and convenient to wear. They are more comfortable, there are invisible models and you can even wear them for a trial period to make sure you’ve got the model that is right for you!

Talking to a Loved One About Treating Hearing Loss

Talking to a Loved One About Treating a Hearing Loss

As Helen Keller once said, “Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.” Because untreated hearing loss often leads to breakdowns in communication and difficulties with speech recognition, there may be a strain in our most important relationships.

Hearing loss may be a difficult subject to broach with a loved one. Even though it is the third most common medical condition in the United States – affecting people of all ages – there is still some taboo surrounding it, especially when it comes to the aging process. On the other side, people who experience hearing loss may not be aware of it, because it happens gradually. Many people learn to adjust their behavior or avoid situations, or even blame others for “mumbling” rather than recognizing that they might have experienced changes in their hearing abilities.

With our loved ones, it may fall on us to talk to them about seeking treatment for a hearing loss. Here, we provide some tips for discussing this sensitive topic.

Research on Hearing Loss

With the internet at your fingertips, there are many resources available to learn more about the intricacies of hearing loss. National organizations such as the Hearing Loss Association of America and the American Speech Language Hearing Association provide copious amounts of information on the signs of hearing loss, the benefits of treating hearing loss, and the treatment options available.

Before sitting down with a loved one to discuss hearing loss, get in the know about the ins and outs of hearing loss. Having this research on hand could help encourage your loved one to take action.

Find a Quiet, Private Space

It’s important to keep in mind that hearing loss makes communication difficult. For many with untreated hearing loss, speech recognition is a great challenge, especially when conversations happen in noisy environments.

When sitting down with a loved one to discuss hearing loss, find a quiet place free of music or background noise. Even more, because it may be a sensitive subject, you may want to find a private space to have the discussion.

Focus on Your Experience with Your Loved One

It’s easy for people to get defensive or offended when it comes to a topic like hearing loss. For this reason, focus on your experiences with your loved one – rather than pointing out the changes in their behavior.

You may have grown frustrated from having to repeat yourself over and over again. You may feel that the loud volumes on the TV or the radio are harming your own hearing and that causes you some concern. In intimate relationships, a breakdown in communication could also cause an emotional rift. Talk about your own feelings about the state of your relationship and what can be done to improve the situation. Illustrating to your loved one how hearing loss affects you could be an impetus for them to take action.

Listen & Ask Questions

After you’ve said your part, give your loved one the opportunity to respond and share their own experiences. Chances are, they may have noticed the changes in their hearing and they may have frustrations of their own to vent. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, people wait an average of seven years from the time they first notice changes in their hearing abilities before seeking treatment.

Untreated hearing loss comes with a number of issues, such as an increased risk for anxiety, stress, depression, and fatigue. When the brain works overtime to struggle to hear and make sense of sound and communication, it does take a physical toll. Ask your loved one open-ended questions that could provide you with more information on their own experiences.

Encourage Your Loved One to Take a Hearing Test

When it comes to addressing hearing loss, the most important first step is to take a hearing test. Hearing tests may seem daunting, but they are a painless and quick procedure that requires very little on their part. At the Hearing Consultants, we offer comprehensive hearing tests to gauge the abilities of your loved one’s hearing.

Hearing test results are recorded in an audiogram, which gives a visual representation of hearing abilities by ear. If a hearing loss is detected, we’ll work with you to formulate the next steps. Offer your loved one support through this process and assure them that they do not have to go through it alone.

Visit Us at the Hearing Consultants

At the Hearing Consultants, we believe in reconnecting people to their loved ones and the sounds they love. To schedule a comprehensive hearing test and consultation, get in touch with our team today.

Improving Family Communication with Hearing Loss

Improving Family Communication with Hearing Loss

 

Hearing loss can be an isolating condition, especially if it is not addressed. As Helen Keller once said, “Blindness separates people from things, but deafness separates people from people.” The same might be said of hearing loss, which interferes with our ability to communicate with the people in our lives.

