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|Posted by Angela Graves, AuD on February 12, 2021 at 2:50 PM||comments ()|
Spoiler: Some might call this a political post. But, I promise this is not a rant. It’s a concern I’d like to share.
While speaking with a very dear friend of mine, the topic of socialized medicine came up. She is very much in favor of such a method of distribution for health care. She fully believes that every person is deserving of a healthy life and needs a guarantee of access to the professionals who deliver that care. I do not disagree that every life is valuable and each deserves care that affords health and comfort. But, I also love what I do and feel I provide the very best care for my clients. Should socialized medicine be our new distribution method of care, I would lose my practice. When I voiced this concern she responded that I could just go get a job in the hospital. I could still work. Still earn a living. I just wouldn’t be my own boss.
I was extremely hurt by her callous disregard of my career, my life’s work, and my dreams of a better way to provide audiological care. But, the topic of this blog is not my hurt feelings. The topic of this blog is the insult she gave not only to me but to my clients as well. I’ve worked in hospitals before. Hospitals have a process. It’s an “if-then” process. You’ve all been there. You’ve all walked through it. When a person goes into the hospital, there is an illness and there needs to be a cure. This is something that people want right now! Tylenol lowers a fever. That’s how it works.
Audiological care in a hospital is treated the same way. Testing is done. Hearing aids are fit. Client is sent home. Hearing loss cured. But, that’s not how hearing impairment works. It’s not a one and done. It’s not something that can be tested, diagnosed, and treated in 30 minutes. This thing that I do is more about relationships, communication, self-esteem, and quality of life than about doing a test and putting a gadget in an ear. My clients have come to expect being treated like actual people with actual problems they want to solve. Actual problems take time to define, discuss, and find the right solution. There are a lot of hearing aids on the market. If a hearing aid is the answer… which one? Which program? Which listening situations need what kind of amplification? Why does it make a difference?
I had an interview with a very busy hearing aid dispenser some years ago who fit one model of hearing aid on every one of his clients. Every single one. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that everybody could be fit with the same hearing aid. It made it very easy for him because he only needed to learn to program one device. It was “a solid workhorse, and that’s all anybody needs”. He kept that device on the shelf and sold them immediately after the hearing test. I left the interview seething. Who was he to determine through his own inability to learn anything new that EVERYBODY was the same? Everybody is NOT the same! Everybody has different listening needs, different sound quality preferences, different tolerance levels, different things that make them happy or angry or nervous or content. Everybody cannot wear the same hearing aid. But he didn’t take the time to get to know the people or their needs. How was he so busy? He contracted with insurance companies with exclusive rights. He was the only preferred provider offered. The people who wanted to use their insurance benefits had no other choice. Sweet gig for him. And, I could have been part of that. Except I disagree with every aspect of the way he does business.
I have a fear that when medical care becomes a processed commodity, people will start to feel like a number, like cattle being herded through a chute. Every aspect of individualized personal care will become simply a pleasant, but distant memory. Although this might be a more cost effective way to deliver hearing care, it would be like trading away color because there is no useful value in art…
|Posted by Angela Graves, AuD on April 22, 2020 at 3:55 PM||comments ()|
I find the cover story in the March issue of "The Hearing Reveiw" -- Well-Hearing is Well-Being - to be well timed. Let's start with this excerpt.
"The complexity of hearing loss also relates to its impact. Hearing is in many ways a social sense, and hearing loss can have a fundamental impact on communication with others and connecting to them. Hearing is also an emotional sense, and hearing loss can change how we enjoy social gatherings, theater, music, and how we perceive emotions. Hearing loss can also affect the ability to monitor changes in the acoustical environment, potentially impacting a sense of safety or security. In other words, hearing loss can have an impact on what we intuitively would refer to as “well-being”.
These three areas of well-being are very much in our world today.
Social sense: As we get further into this quarantine, we may long for the connections we had in February. We are frustrated that we aren’t able to enjoy dinner and a movie. It becomes more difficult to remember what it was like to laugh around a table together. Hearing impaired individuals are very often in “lockdown” mode most of the time. When people are talking around them and they cannot keep up with what’s been said, they very often withdraw. They become more socially distant than is really good for their mental health. Hearing loss does not change the way we look. It does change the way we think and feel.
