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Adjusting to New Hearing Aids

So you’ve decided to get hearing aids. That’s great! Hearing aids are an important part of maintaining your best health and well-being, once hearing loss becomes an issue. While many people, unfortunately, wait too long to get hearing aids (the average is seven years after noticing hearing loss), addressing it now is much better than never. Your hearing aids will help keep you more active, more socially connected, and ultimately happier and healthier. Throughout life, we find that abrupt changes can take some getting used to. You can expect to experience a range of emotions while you’re adjusting to your new hearing aids, but having an idea of what to expect can make the process feel easier while you’re going through it.

It’s Almost Too Much Sound

Remember that once upon a time, you had normal, youthful, healthy hearing. It’s true that we hear just as much with our brains as we do with our ears! Many sounds you encountered on a regular basis simply faded into the background of your mind, as your brain decided they were unimportant. As hearing loss becomes an issue, our brains see less information coming from our ears and get used to processing information differently. When you start wearing hearing aids, you’ll notice things like the rustling of your clothing, the sound of your hair moving, the refrigerator buzzing or speakers hissing. You might notice the sounds of shoes on certain flooring surfaces, or the sounds of other people chewing. It may be annoying, at first, but if you stick with your hearing aids, soon enough you’ll be able to ignore these sounds without even thinking about it, while still being able to hear the sounds that are important to you.

Relearning to Hear Speech

If you’ve been living with hearing loss for some time, you might feel that hearing aids aren’t helping you to understand speech, at first. Though you’ll be able to hear speech clearly, it may be difficult to understand it. This is because our brains actually forget how to comprehend speech! While this can be disheartening at first, remember that the more you wear your hearing aids and encounter speech, the sooner you will regain the ability to understand clearly. Many hearing healthcare providers offer classes to help retrain the brain to understand speech again. Some group classes may happen in the office, but much of the course can be accomplished online. Remember that if you wear your hearing aids every day, you’ll soon become adjusted to them and be able to move confidently through your routines and engagements, knowing you can hear everything you need to hear.

Fitting Is an Ongoing Process

Your initial fitting is based on the results of your hearing test. While this should offer up the most accurate fitting for your specific hearing loss, it may be that you’re not ready for that much amplification, or that slight adjustments are necessary. Hearing aids are composed of tiny, sensitive parts, so it’s impossible for every hearing aid to be exactly like every other. While real ear measurements can help to ensure a more accurate fitting, remember that we hear just as much with our brains as with our ears! Your brain is what is adjusting to your hearing aids, and frequent fitting adjustments may be necessary over the first few weeks you have your hearing aids for you to adjust properly and comfortably. Especially if you experience pain in your ears while wearing your hearing aids, talk to your hearing healthcare provider about a fitting adjustment. Your relationship with your hearing healthcare provider should be ongoing to ensure you’re getting the best care possible with your hearing aids, so don’t be afraid to speak up and let them know that something doesn’t seem right!

Talk To Others Who Have Hearing Aids

You probably have an acquaintance, friend, or relative who wears hearing aids. Talk to them about what the adjustment process was like for them. They may have a good piece of advice, or it may just be nice to talk to someone who has experienced the same thing that you’re going through.

Fitting Will Likely Change Over Time

Make sure to get a hearing test at regular intervals. Hearing loss tends to progress for a while, then plateau, but there’s no way of knowing whether you’ve started wearing your hearing aids in the middle of the progression or at the end. Hearing aid fittings allow for easy adjustment, so if your hearing loss changes, your newly-required settings can be easily applied. Hearing aids are the best thing you can do to keep yourself in the conversation, and live every day to the fullest! Congratulations on your new hearing aids!
Tips for Driving with Hearing Aids

Tips for Driving with Hearing Aids

While sight might be the most important of the senses when it comes to driving, hearing is not far behind. We rely on hearing to alert us to sirens, horns, and other hazards that might be heard before seen. Hearing is also important in helping to determine when your own vehicle needs service, like when you notice a squealing belt, grinding brakes, or other worrisome sounds. It’s safe to say: the better you’re able to employ all of your senses while driving, the safer you’ll be on the road. Hearing aids are a great help to drivers who have some hearing loss, but it’s important to use them correctly to get the most out of them.  Let’s take a look at some of the things to keep in mind while you’re driving with hearing aids.