With hearing loss, speech recognition might become challenging. Some of the early signs of hearing loss include asking people to repeat themselves or believing that everyone around you is “mumbling.” For some forms of hearing loss, higher-frequency sounds are difficult to register, and thus, some people struggle with hearing higher-pitched voices.

It’s been said that hearing loss affects not just the person who has it – but the entire family. If you – or a loved one – experiences hearing loss, read on for ways to improve communication in the family.

Treat Hearing Loss with Hearing Aids

Here’s the most important thing to keep in mind about hearing loss: it is 100% treatable. Though there is no cure for hearing loss, it is treatable with the use of hearing aids. In treating hearing loss, you are already taking steps toward significantly improving hearing loss with your family members.

There are a number of negative consequences of leaving hearing loss untreated. For one, communication with your loved ones will suffer. Hearing loss interferes with how we recognize and process speech, and when this process is hindered, it could lead to misunderstandings and frustrations. When communication is the foundation of all healthy relationships, hearing loss could seriously undermine that.

If you or a family member exhibits signs of hearing loss, it is important to seek treatment. At Hearing Consultants, we will provide you with a comprehensive hearing test and fully customized hearing aid fitting.

Two Simple Rules for Family Communication

From Hearing Health, a leading organization on hearing loss, writer Suzanne Jones offers two simple rules for family communication: “If you are the speaker, it is your job to be sure what you’re saying is being heard and understood. If it isn’t, you need to fix it. If you are the listener, it’s your job to let the speaker know whether you’ve heard and understood.”

And – Jones adds – “Be nice to each other!” Hearing loss can be a frustrating condition, especially when we don’t feel heard. Keep in mind that no one is setting out to hurt anyone’s feelings – it’s just a matter of making sure that conversations and intentions are clear.

General Tips for Communication

For most of us with normal hearing, communication is woven so seamlessly into our daily activities that we may not stop to think twice or analyze about what happens in social interactions. Think for a moment about non-verbal ways we acknowledge that other people are listening to us and understanding what we’re saying. There’s nods, or sustained eye contact, or even verbal cues like, “Mm-hm” or “yeah.”

Pay attention when you’re communicating with a family member with hearing loss. People with untreated hearing loss, especially, have learned ways to “fake it” in conversations and social interactions. Just to make sure you’re on the same page, do a little check in: “So – just to recap – you’re going to pick up the dog at the vet, and I’ll grab the dog food on my way home.”

Another important thing is to make sure you’ve got their attention first before you start speaking. It’s easy to shout from across the house or just start talking while you’re in the same room, but the person with hearing loss might not be listening at that moment. You could gently touch their arm or shoulder to get their attention and make eye contact before you begin speaking.

When it comes to speaking, there are several different scenarios. People who have treated their hearing loss with hearing aids have a much easier time with conversation, thanks to advanced technological features that analyze and process speech sounds. If you’re communicating with a loved one using hearing aids, it’s just important to remember to speak clearly at your normal volume of voice. There’s no need to speak more loudly than usual. If you’re a fast speaker, take a few pauses so they can catch up.

For family members who may have untreated hearing loss, communication becomes more difficult. Again, the most important thing to do in this instance is to sit down with your loved one and have a frank discussion about seeking treatment for hearing loss. “Faking it” in conversations only goes so far – and hearing loss is a degenerative condition, meaning it worsens over time.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

Our team at Hearing Consultants is committed to reconnecting you to the sounds of your life and the voices of your loved ones. If you or a loved one has been experiencing changes in hearing, schedule a consultation with us today.

