Posts

Paige Pierozynski

If Kate Spade and Tom Ford made hearing aids…

Would you want them? Would you wear them?

I’m typing this blog post looking through my Coach glasses in my comfy Michael Kors sweater feeling a little… miffed. I think miffed is the right word. (Miffed: put into an irritable mood, especially by an offending incident.) I feel like what I get up and do every day, what I love to do – isn’t cool.  

Welcome to 2016. A profound era where everything and everyone is trying to make us feel inadequate at every turn. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s we had fads of course, i.e. Starter Jackets, Reebok Pump and HyperColor Shirts. But we didn’t have The Kardashian’s telling us what’s cool and what’s not.

This got me thinking. If Tom Ford had his own brand of hearing aid, would it be cool to have them? Would hearing aids becomes sexy then?

If Apple created an iHear hearing aid, would you sleep outside my office to be the first of your friends to have one?

I get this profound feeling that YES! People would actually want to do something about their hearing loss and wear a hearing aid. I wouldn’t have to try to convince you that your quality of life would be improved significantly by hearing your loved ones loud and clear. You would want to wear hearing aids because its cool. Its trendy. Your friend Jill already has them and wears them at the gym, and they sync with her iPhone and let her know her heart rate.

Those with hearing loss would seek them out and that those without hearing loss would want to wear them anyways (just like its fun, personal and stylish to wear designer eyeglass frames without a need for vision correction).

Many people are under the understanding that hearing aids are the big squealing ugly beige machines that their grandpa keeps in the kitchen junk drawer. Hearing aids may just be the last ‘un-cool’ piece of technology out there. And there’s no reason for that really. Hearing loss is something that happens to a great many people, many of whom are infants, children, teenagers, young adults. Yet when you think of how hearing aids are perceived in our society, you think of Alma in the Sister Act movies (a la ‘Hey Alma! Check your battery!’). Hearing aids are a pain in the butt. I mean, you actually have to put them in your ears and that’s such a hassle. Ugh, the tiny batteries need to be changed once a week – who has time to do that when you also have to plug in your phone every night?

A quick Google search on simply ‘Hearing Aids’ brings us the webpages of AARP and The Mayo Clinic. Do another Google Search for eyeglasses and this comes up:

See what I’m talking about there? Vision correction is stylish, fashionable. There is no perceived stigma associated with vision correction anymore like Steve Urkel on Family Matters. It’s personalized. Hearing correction? It’s certainly not perceived that way – YET! The numbers are kind of astounding: 60% of the population has a treatable vision loss, while 20% of the population admits freely to hearing difficulty.

However, there’s another stat in here that you can’t see: The average person who has a hearing loss waits 7 years to treat it, i.e. those with hearing loss who are in denial and pretending to hear perfectly well are not a part of the aforementioned 20%. Grandpa, that’s you. I don’t mumble at all!

Again, the question begs… what do eyeglasses have that hearing aids do not? Why do Oakley, Nike and Calvin Klein not have a piece of the hearing aid pie? (Other than because there’s a technology involved, and an adjustment period to hearing aids at the brain level)

Because (despite it being very untrue) hearing aids are for old people and no one wants to accept that they are aging. Hearing aids are a nuisance. Hearing aids are ugly. Hearing loss carries a ‘less than’ stigma. No one deemed ‘cool’ by society wears hearing aids and if they do, they are beige and blend in, because – for shame! other people should see them!

Well, hear this! A Denmark based company with a Canadian presence called GN Resound is going where no hearing aid manufacturer has gone before. They’re trying to cap into that ‘allure’ of technology with the Linx²… they work with your iPhone and have an app, they are nano-coated and water resistant. The product is cool and hip and stylish. Except it isn’t. Because its still taking people 7 years to admit to their hearing loss and come in to see for themselves how the technology has improved.

Now, all that Resound needs is a George Clooney walking the red carpet with an Ocean Blue (see what I did there?) piece of technology sitting snugly behind his ears for all the word to see. For an Anderson Cooper to declare the Linx² the greatest in all the land. For a Taylor Swift to state unequivocally that hers were the inspiration for writing a new hit song.

Until that happens: You don’t want hearing aids. Heck – you don’t need them. You’re perfectly fine with society telling you that hearing loss makes you look old, feel old, that you lack in something because your hearing isn’t perfect. You don’t need to see the audiologist because you already know what he or she will say and you don’t think hearing aids can help you.

May is Better Speech & Hearing Month. Don’t be the statistic who waits 7 years to look seek improved communication with your loved ones. Come visit our Doctors of Audiology and finally turn that TV down. Imagine all the experiences that you’ll miss out on in those 7 years. It’s a long time. You wouldn’t go 7 years without seeing your loved ones properly, would you?

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The Holidays & Hearing Loss

For many people with hearing loss, the holidays can be especially challenging. While large family gatherings offer a great chance to catch up with friends and family, holiday parties can lead to challenging listening situations for people with hearing loss.

Here are some tips for people with hearing loss to better enjoy holiday gatherings from our friends at Widex.

Holidays and hearing loss: The tips

  1. Find a quiet corner – Stand away from loudspeakers and noisy kitchens and position yourself in the quietest area of the room. This way you can hear conversation rather than noise.
  2. Pick your seat – If you’re having a sit-down dinner, pick a seat at the center of the table nearest to a close friend or relative. This way you have a better chance of hearing conversation and enjoying your meal.
  3. Pick your drink – A glass of wine can make you more relaxed – or it can confuse you and make your level of understanding worse. Be aware of what you are drinking and your own level of tolerance.
  4. Buddy up – Find a friend or relative with whom you can hang out at the party. This person can help you to feel more included in conversation and can repeat things you may not understand.

