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Does your spouse suffer from Hearing Loss? It can damage your relationship!

So, you shout your question, but they don’t answer. You ask again, louder this time, and they still don’t reply. Then you really raise your voice, and their response isn’t exactly what you expected. “Why are you yelling at me?! What’s your problem?”

Does this sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone.

How many people suffer from hearing loss?

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, more than 48 million Americans suffer from some form of hearing loss. But here’s the good news: About 29 million U.S. adults could probably use hearing aids to improve their hearing.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, only 1 in 4 people who need hearing aids actually bother to wear them.

These are just broad strokes that paint the overall picture of hearing loss in America — the details are even more surprising:

— 50% of people older than 75 have some degree of hearing loss.

— 25% of people between 65 and 75 have some degree of hearing loss.

— 1 in 5 American teenagers suffer from a hearing issue.

What can we tell from those numbers? Hearing loss isn’t a problem only for the elderly. It can be an issue for any couple, no matter their age.

How does hearing loss affect relationships?

Hearing loss has been called the silent killer of relationships, and rightfully so. No one likes to be shouted at, and no one wants to ask someone to repeat themselves over and over again.

As a result, people suffering from hearing loss often begin to isolate themselves from their friends and family without even realizing it. They may think they’re doing everyone else a favor. This can have a huge impact on most people’s marriages.

In fact, according to a study conducted by The ASHA Leader, 35% of participants reported that hearing loss had negatively impacted their relationship with their significant other or partner more than any of their other relationships.

And according to a British study of 55-year-olds with hearing loss, out of 1,500 participants:

— 44% reported that their hearing loss had caused relationships with their partner, family or friends to suffer.

— 34% reported that their hearing loss had actually led to the end of a relationship, including marriages.

Clearly, hearing loss is no small issue when it comes to happy and healthy relationships. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the least suspected culprits of relationship problems. Maybe that’s why 53% of women with hearing loss and 37% of men with hearing loss have not sought treatment for their condition.

What common objections might I encounter?

If you think your spouse has hearing loss and it has affected your relationship with them, you may have to be the one to convince them to seek treatment. Common objections you might hear could include any of the following:

— “My family doctor would have told me.”

— “A hearing aid makes me look old.”

— “Hearing aids are uncomfortable.”

— “I can hear just fine.”

Hearing loss may be embarrassing for people who have it, and some might prefer to ignore it. The good news is that some of the most common reasons for hearing loss — such as earwax buildup — are easy to fix and don’t require invasive surgery or hearing aids.

But if your spouse’s hearing loss is deep-seated and requires hearing aids or treatment, you may have to first overcome their objections and protestations.

What should I do if my spouse has hearing loss?

The key is to be patient, understanding and supportive. When approaching your spouse or significant other about their hearing loss, make sure they understand that you are focused on improving the relationship, not on assigning any value judgment.

Discuss how you feel your partner’s hearing loss has impacted the relationship for you and why that bothers you. Then ask them whether they think their hearing loss has impacted the relationship for them as well. Empathy will go a long way when it comes to successfully facing hearing loss with your partner.

Ed. – If you’re in central Indiana, contact Manan Hearing Care for a complete audiogram, and recommendations for hearing aids. If you’re shopping for hearing aids online, check out HearSource.com, which is a fantastic source of low-price, high-quality hearing aids, and they can do remote fittings and adjustments through your home computer (and in some cases through your smart phone!)

Patients reluctant to use hearing aids, unaware of link between hearing loss and dementia

Senior ear nose and throat consultant at Tan Tock Seng Hospital Ho Eu Chin with his patient Doraisamy Pillay.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE – Mr Doraisamy Pillay brushed off his wife’s concerns when she noticed that he had difficulty understanding her.

The school counsellor, who was then 67, chose to believe he was merely inattentive, and ignored the advice of an audiologist that he would benefit from a hearing aid.

It was only four years later, in the middle of a counselling session in 2008, that he realised he could not understand what a crying student was saying as he could not hear her.

“It was a terrible shock to me. I couldn’t help her,” said Mr Doraisamy, who was soon afterwards fitted with a hearing aid.

But his reaction is only too common in Singapore, where just 3.3 per cent of people with disabling hearing loss choose to wear a hearing aid, said senior ear nose and throat consultant at Tan Tock Seng Hospital Ho Eu Chin.

In comparison, the United Kingdom has an uptake of 38.6 per cent, and Japan, 14.1 per cent.