Be Prepared!

Driving with hearing aids takes just a bit of forethought before hopping behind the wheel. Before driving, make sure your hearing aids have enough power to get you through the trip you’re about to take. Bring extra batteries. If your hearing aids are rechargeable, make sure you have a way to charge them in the car if necessary. Check your settings! Do you have a special program for driving? If so, make sure your hearing aids are set to it. Be sure to check your volume, as well. If it’s too loud, you might end up encountering feedback while driving, which could present a pretty serious distraction. Make sure to set everything up beforehand so you don’t have to change programs or pull microphones out of a glove box while you’re driving.

Listen Preventatively

Before putting the car in gear, remove any distractions and listen to the car run for a moment. If you hear anything amiss with the engine idle, schedule a repair. Make sure your radio isn’t set so loud that you won’t be able to hear enough sound from outside the vehicle. Some intersections will present difficulty in terms of seeing cross traffic or even hearing it, so move carefully and listen attentively in those situations.

Minimize Distractions

This is important for all drivers, but it’s worth bearing in mind when you’re wearing hearing aids, just as much. If you’re distracted by noisy passengers, it’s always appropriate to ask them to keep their voices down. If they’re controlling the stereo or playing media on other devices, you should make sure it’s not distracting to you while you’re driving. Cars, especially older ones, let a lot of road noise into the cabin. This can compete with people’s voices in the cabin, creating fatigue as you struggle to hear speech over the din. While hearing aid programming can help with this, it might be beneficial to use an accessory microphone so that your travel companion can speak clearly into the microphone and reduce the strain on your ears.

Use Visual Aids

Wide rear view mirrors and other accessories can help you stay more visually attuned to the road. If you’re shopping for a car, try to pick one with smaller pillars so you have fewer blind spots. And, of course, remember to keep lines of sight open. Keep objects off the dashboard and out of the rear view area, and keep your windows clean! Clear lines of sight can make all the difference in traveling safely to your destination, so be sure to go out of your way to set yourself up for success in that department. If you think you may have a hearing loss, hearing aids are the best way to make sure you can keep your independence behind the wheel. Many hearing aids today even help you to determine where sounds are coming from, which was unthought of with previous generations of hearing aids! If you’re in the market for hearing aids, make sure to tell your hearing healthcare professional whether driving is important to you. They’ll be able to help you choose the hearing aid model that will be of most help to you while driving, and can even create a program for driving that will zero in on the best types of hearing aid features to employ while you’re behind the wheel. If you need hearing aids, make an appointment for a hearing test today and find out what hearing aids can do to keep you active and independent!
Encouraging a Loved One to Take a Hearing Test

Encouraging a Loved One to Take a Hearing Test

Encouraging a Loved One to Take a Hearing Test If you have noticed that a loved one has been struggling to hear, it can be difficult or frustrating for them as well as the people around them. While there is incredible hearing technology that can more or less solve the problem for most people, some are resistant. If you have a loved one who was once better connected to the world, you might be wondering what you can do to help them see just how much they can benefit from the latest in hearing technology!

Research the Facts

There is a wealth of information online about hearing loss and hearing aids. While you’ll find plenty of information about the increased risk of loneliness, depression, cognitive decline and dementia, we suggest you focus on the positives! There are many technological options out there that can improve your loved one’s life, rather than simply prevent negative outcomes. For example, did you know that 95% of people who get hearing aids report being satisfied with them, when asked after one year? They also report overwhelmingly that hearing aids have improved their social relationships, and their relationships with spouses and loved ones. They say that the memory trouble they had before they got hearing aids subsided once they started wearing them, and they even have a greater sense of optimism about themselves and the world in general! Hearing aids allow us to feel safe going out in the world, and so people who wear them tend to get more exercise and spend more time outdoors. The list goes on! Being able to point to some of these facts when you sit down with your loved one might help them see how they can open up to the idea that hearing aids will be an enjoyable part of life!