Holidays and hearing aids

If you have hearing aids, it’s important that you wear them to holiday events. You may think that with so much noise at a party or family dinner, hearing aids would just make things louder, but modern digital hearing aids aren’t simple sound amplifiers. They are designed to filter out all the unwanted noise – like the clanging of dishes in the kitchen or the background music – and help you focus on speech.

Two hearing aid features in particular are put to work in crowds:

  • The Speech Enhancer – Widex hearing aids reduce noise by using a speech enhancer. This technology works to reduce background noise and helps you focus on what you need to hear.
  • Directional Microphones – Directional microphones work to reduce the amount of noise allowed to enter your hearing aids. In noisy environments, like at a holiday party, the system will work to pick up the least amount of noise.If the noise is located behind you, your directional microphones will adapt to pick up sound from in front of you and dampen noise from behind you. According to a 2004 study, directional microphones are proven to improve speech understanding in noise.

Have the “hearing loss” conversation

Holiday gatherings are a good time to have “the conversation” with friends and loved ones. We’re talking about the conversation about hearing loss and getting hearing aids. If you think your loved one is unable to hear correctly, take out your phone or tablet and encourage them to take an online hearing test. This is a great first step to help someone realize he has a hearing loss. And don’t forget, our complimentary hearing screening continues until January 15, 2016. 

Help guests with hearing loss

You might not have hearing loss – but one of your guests might. Here are some tips on helping your guests with hearing loss enjoy your party”

  • Background music – Everyone loves a good Christmas carol, but when those carols are in the background of the conversations of 20+ people, no one can hear them anyways. Consider turning down the background music – or turning it off completely when several guests are socializing at once. People tend to speak louder to be heard over the music, so your music may in fact make the party louder.
  • Dish Duty – Hold off on cleaning the dishes until after your guests have left. For people with hearing loss, the clatter of kitchen dishes can distract from dinnertime conversation. Take time to enjoy your guests rather than worrying about the clean-up!
  • Seating – If you know that one of your guests has a hearing loss, seat that person at the center of the table closest to those with the quietest voices. It may also help if you sit next to that person, so you can help him or her to better understand the conversation.

Please note that we are OPEN every day except Christmas Eve, Closed Christmas Day and on Monday December 28 for Boxing Day. Should you need our services this holiday, please do not hesitate to come on in or call us! 

We wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. ~Paige, Bernice & Melissa

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How to shop for hearing aids – the smart way!

We had the privilege of meeting a younger gentleman a while back who’s approach to hearing aid shopping was novel to us. We thought that it was ingenious – and thus, with his permission we are going to share a bit of his story with you.

Mr. X is a 12 year hearing aid wearer who called us to arrange a consultation. Not a hearing test. He simply wanted to meet our Doctors of Audiology and see our facilities. It seems that 12 years ago at his initial purchase he bought hearing aids where his family doctor was, and was never very happy with those services he received. The product he purchased and subsequent products he purchased over the years worked just fine, but the services he had received, to him, seemed lacking. He told us that he bought his hearing aids there because he felt his family doctor would be upset if he bought a set elsewhere – closer to home.

Mr. X visited us on a Tuesday, along with his wife and brought a copy of his most recent hearing test. He was open and honest that we were not the first clinic that he visited. He asked about our education, experience and what we recommended for him and his hearing loss. It would be a 25 minute drive from his home for him to visit us, but he’d been further.

Mr. X was not price shopping. He was Audiologist shopping: and we loved it. 

In Mr. X’s reasoning, only a few hundred dollars separate the costs of the hearing aids. But the quality of service is where he perceives his value. Cost and value: two very different concepts but often interchanged ideas.

COST: the price of something, the amount of money that is needed to pay for or buy something.

VALUE: the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. One’s judgment of what is important.

We want to encourage each and every reader to consider shopping for an Audiologist rather than a hearing aid. The right Audiologist will very often lead you to the right hearing aid for you. This day and age, we tend to get wrapped up in the cost of things, getting a good sale etc., but we don’t think so much of the value of the services that we receive along with those products. Don’t be tempted to price shop so much as to value shop. And when all else fails; we price match.

(Don’t forget! We are once again performing complimentary hearing screenings with our Doctors of Audiology in exchange for canned food donations!  Call Melissa today to arrange your appointment! (519) 961-9285!)

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The Hurdles to Getting Hearing Aids

A New York Times blog posted this morning struck a cord with us here at The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic. (Click here to read it.)

Jane Brody writes that

Hearing loss is usually gradual, and people often fail to recognize when it becomes severe enough to warrant hearing aids. Some deny that they have a problem, and instead accuse others of mumbling when they know people are talking but can’t understand what is being said. Still others regard hearing aids as unattractive devices that make them feel and look old in a society that prizes youthfulness.

We see this every day. Mostly those who could benefit from a hearing aid value their vanity over communication with family and friends.

What many people with hearing loss don’t realize is that the signs of the untreated hearing loss are more noticeable to others than hearing aids.

If you feel you are having trouble communicating or are isolating yourself socially because of your hearing trouble, give us a call. We would be happy to walk you over perceived hurdles. Our Doctors of Audiology are here to help. (519) 961-9285