Which brings us to the emotional sense. Being disconnected from our people makes us feel abandoned. It takes away our sense of purpose. It changes the way we interact with complete strangers. We revert to a less friendly, less trusting, nature. Just today, my friend Caitlin told me of a terrible experience she had at a fast food restaurant. She had never been treated in that fashion at the restaurant before. The server probably has no history of that type of behavior. But, we are in unprecedented times. We do not know how to coexist in such a climate. We are social beings and we are being told to limit our socialization. Too much time alone can change our social skills and behaviors. It makes us more paranoid. Untreated hearing loss disconnects people as well. It forces them to be less social than they were designed to be. It makes them lonely and changes their behavior. It keeps them isolated from their surroundings. It makes their world very small.
A small world gives us a sense of safety. Right? In our much smaller quarantined worlds we have seen a rise in depression, divorce, and domestic abuse. It doesn’t seem as though the world we know is safer. We are looking around corners. We are wondering what the next thing is going to be and how we should prepare for it. Studies have shown these same sorts of worries plague the hearing impaired in the form of: What did I just say yes to? Why isn’t my alarm system working? What need am I missing because I can’t hear? Why is my medicine not correcting the issues?
Treating hearing loss sooner keeps a sense of well being intact. It prevents many of these social, emotional, and safety issues from occurring. Treating hearing loss later helps to mitigate some of the behavioral changes that have already occurred. I like a sooner rather than later approach because keeping well-being is much better than chasing it.
Give us a call at 812-303-4300 if your well-being is worth keeping.
|Posted by Angela Graves, AuD on April 6, 2020 at 4:30 PM||comments ()|
With COVID-19 on every TV, laptop, and smart phone we are warned on every side to stay home and stay safe. While this mandate is keeping us from contracting an illness that as of yet has no known cure, it is exposing us to another illness that does have a known and effective cure. That illness is social isolation which leads to depression. Have you felt the effects? Wishing you could get out of the house? Looking for something to do? Wanting someone to talk to? My mom has started calling people from her church just so nobody feels too terribly alone. This is a great idea! I think staying home and staying safe is good. I think it is bringing back phone conversation, dinner around the table, and meaningful family interaction at home. All that is good.
It’s also giving folks with normal hearing a bit of a taste of what our elderly hearing-impaired loved ones feel every day. They would love to get out of the house but can’t because of mobility issues. They would love to have something to do, but they are alone and have cleaned the house as many times as they can. They would love to have someone to talk to, but their hearing is such that the phone is not a good option. The TV and laptop are just so frustrating they might as well not even be turned on. No news is better than bad news. This social isolation we are feeling as the “new normal” is old hat to those with hearing loss.
Hearing loss…that sounds so innocuous. What’s really lost is communication, relationships, independence, freedom. Hmm… that sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Hearing is essential. Please learn something from this Social Distancing experiment we are going through right now. This inconvenience we are dealing with today is a temporary lifestyle change for us. For folks with untreated hearing loss, it is not temporary and it’s more than just an inconvenience. It is socially isolating. It causes depression and loneliness. It causes loss of identity. It defines a person. It confines a person to a role they do not belong in. If you know someone with untreated hearing loss, make a point to reach out to them during this time of forced aloneness. Send them a card, it’s old fashioned but it works. Stop by the house and write messages to share through the window. Call them and speak clearly in a voice loud enough to be heard. Don’t lose your patience and don’t sigh. That always sounds like you are being bothered. No one really wants to be a bother.
If you know someone with hearing aids and they can’t get out to have them serviced, pick up the aids for them and bring them in to have them cleaned. We are taking precautions. We are here to help keep people healthy. Hearing healthcare is health care. Contrary to popular belief, hearing is not a luxury. It keeps people sane. During these crazy times, let’s all do our part to keep people mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy.
|Posted by Angela Graves, AuD on February 26, 2020 at 11:15 AM||comments ()|
I promise this is not a New Year’s Resolution rehash, but I am going to talk about exercise. We all know that exercise makes us feel better (when we sit down to rest). It gets our blood pumping. It gets our lungs working more effectively. It super-charges our brain chemistry. It makes our clothes fit better. It improves our posture. The list of good things exercise does for us just seems to go on and on. If we could just get up and do it… (Not a Nike reference.)