Pick a Good Time and Place

If your loved one is struggling with untreated hearing loss, trying to have a conversation about it in a crowded, noisy space might not be a good idea. Hearing loss is distracting and exhausting, and you want to have a successful conversation, not wear them out! Pay attention to a few key things to help them focus on the conversation with as little strain as possible. Choose a quiet place for the meeting, whether it’s your house or a quieter public space. Any background sound will make things more difficult, so try to seat yourselves away from air conditioning units, buzzing refrigerators, background music or televisions, or any other noise sources. Sit facing each other. As hearing loss sets in, people start to read lips, and speaking directly toward them will help them catch more of what you’re saying, both visually and audibly. Make sure the area is well-lit.

Talk About Your Experiences

Couples therapists often instruct their clients to make “I” statements. That is, instead of making statements that might put your loved one on the defensive, such as “You always…” or “You never…”, it could be more productive to rephrase and speak about your experiences. For example, you could say “I’ve noticed that when we watch TV, the volume is very high.” You might mention to your loved one about the ways you have been affected, such as “When the volume is very high, I am unable to enjoy the movie.” If there have been times where hearing loss caused a problem, you can mention it, but keep the discussion focused on yourself and your experience, rather than telling them about what they’re doing. The idea is to get them to open up to the possibility that hearing aids will help them live more easily, not to shame them into relenting.

Listen to Them

It’s likely that your loved one has noticed a change and is dealing with some fear and anxiety about it. They may appreciate the opportunity to talk about what the experience is like for them, once it’s been established that they are safe to discuss it with you. Let them talk without interrupting or correcting them. Try to ask open-ended questions about what’s been going on and how they’re adjusting.

Offer Support and Encouragement

Hearing loss is frequently an isolating experience, making us feel cut off from those around us. Your loved one is likely to appreciate that you cared enough to sit down with them and let them speak about these changes in their life. You can offer to accompany or drive them to a hearing test, and tell them you’re there to support them in any way you can. The hearing test is the first step to getting a set of hearing aids and being able to hear the world again! This could be an exciting step for your loved one that allows them to participate in conversation freely once again, and enjoy the benefits of hearing that they once knew. Helping someone to improve their life is what we’re all about, and we’re here to help when you’re ready!
The Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss

The Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is one of the most common problems facing Americans today, but it doesn’t have to be. When we wake up in the morning and start our day, we want to feel good, capable, and ready for what may come, and that’s exactly what hearing aids are all about! We might have a little trouble hearing what people are saying when there’s some background noise. We might notice ourselves getting tired earlier in social situations. We might even start to feel less excited about going out and meeting people. Hearing aids are the best way to get back into life feet-first and live every day to the fullest.

People Who Use Hearing Aids Enjoy Life More

It’s true! About 95% of people who get hearing aids say they are glad they did, when asked after one year. Surveys show that people who wear hearing aids are more active, spend more time out of doors, and get more exercise than those who don’t treat their hearing loss. They say they feel better about themselves and more optimistic about the future. Amazingly, they even report a greater sense of optimism about future generations, and the world in general. These are all signs that point to one thing: hearing aids help us enjoy life more!

Strengthen Your Relationships

Hearing difficulties can begin to strain relationships, especially with those closest to us. Getting hearing aids keeps us in the conversation and lets us be there for those we love, just as they’re there for us. Studies find that over half of people who start wearing hearing aids notice improvements in their relationships. That’s because hearing aids make conversation easier, and let us carry on with all the little interactions that brighten our days and grow our intimacy. It’s not just the big conversations that are meaningful to us, but all the little times we joke around and have fun together. Hearing aids help keep us close to those we love!

Enhance Your Memory

People commonly report that when hearing loss starts to become an issue, they notice themselves having memory issues, too. With hearing loss, we need to use our whole brains to figure out what someone just said, and by the time we have it they’re already on to saying something else! That extra work can make it harder to get things into our memories. Hearing aids make conversation as easy as pie, so our brains are free to think more clearly and remember more easily.

Free to Roam

We’re used to hearing so many things: the doorbell, traffic, ambulances and fire engines, phones ringing, the list goes on. When we regain access to these sounds, our daily activities can be more expansive. Hearing aids bring the sounds of the world back to us, so we can stay alert to the things we need to hear, so we can stay independent, mobile, and safe. And as an added bonus, we get to enjoy hearing the birds sing again!

