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Tips for Communicating with Face Masks

Tips for Communicating with Face Masks

Tips for Communicating with Face Masks

It is difficult enough to have hearing loss during normal times, but the current COVID-19 pandemic makes it even more difficult for a person with hearing issues to interact with others.

Although we all should wear a mask to help stop the spread, masks pose a particular challenge for those with hearing loss, and many people have had a difficult time adapting to this new way of communicating.

Those with impaired hearing often depend on seeing the lips and facial signals of an individual who is speaking. Wearing a mask covers the mouth and a portion of a person’s face, and it can muffle the sound as well. Plus, with social distancing protocols in effect, a person’s muffled voice can be much harder to make out when you are six feet apart.

Fortunately, options are available that can help you communicate better with those around you, whether you have hearing loss or not. Here are a few tips to consider.


Use The Right Body Language 

To better deliver meaning and communicate effectively, body language is critical. Most importantly, body language, hand movements, and posture are essential. 

  • Try not to cross your arms.
  • Try to keep your hands out of your pockets.
  • When required to acknowledge that you are listening, nod along.
  • Use your eyebrows and eyes. The most important thing is good eye contact.
  • Let the story be told through your eyebrows. You can communicate happiness through raised eyebrows, raised cheeks, and crow’s feet.
  • Pinched eyebrows together and drooping eyes may indicate sadness.
  • You might look angry if your eyebrows are in a ‘V’ shape.


Be Mindful Of How You Speak

Call people by name if you can. Saying their name is the best way to get someone’s attention. It develops a bond and illustrates courtesy and professionalism. It also helps him or her to know that you’re interested in the discussion.

Speak slowly, enunciate, and repeat yourself to ensure that the other person understands clearly. We tend to talk in a hurry, particularly when we’re busy. Taking the time to speak slowly and purposefully will help solve the difficulties of communication.

Use descriptive vocabulary. Masks make it impossible for a person’s face to convey emotions. Instead of depending on facial gestures, we need to express our feelings with language more.

Ask for confirmation of understanding. Ask the people you talk to the following question: “Does that make sense?” This will avoid a lot of errors and missed opportunities when engaged in tricky conversations.


Choose An Appropriate Mask

While wearing a face mask with a fun slogan, cartoon, or a massive smile printed on it might be lighthearted and make you look more open, it might not be the most appropriate choice if you are in a business meeting or other setting where accurate communication is key. Instead, for those occasions, find a neutral-colored and breathable alternative that will be comfortable to wear while speaking for extended periods.


Be Patient With Yourself And With Others

If you get it wrong, give yourself a break, and equally, forgive others for their missteps. Everyone is trying their best to get by during these troubling times, and it helps to extend humility to others. It is important to remember that we all can flub an interaction, as you might in a regular face-to-face communication without a mask. Cut people some slack and they’ll return the favor.


Kenwood Hearing Centers

If during this pandemic you find it harder than the average person to understand others, you may have a hearing loss. To help you reconnect with the ones you love, we provide comprehensive health services and run extensive hearing tests. If a hearing loss is detected, we offer professional hearing aid fitting and counseling. Contact us today for a consultation.

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Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Hearing Aids

Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Hearing Aids

Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Hearing Aids

We all know a version of summer fun: whether it’s water skiing, taking a walk, or playing chess in the park, summer/fall is the best time of year to get outside and enjoy the warm weather and the sights, sounds, and smells of life.

It’s important to remember, however, that our hearing aids are delicate instruments that are sensitive to moisture. While all hearing devices are water-resistant to a degree, they can still be damaged by prolonged exposure to sweat.

Follow the few tips below and you’ll be in good shape to enjoy the summertime without damaging your hearing aids in the process.


Keep Your Ears Dry

In addition to keeping your hearing aids dry, you’ll want to take extra precautions to keep water out of your ear canals, as well. Getting your ears wet from swimming and then popping your hearing aids back in when you get out of the water can trap moisture inside your ear canal, increasing your risk for developing swimmer’s ear (a bacterial infection of the ear canal).

If you’re going swimming, always make sure to:

  • Remove your hearing aids.
  • Keep your ears dry with a bathing cap or swimmer’s earplugs.
  • Towel-dry your ears afterwards.
  • Avoid inserting fingers or cotton swabs into your ears.
  • Leave earwax alone! It helps water to evacuate your ear canal.
  • Leave a little extra time for your ears to air-dry before reinserting your hearing aids.


Keep Your Hearing Aids Clean

Sandy beaches and salt water are bad news for hearing aids. Never touch your hearing aids with salt water or sand on your fingers. The salt water will leave salt deposits on your hearing aids, and sand will be very difficult to remove from the tiny openings in your hearing aids.

The best practice is to put your hearing aids into a waterproof container during your time at a beach or swimming pool, and don’t remove them until you’ve made sure that you and your hands are clean enough to safely handle them again.


Keep Your Hearing Aids Away from Heat

Extreme heat is bad for the batteries in your hearing aids, and can even melt their plastic casing. If you’re going to the beach or pool, never leave them in the car, where the temperature will get even hotter than the air outside. Keep them in a waterproof container in a shaded spot and they’ll be okay.


Check the IP Number on Your Hearing Aids

The IP number is a rating assigned by the International Electrotechnical Commission. An example of an IP number is “IP67.” The first numerical digit, 6, represents the device’s resistance to dust and debris, and the second numerical digit, 7, represents the device’s resistance to water. The dust scale goes from 1-7 and the moisture scale goes from 1-9.