So, how does all this fit in with hearing? Good question! Hear’s what the latest research is turning up. (Two hearing related puns in one sentence!) Dr. Nina Kraus out of Northwestern University has discovered athletes have better speech processing abilities than age and gender related non-athlete control subjects. What that means to all of us with hearing loss and difficulty understanding speech in background noise is that some physical activity might very well help us to improve the processing centers in the brain that are related to speech understanding!
Athletes are very focused on the task at hand. They are striving to perfect one aspect at a time. This takes away from their extended focus on what is going on around them. Speech in noise … the athlete is able to focus on the speech and ignore what’s going on in the background better than their non-athletic counterparts. This is not something they learn. It is something that happens due to the way their brains work. I’m not saying we all need to become professional basketball players, but it might not hurt to take a walk. Maybe I’ll go to the gym tonight and see what they have going on over there.
|Posted by Angela Graves, AuD on January 31, 2020 at 4:00 PM||comments ()|
You’re going to start seeing a lot of advertisements about Other-the-Counter (OTC) hearing aids. The federal government introduced a law in 2015, passed it in 2017, and put it in effect in 2020 that allows hearing aid to be sold directly to consumers without the “inconvenience” of having to see a professional for a hearing test. It “eliminates unnecessary visits” for individualized care, programming, and maintenance. It gives consumers “control of their own hearing care.”
In reality, it allows more internet companies to sell devices without ever meeting a client or patient. It allows the convenience of putting a purchase on a credit card from the comfort of your own home. It eliminates proper instruction on, and preventative care that extends the life of, your hearing aid investment. It gives control to the device being purchased.
Dr. Larry Humes and his team at Indiana University invited 60 self-identified mild to moderately hearing impaired individuals to participate in a study. The participants were provided with full written descriptions of five different hearing aids. The overwhelming majority of the people chose their device based on power output listed on the specification sheets. Over half chose a device that produced 125dB. Note of them knew the threshold of pain in the human ear is 120dB! This is just one example of why the hearing test is not an “inconvenience”.
As we head into this new decade, please remember that although the internet is a great tool and resource it is not a replacement for proven care and human connection. If you see an offer and wonder if it is genuine, don’t hesitate to call 812-303-4300 to ask. By the way, none of the study participants were fit with the 125dB output devices. All were counseled by professionals toward a more appropriate device.
|Posted by Angela Graves, AuD on December 6, 2019 at 3:50 PM||comments ()|
The holidays are upon us. It seems impossible that it’s time for all the hullabaloo again. Don’t get me wrong, I love hullabaloo! But, it’s not that much fun for everyone. All the noise… all the activity… all the TV’s on all day long… This can really be taxing on those with hearing impairment.
In all the movement, you will see at least one person sitting alone, out of the way, out of the action. When you see that relative sitting alone, not enjoying him/herself at all, please don’t immediately assume you have a hermit in your midst who would prefer to be alone. Rather, ask yourself if you might be looking at hearing impairment stealing the joy of the day from a loved one. Make the effort to go into the side room and talk in a quiet background that is not so demanding a listening environment.
Look at the person you are talking with, make eye contact. This shows respect and interest and will undoubtedly add layers to your understanding of this person who is part of your heritage. Also, many hearing-impaired individuals rely on lipreading even if they don’t know it. Visual distractions, like a dozen little ones darting around the tables, make lipreading much more difficult. While talking around the table can be lively and entertaining, one on one conversation builds relationships reminding the “loner” that he/she is a valued part of the family.