Almost 10 per cent of Singaporeans in their 60s suffer from disabling hearing loss, which means they have difficulty hearing conversations in a crowded coffee shop, or during a family dinner when several people are speaking, said Dr Ho on Tuesday (June 18), in an interview with the press to increase public awareness of a preventable health problem.

Studies have shown that  hearing loss is linked to dementia, and is in fact the most important modifiable risk factor for dementia, he said.

The reasons that link hearing loss to dementia are still being studied, but research shows as many as 25 per cent of cases of preventable dementia would benefit from treating hearing loss, he said.

His own study found that of the patients who had hearing aids fitted at the hospital between 2001 and 2013, 69 per cent were already suffering from at least moderately severe hearing loss. This is an issue of concern, he said, as it is harder to treat them.

Dr Ho also cited the National Health Survey of 2010, which found that 73.2 per cent of people with disabling hearing loss did not think they had a problem. He said people should not wait until they perceive the hearing loss themselves to seek help, and should consult a doctor once their family and friends start noticing it.

There are various reasons patients are reluctant to embrace hearing aids, one of which is that they feel it is stigmatising.

Some think that hearing aids are “very noisy”, and they should “wait until they really cannot hear” before getting one. But the issue is more complicated than that, said Dr Ho.

He explained that the complaint about noisy hearing aids has to do with how the brain perceives sound.

Human brains are naturally programmed to tune out background noises, such as traffic, or the hum of the air-conditioning.

However, as one’s hearing deteriorates, the ears no longer detect such sounds. This causes the brain to “forget” how to tune out background noise.

When patients finally get hearing aids, they are once again able to detect the sounds but have lost the ability to filter them out. This leads to the perception that hearing aids are “noisy”.

Dr Ho said this problem gets worse the longer someone who has hearing loss goes without a hearing aid, which is why one should not wait until things get “bad enough” before seeking help.

Patients are also concerned about the price of hearing aids, which cost around $3,000 on average for a pair, according to Dr Ho.

However, there are means-tested government subsidies available under the Senior’s Mobility and Enabling Fund which can greatly defray the cost.

Mr Doraisamy refused to have one because he associated it with illness, and none of his older brothers had hearing problems.

But the incident in 2008 was a wake-up call.

“That’s when I realised – if I wanted to continue working, I’d better get a hearing aid,” he said.

The hearing aid he has in each ear has “completely changed” his life for the better.

He said: “Before, I had a lot of misunderstandings with my wife as she had to raise her voice. My grandchildren would shout at me so I could hear and get scolded for being disrespectful. I didn’t want to meet friends because I was afraid I couldn’t socialise.

“But now I look forward to meeting people, I’m much more self-confident. I got my life back.”

Fellow patient Robert Nah, a 66-year-old former trader, shared his sentiments.

“People think wearing a hearing aid is inconvenient but it’s actually a solution to your problems,” he said.

Dr Ho thinks more patients would come around to wearing hearing aids if they were aware of the link between dementia and hearing loss.

He said about half of his elderly patients who were initially reluctant to get them were happy to do so after learning about the link.

He added that a “massive education effort”, both for patients and doctors, is necessary as the connection between hearing loss and dementia is still not common knowledge.

“A lot more can be done,” he said.

Best Hearing Aids from the Better Hearing Store

How to Get Used to Hearing Aids

You know how dazzling the sun can seem when you walk out of a dark movie theater during daylight? Your immediate reaction may be to cover your eyes—a reflexive response based on your brain telling you that it’s too bright for you to be out there.

Getting a hearing aid for the first time is kind of like that, too. “Your ears have been deprived of sound, so when you suddenly get it back, your brain’s response is to say, ‘Stop!’” says Jackie Clark, Ph.D., clinical professor of audiology at the University of Texas in Dallas.

The longer you’ve been living with hearing loss, the more jarring the sudden noise may seem. And people typically do live with hearing loss for several years before deciding to try a hearing aid. In fact, a recent survey of 17,626 Consumer Reports members found that more than 6 in 10 waited for more than 2 years after they first noticed they had difficulty hearing before getting hearing aids.

“After that much time, the brain has fully adapted to listening through the filter of hearing loss, so it’s not surprising that there is an adjustment period needed to get used to newly amplified sounds,” says Catherine Palmer, Ph.D., associate professor of communication science and disorders and otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh.

On the positive side, CR’s survey also found that 3 out of 4 members said it took them less than a month to get used to their hearing aid.

Here are some tips for making the transition go more smoothly and when to make a return visit to your audiologist for more help.