Modern Marvels

Often when we think of hearing aids, we imagine the old, tan, whistling units of decades past. Thanks to improvements in computing and battery technology, today’s hearing aids are more powerful than we could have imagined, while also being small enough to disappear into your ear canal! In addition to offering better sound quality, many modern hearing aids can help with sound directionality, to make sounds in front of you louder than those coming from behind. They can reduce the sound of background noise while accentuating the sound of speech, which can make speech recognition in noisy environments better than that of a normal-hearing person. Some even offer multiple microphone and speaker setups, so the world of sound around you is as three-dimensional and full as that of a normal-hearing 20-year-old. Most of today’s hearing aids can be controlled by smartphone apps, many of which will even allow us to adjust your fitment long-distance, so you won’t need to return to the office every time you need to make a change. You can even take a hearing test at home, through your hearing aids, to see if they need an adjustment. It’s never been easier or more valuable to start living your life to the fullest. Make an appointment with us today and learn more about how you can benefit from the amazing technology available today.
Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss

Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss

About 48 million Americans suffer from some type of hearing loss, with even as many as 20% of teenagers having measurable hearing loss in one or both ears. Life is getting louder, and it’s taking a toll on our hearing ability. New evidence also suggests the typical American diet may be playing a role in the high degree of age-related hearing loss we see today. Indeed, about one–third of people age 65–74 have hearing loss. Over age 75, about 50% of people have it. And nearly 100% of centenarians have it, suggesting that if we live long enough, we will all have hearing loss eventually.

Age-Related Hearing Loss

Age-related hearing loss is a name given to sensorineural hearing loss that seems to occur and worsen as a person enters old age. It can begin as early as age 45, but usually doesn’t become problematic until after age 60 or so. Because there is such a long period when age-related hearing loss progresses before becoming bad enough to require the use of hearing aids, it’s recommended to get your hearing tested regularly in order to catch it early. Lifestyle changes like more frequent use of hearing protection, altered diet, and quitting smoking may be able to stop or slow the progress of age-related hearing loss.

Frequent Hearing Tests are Recommended

The non-profit Better Hearing Institute recommends getting a hearing test once a decade until age 50, and once every 3 years after that. People who work in loud environments or who work in critical listening fields (such as musicians and sound engineers) ought to be tested more frequently than the general population. Getting a hearing test is the best way to keep track of your hearing health, and to know for sure when you have a hearing loss and could benefit from the assistance of hearing aids.

Signs You May Have Hearing Loss

The first sign that we have hearing loss is usually that someone else tells us we do. While this can be hard to swallow, the fact of the matter is that hearing loss is hard for us to identify ourselves. We don’t hear what we don’t hear, so if someone else is noticing a sound in the environment that we aren’t able to hear, it’s a likely sign that we have a hearing loss. The first time that we notice hearing loss on our own is usually in a group situation with lots of background noise. Competing sounds in a bar or restaurant are especially difficult for those with hearing loss to differentiate, and we will notice ourselves needing to ask repeatedly for clarification, and likely becoming fatigued earlier than usual. The fatigue associated with hearing loss will soon become familiar. Nearly every social engagement will tax our minds more than it used to, as our ears do less work for us and our brains need to pick up the slack, putting together context clues and sentence fragments to try to parse out coherent thoughts. Some people mistake this exhaustion for being a separate age-related condition, when in fact a set of hearing aids would allow them to participate comfortably in social engagements as they once did. Other signs that you may have hearing loss include:
  • Increasing the volume on the TV or radio (someone else in the house may ask you to turn it down)
  • Believing that others are mumbling a lot of the time
  • Difficulty talking on the phone
  • Sleeping through an alarm clock
  • Trouble understanding dialogue at the movies

Untreated Hearing Loss Has Consequences

Unfortunately, untreated hearing loss often leads to a decreased interest in social activity. People who don’t get hearing aids begin to shy away from spending time with other people, often because of embarrassment about how difficult it has become for them to follow a conversation. With this decreased social activity comes less physical activity in general, and less time outdoors. Memory troubles typically begin around this phase, as well. Indeed, the consequences of failing to treat hearing loss seem to be a cascade of negative outcomes for health and well-being.

Hearing Aids Can Help

If you think you might be suffering hearing loss, or you’re just due for a hearing test, make an appointment today. The sooner you start keeping track of your hearing health, the sooner you can start working to prevent or counteract the problems that accompany untreated hearing loss and keep hearing and feeling your best!

Pueblo, Colorado