It is very disheartening to be left out of the festivities because of a handicap. Make no mistake, hearing loss is a handicap. It’s an invisible handicap. Hearing impaired people look like everybody else. They have always lived like everyone else, and they do NOT want that to change. Nobody asks to be hearing impaired. And, although our industrialized nation does offer unlimited opportunity to become hearing impaired, no single individual is to blame for their hearing loss. Too many times family gives up on trying to talk to gramma because it’s just SO much work. Take a moment and look at the situation through gramma’s eyes.
She used to be the one in the middle of the madness. She used to be the one chasing the little ones. She used to be the one comforting the injured. She used to be the one helping to solve life’s crises. She used to be the one rocking the babies to sleep. She used to be the one laughing and carrying on and have a jolly good time. She used to live. Please don’t leave her alone to think about the “used to be’s”. Help everyone to have “Happy Holidays”!
|Posted by Angela Graves, AuD on October 16, 2019 at 3:40 PM||comments ()|
We were reminded quite abruptly this week that winter is just around the corner. I like winter well enough. I actually missed it when I lived in Southern California. This is the time of year we look around the house and start winterizing. The garden hose has to be hung up. Storm windows replace screens. And, flower beds need to be cleared out. What does any of this have to do with hearing aids? Nothing really. But winter does bring some considerations for hearing aids that other seasons don’t.
Condensation! It’s cold outside. When we wear our hearing aids outside, they get cold. When we comeback in, they warm up fast.
1) Condensation in the tubing will form a bead of water where the tube bends at the mold. This bead of water will block any sound from getting into the ear canal. If your BTE hearing aids stops working when you come in from the cold, look for that bead of water and tap the mold on a tissue till the bead falls out.
2) If the condensation is on the battery, the moisture will lead to corrosion in the battery compartment. It will then work back into the circuitry. Corrosion in the hearing aid will destroy it. If your glasses fog up when you come in, just assume the battery has condensation as well. Open the battery doors and dry off the batteries.
3) Sweat is still a factor. Shoveling the walk is hard work! Your hearing aid will get wet from perspiration in the winter just like in the summer. Unlike in the summer, when you take your hat off to wipe your brow the cold air against the wet hearing aids may chill down so quickly that the sweat turns into a skim of frost on the hearing aids. When you come in you need to dry the hearing aids.
4) Spending a great deal of time outside in the winter tends to make the ends of our fingers and toes and ears and nose lose a little bit of feeling. Use extra caution when taking off a hat or scarf. You don’t want to knock the hearing aids off and not know it. Yes, we have L&D coverage, but I’d rather not use it if we don’t have to.
5) And, don’t forget to build a snowman. Make snow angels with your kiddos. Drink hot cocoa from a thermos. Live each day to the fullest.
Send us a picture of your Winter Wonderland creations. We’d love to share them on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/hearbetterevansville.
|Posted by Angela Graves, AuD on September 11, 2019 at 11:55 AM||comments ()|
National Suicide Awareness Week is in September. So, let me tell you a story. It’s not a happy story but it could very well have a happy ending.
Over the past several months I have heard too many elderly people say something like, “I might as well be dead. I’m not much good anymore. I can’t hear. I’m a bother to my family. I remember how annoyed I got at my mom/dad/grampa when I had to repeat for them. I don’t want to be annoying like that.” How sad does a person have to be to make that comment? And, where does that attitude come from? Does it come from how they are treated? Or, how they perceive they are being treated? Or, from guilt they haven’t quite gotten over (or forgiven themselves)? How do we even talk to our loved ones about this?
Let’s start by asking them to repeat something for us. Tell us a story. Tell us about their favorite Labor Day celebration. Then, listen. Really listen to the story. Ask for details. Make the story alive. Laugh with them. If appropriate, cry with them. Remember with them back to the days when they were not old and “a bother” to the family. Keep in mind that you too will one day get older. How do you want to be seen, treated, remembered?
I think about my Grampa Graves. He served in WWII. He was a strong man who had left his young family at home to serve his country. He was tough. He defied (with actions that made his wishes crystal clear) the surgeons who wanted to take his feet from him after they cut his rotten boots off. He kept his feet. We were going to write a book. He had stories to tell. But I didn’t have the time to listen and ask for details and write them down. I lost my Grampa over 25 years ago. How I wish I had taken the time!