Get the Fit Right

Making sure your hearing aids fit properly in your ears is the first, and most crucial, step to get used to hearing aids, and should be done by your audiologist before you take a new device home.

Not only does this make aids more comfortable to wear but it also makes them more effective. “The fit should be comfortable from the beginning,” says Palmer. “That doesn’t mean you won’t notice that something’s in your ear—at least for the first few weeks—but it shouldn’t hurt.”

Before going home, you also need to know how to correctly put the aids in yourself. Even though most aids now come with systems designed to reduce or eliminate feedback, you can still experience the unpleasant screeching or whistling sound if you don’t have the device placed exactly right.

“Never leave your doctor’s office without demonstrating at least two times that you can take the hearing aid out and replace it correctly yourself,” Clark says.

Help Yourself Adjust to ‘New’ Sounds

It can take some time to get used to hearing sounds that you may not have heard for years. Before you take your aids home, your audiologist will program them (determine the appropriate amplification for you).

But if this feels painfully loud, your audiologist can set your device so that it’s lower at first, then gradually increase the volume as your comfort allows. Some hearing aids can actually be programmed to slowly amp up over a period of several weeks until you reach your target goal.

When you first start using the aids, know that it’s normal for sounds to seem not only too loud but also too high-pitched. But “the only way for your brain to adapt is through consistent exposure,” Palmer says.

So wear your hearing aids during all your waking hours right from the start, except in situations where they might get wet, such as swimming or showering.

But do give your ears a break as you’re adjusting. “Don’t head straight to a noisy restaurant or crowded warehouse store,” says audiologist Deborah Berndtson, Au.D., CCC-A, associate director of audiology practices at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. “The background noise in places like that can be overwhelming and make it even harder to hear conversations.”

Know When to Go Back to Your Audiologist

Normally, you will have an appointment for fine-tuning your device’s settings and fit several weeks after you first get your hearing aid.

But if you’re having trouble coping with the volume of sounds—to the point where you can’t leave your aids in for a full day—talk to your audiologist about going in sooner for a refitting.

The same goes for a device that is causing a lot of physical discomfort. “You can’t adjust to something that you can’t tolerate wearing,” Palmer says.

Consider Online Hearing Aid Training

If you find that you are still having trouble understanding words and following conversations, even with your new aids, you may benefit from a kind of hearing aid training called auditory rehabilitation.

These short-term online programs help enhance your ability to process sound quickly and improve your listening and communication skills. Some are free, others cost (usually less than $100 but unlikely to be covered by insurance).

“It makes sense that people with a damaged sensory system need to practice with new sounds after receiving a hearing aid,” says Palmer. “It’s much like how someone who’s received a prosthetic limb needs physical therapy to relearn how to function.”

Talk to your audiologist about whether or not you might benefit from this additional training, and if so, which program you might want to try.

Have Realistic Expectations

Most people with hearing loss have sustained damage to their auditory system. So it’s important to understand that an appropriately tuned hearing aid will improve your condition but can’t actually restore your hearing to normal.

“The goal of the device is to aid you, to amplify sound and make speech easier for you to understand,” says Berndtson.

But you’ll need to do your part—and recognize that even with the hearing aid, you still may need to ask people to talk more slowly and look at you when they speak.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2019, Consumer Reports, Inc.

Costco Hearing Aids – Before You Buy, Please Read

Are you willing to buy a “locked” hearing aid? Costco hearing aids are “locked.” Let me explain. There are only six major hearing aid manufacturers in the world. All of the major hearing aid manufacturers offer effective, high quality products with leading edge technologies. Beyond these six, there are a myriad of other brands and private labeled (Costco included) hearing aids available. The six major hearing aid manufacturer brands for the USA are: Many large retail sales organizations, like Costco, “Private Label” or “Rebrand” hearing aids manufactured by the Big Six. Private labeling employs a similar retail concept to grocery stores and the National Name Brands verses generic Supermarket Brands. Supermarket products may be similar in use and the differences from the National Brand may be negligible. In the hearing aid world, large retail sales chains such as Costco (Kirkland), Beltone, Miracle Ear, Audibel are all Private Labels or developed separate brands, but still made by one of the Big Six hearing aid manufacturers. Below I list some of the more common Private Label or Rebranded hearing aids and their manufacturer. Private Label / Retail Sales Chain Name / National Brand manufacturer:
  • HearO / Avada mfg’d by Oticon
  • Arris / Avada mfg’d by Oticon
  • BluLink / Avada mfg’d by Oticon
  • AGX / Audigy Group mfg’d by Oticon & Starkey
  • Audibel mfg’d by Starkey
  • Sonus mfg’d by Most of the Big Six
  • Kirkland / Costco mfg’d by Sivantos
  • Future / Costco mfg’d by GN/ReSound
  • Miracle Ear mfg’d by Sivantos
  • Beltone mfg’d by GN/ReSound