Tips for Enjoying the Holidays with Hearing Loss

Hearing Consultants - Tips for Enjoying the Holidays with Hearing Loss

Looking forward to the holiday season, we anticipate big gatherings, much to catch up with in lively conversations, and celebratory music. For your family members who experience hearing loss, the holidays prove to be a challenging hearing environment with all the sounds of festivities. There are ways you can support your family members during this time, to make sure that they feel connected and included. If you experience hearing loss yourself, there are also a few things you can do to make your holiday experience more enjoyable.

Understanding the Basics of Hearing Loss

For those of us who do not experience hearing loss, it’s important to understand a few things about the condition. With hearing loss, certain frequencies and sounds are difficult to understand, such as the voices of women and children. With hearing loss, speech recognition becomes difficult, especially in cross conversation against a lot of background noise. Another difficulty with hearing loss is competing noise. Hearing loss makes it difficult for people to discern and focus on specific sounds in challenging noise situations.

Good communication is key among family members during the holidays. Feel free to ask your family members who experience hearing loss how you can make their holiday seasons joyous and relaxing. If you experience a hearing loss, communicate your accommodation needs to your loved ones in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

Catching Up: Conversations & Speech Recognition

Holidays are a great time to catch up with our loved ones. When speaking to your loved one, make sure it is face-to-face and try to speak one person at a time – even though it might be difficult because everyone is excited to see one another! Speak at a pace that is even and normal – not unnaturally slow, of course – and speak clearly at a good volume, without running words together. People with hearing loss may hear muddled speech, so the clearer your diction, the better.

If you experience a hearing loss, position yourself in a way that makes it easier to have a conversation. Try to have a conversation off to the side in a small group – this is easier than being in big conversation. When seated at the dining table, try to get a seat with your back to a wall. If you sit at one of the ends, it may be easier to see everyone’s face, allowing you to read nonverbal cues.

Turn Down the Music

Who doesn’t love holiday music? Often times, we want music on to create a festive ambiance. Keep in mind that music blaring from speakers may hinder conversations your loved ones may have, and dial the volume down to a reasonable level. If the space is noisy, make sure you’ve got your family member’s attention before you speak; it could be as simple as a touch on the shoulder or elbow. With a lot of background noise, people who experience hearing loss may not be able to focus on all of the sounds in their environment, and may not hear you if you are behind them or off to the side.

If you experience hearing loss, ask your host to keep the volume down on the music. You could also suggest that they turn the speakers away from the guests, which still allows for those festive tunes but in a less direct and obtrusive way!

Streamlining Travel Plans

If your family member is hard of hearing and is planning to travel to see you, be prepared in advance and know their plans. Public transportation hubs and airports are particularly challenging noise environments for people who experience hearing loss, due to the large cavernous structures of transportation hubs as well as constant noise from vehicles, other travelers, and announcements on PA systems. Make sure you are in touch via text message, or that you have a clear plan for picking them up as they arrive, in case they cannot hear you on the phone.

If you experience a hearing loss, simple steps in preparation could make your travel plans so much easier. Make sure you have all of the supplies you need for your hearing devices, set your flight plans to text alert (just in case you cannot hear the schedule changes over the PA), and have everything printed up in hard copy.

Accommodating Family Activities

What’s better than gathering after a big dinner to play games, listen to music, or watch a movie as a family? If your family member treats their hearing loss with a hearing aid, ask them about the wireless connectivity capabilities of their devices. There are options for assistive listening devices (ALD) to amplify sound; if your family members are hard of hearing and visit you often, consider an ALD for the family room to assist with their listening experience.

If you have a hearing loss, your hearing aids may offer wireless connectivity options. Most hearing aids can be connected to home entertainment systems and electronic devices via Bluetooth, which delivers clear sound of media to the ears. If you are unsure, ask your hearing specialist at Hearing Consultants.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

In anticipation of the busy holiday season, schedule an appointment with us at Hearing Consultants. If you experience a hearing loss and use hearing aids, we’ll give your hearing aids a tune-up so you’re ready for the upcoming festivities. If you have been experiencing changes in your hearing, we’ll work with you to find a solution.