During this month of awareness, be aware of how your loved ones feel. Especially, spend some time with grandparents, parents, friends from school who might not have a lot of interaction otherwise. Help each family member feel worthwhile. Everyone needs a purpose.
If you need specific tools to help you communicate, don’t hesitate to call us at (812) 303-4300. I’d be happy to talk to you about listening.
|Posted by Angela Graves, AuD on August 19, 2019 at 4:20 PM||comments ()|
A lot has changed since the “big beige bananas” of the 60’s and 70’s. Technology is obviously the biggest driver behind this change in our modern world. The first patent was issued in 1792. In 1915 the number of patents issued reached 1 million. The electric motor ushered in patent number 2 million in 1940. By 1965 the semiconductor helped boost the number to 3 million. We passed 4 million in 1982, and 5 million in 1992. Today we have crossed the 10 million mark. This technology race shows no signs of slowing.
We have opportunities for better, richer, fuller lives than ever before. On the topic of hearing, we don’t have to wait till we are dangerously hearing impaired before we seek help for a loss. Now, we can correct mild loss (and major frustration) without sacrificing comfort, clarity, or vanity. In our industrialized society noise is the number one cause of hearing loss. OSHA has plenty of safeguards in the workplace to protect hearing. Apple has warnings on their products to remind users to “turn it to the left”. However, people don’t always follow rules or suggestions. Many young people today (and always, really) believe it can’t happen to them. That sense of immortality has a way of catching up with us later. So, by age 35 many people have some diagnostically significant hearing loss in the high frequencies. This interferes with speech understanding, not volume. It makes other people “mumble”. It makes dinner meetings frustrating and tiring. It makes the demands on our busy life more aggravating than they need to be.
Introducing the Styletto Connect… It is a fully functional, digitally programmable, lithium-ion rechargeable, iPhone compatible, eminently wearable hearing aid of today! This device has 141 years of technological development behind it. Signia (formerly Siemens) dipped their toes in the water of improving hearing in 1878. (That’s over 9 million patents ago.) They thought then and we know now that better hearing reduces stress and anxiety, which improves productivity and growth. We also know that most people wait an average of 7 years after they know they have a hearing loss to do anything about it. Why?! We are working longer. We are staying active well into retirement. Many people in their 50’s and 60’s are taking care of parents and/or grandchildren which leads to an incredibly demanding lifestyle. Why let hearing loss add to the list of demands? Why not stay at the top of your game! Come in a take a closer look at the Styletto Connect.
Call and reserve your demo appointment today. (812) 303-4300.
|Posted by Angela Graves, AuD on July 15, 2019 at 3:25 PM||comments ()|
How many settings are on your dryer? Go look. I’ll wait. My dryer is not a fancy machine and it has 21 different drying options. 21! There is even a setting for jeans. My dryer ought to be able to handle drying most anything. There are eight choices on my blender. From food processing to chipping ice, my blender can get the job done! My phone can do things I don’t even know enough to ask it to do. Suffice it to say, tools and appliances today are not simply “one trick ponies”.
Enter the modern hearing aid.
Top end model hearing aids have six or seven automatic programs and room for an additional four to six manual programs. Why on earth would we need so many programs?! We live in a very noisy, active, connected world and that world has very specific demands. Some examples of listening environments an automatic program might not be able to handle well: the bowling alley, live music, a reception hall, working at a childcare center, or media streaming from a mobile device. Our mid-level products have five automatics and three or four manual program slots. Even our entry level devices have four manual programs available.
So, what’s the point to this blog?! The tools are good if we know how to use them. I’ll never get my jeans dry if I put them in the dryer on the delicate cycle, but I can’t blame the dryer for that. There are many good hearing aids out there with lots of potential that just isn’t being utilized. If people don’t know what they have, or how to use it, the device will never function as intended or do the job needed. Then the hearing aid gets a bad rep and thrown in the drawer.
Rescue that hearing aid. Learn what it can do. Have it programmed, if possible, and get it back in the ear where it so wants to be! Give us a call at 1-812-303-4300 and we’ll help you do that.