Primary reasons for the Private Labeling of hearing aids:

  • A unique brand name makes comparing features and prices difficult.
  • Locked programming software only allows consumer to be serviced by the specific Private Label vendor.
There are significant considerations to purchasing Private label hearing aids. Most Private Labeled hearing aids are “locked” and can only be serviced and programmed at the specific retail chain where purchased. The hearing aid user is “locked-in” to that company. For example, if you bought Costco hearing aids, you have no choice as to where you can go for service except to Costco. If you decide you would like to see a different hearing care professional for any reason, you’re stuck. If you transfer jobs, move residences, or travel out of the area, you’re stuck.

Is the Costco trade off worth it?

I don’t think so. No doubt that up front you can save some money compared to local audiologists and other hearing care providers. In the long run, will your quest for long-term better hearing be well served?

Discount Hearing Aid Pricing Without Being “Locked-In”

Consider online retailers such as BetterHearingStore.com.  Better Hearing Store offers deeply discounted National Name Brand hearing aids and Private Label hearing aids at discount prices that are more affordable than most hearing care providers and the hearing aids are NOT “locked”. Also Better Hearing Store has offered remote programming and support services since 2006, they seem to be the leader in this type of cutting age technology and direct to the consumer hearing aid support. For more information on National Name Brand hearing aids from Better Hearing Store, contact them during their regular business hours (9-5 Eastern Time, USA) at 1-800-416-2434. In today’s hearing aid marketplace, anytime I hear the word “locked” I substitute “no options”. Locked hearing aids, no matter how well they work, are designed to capture the customer first, and render their advertised service second. Ultimately, consumers control any free market. As long as “name brands” sell, the marketplace will offer locked hearing aids. Luckily, for the hearing impaired consumer, the selection of hearing aids is no longer limited to the locked brands carried by local hearing aid offices, no matter how many offices they have. One-by-one, major hearing aid manufacturers are allowing their products to be marketed by certain qualified Internet retailers and some are even embracing the union. Soaring sales of basic, unlocked, hearing aids over the Internet are forcing manufacturers of premium locked hearing aids to take notice. An issue for the major hearing aid manufacturers will be to only allowing their premium products to be sold by internet hearing aid dealers that can adequately support and service their products. While many hearing aid manufacturers have not unlocked their proprietary programming software, they have given users control of their hearing aid sound settings through smartphone apps. The introduction of smartphone apps for hearing aids is a game changer. Even some basic hearing aids are compatible with smartphone apps. As data streaming technology continues to advance, the reasons to make an appointment and fight traffic only to sit in a waiting room until it’s your turn for a five-minute adjustment continues to decline. The reasons to be able to adjust your own hearing aids in changing sound environments are too many to count.
priceless reaction

Baby gets first hearing aids, giggles uncontrollably

priceless reactionEleven-month-old Scarlet Benjamin received her first hearing aids last week — and her reaction has melted hearts across the country. Scarlet was born 3 months early and suffered a serious infection early on, her mother, Carol Dianne Benjamin, wrote on Facebook. “She ended up getting NEC … and the antibiotics that she needed cause hearing loss,” Benjamin explained. NEC, or necrotizing enterocolitis, is a common but serious intestinal disease in premature babies. “It has been a LONG and emotional experience,” Scarlet’s mom wrote. “She reacted to most sounds so we thought she could hear fairly well.” The family had no clue how little Scarlet could hear — until she got her first hearing aids. “Hearing aids make a WORLD of difference!” Benjamin wrote. The grateful mom posted a video of Scarlet getting her first set of hearing aids at Atlanta Hearing Associates in Milledgeville, Georgia. After a few seconds with them in, Scarlet’s confused face turns into a huge smile. “Baby sister. Baby sister,” Scarlet’s sister, 4-year-old Halie, says in the video. The sound of Halie’s voice makes Scarlet erupt with laughter. For the first time, she could hear her sister’s voice clearly. Scarlet’s joyous giggle made the whole family start laughing. And the infectious laugh went viral, making people across the country smile. The baby’s giggle also brought tears of joy to her mother’s eyes. “Anyway, enjoy one of the absolute best days of our lives. By the way, I’m crying, you’re crying, everyone is crying,” Benjamin wrote.