The moisture rating “7” means that the hearing aids can withstand 30 minutes submerged in water that is less than 3 feet deep. A rating lower than 7 means the device is not submersible. Discuss the IP ratings of various hearing aid models with your hearing care provider to determine what your hearing aids can practically be expected to withstand.


Invest in a Hearing Aid Dehumidifier

These devices are relatively inexpensive and can significantly prolong the life of your hearing aids if moisture is a concern. Whenever you take them out at night, remove the batteries from your hearing aids and place them in the dehumidifier so they get to spend some time each night totally dry. You can purchase a dehumidifier from your hearing care provider or most drug stores.


Talk with Kenwood Hearing Centers About Your Needs

If you have questions about what to do with your hearing aids during these summer and fall  months, talk to us. We have plenty of recommendations and a good knowledge of your specific hearing aids, so we can help you keep them safe, clean and working for their expected lifespan.

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Tips for Watching TV with Hearing Aids

Tips for Watching TV with Hearing Aids

Tips for Watching TV with Hearing Aids

Hearing loss can affect almost every part of your life and it can be especially discouraging when it makes your favorite leisure activities less enjoyable. When we can’t hear properly it becomes increasingly difficult to appreciate a wide range of activities, from parties and family meals to concerts and television shows. 

Missing out on your favorite television shows due to hearing loss might turn a comfortable evening on the couch into a challenge. While it is true you can turn up the volume on your TV set, that’s not necessarily the best option for an optimal viewing and listening experience. 


Keep Your Volume Down

Constantly increasing the volume on your television to a level that is louder than your family or friends would prefer is a good sign you have unaddressed hearing issues. While turning up your television volume can help temporarily, it isn’t always as effective as it seems. For starters, increased volume often goes hand in hand with increased audio distortion coming from your speakers, making the sound louder but not necessarily any clearer. 

Loud television volumes can help you hear but they can be a problem for those you are living with — it can interfere with the lives of others in your household and even disrupt neighbors. Turning up the volume makes it hard for those with normal hearing to enjoy watching programs alongside you.


Other Options

Fortunately, there are options for people with hearing loss that allow you to have a much more enjoyable experience. Here are just a few ways to improve how you watch television with hearing loss. 


Hearing Aids Are Key

The use of hearing aids is a key component to successfully managing hearing loss. Hearing aids are an investment in your quality of life – tiny and powerful devices that make it easier to keep up with conversations, navigate the world around you, and enjoy activities like watching TV. 

If you have hearing loss, treating it with hearing aids can greatly improve your communication and comprehension, and television is no exception. Simply wearing your hearing aids can help make viewing easier and more pleasurable. Many hearing aids can also be programmed by your hearing specialist with a setting balanced for television viewing.


Streaming Audio

One of the most exciting features common on today’s devices is the ability to stream audio from your phone, computer, television or other digital device directly to your hearing aid. 

Sound delivered straight to your ear canal is clearer and easier to understand. It allows you to have enhanced access to the television’s soundtrack while those around you can watch at the volume that they prefer.



Even with enhanced listening, using your television’s captioning feature can make it easier to access your favorite shows and keep up with dialogue and action. When sound environments become complex, it can be hard to untangle and prioritize different aspects of a soundtrack, especially if you live with hearing loss. 

Captioning allows you to have a shortcut or backup plan for viewing. Even if you don’t rely on the captions all the time, keeping it turned on while watching give you a backup method of staying abreast of the plot if your ears miss something. 


Induction Loop

Induction loops provide the technology that many airports and churches rely upon to create an audio channel specifically for hearing aid users. Often called “telecoil loops”, induction loops send out an audio signal that can be picked up by hearing devices that are equipped with a telecoil. The effect is similar to streaming, with sound delivered directly to your ears. 

Small induction loop amplifiers can be installed in your home and plugged into your television to make the TV audio available to the telecoil in your hearing aid.


Kenwood Hearing Centers

Kenwood Hearing Centers offers six convenient locations in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sonoma, and Fairfield so there’s always an option nearby. Our customer-focused care and state-of-the-art testing means that you get hearing healthcare tailored to your needs. Kenwood’s knowledgeable staff of hearing specialists provides you with insight into improving your hearing – reach out to us today!

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Common Misconceptions About Hearing Aids

Common Misconceptions About Hearing Aids

Common Misconceptions About Hearing Aids

It is common that hard-of-hearing people of all ages do not address their hearing loss and avoid treatment in the form of a hearing aid. At first, it is difficult to understand why – studies indicate that hearing aids greatly enhance hearing and quality of life in 90 percent of people with hearing loss. Looking at these numbers, why do many ignore the obvious choice?

Approximately 30 percent of people with hearing loss use a hearing aid. This means that 70 percent of the hard-of-hearing population live with their disability, without support. Imagine if 70% of those with visual problems ignored their condition too. Several studies have reported that the average person who gets fit for a hearing aid has been waiting seven years after the first signs of hearing loss – a long time to put up with the anxiety and loneliness that comes with compromised hearing.

As hearing professionals, we understand the reasons for not getting a hearing aid are varied and complex, but we would like to dispel several of them here:


“They make me look old.”

Think about a time you were having a conversation with a person who had trouble hearing you. You might have had to repeat yourself several times, raised your voice louder, or spoken much slower than normal. If you knew these challenges might arise, you might even decided not to start the discussion at all.

But think about how many times you’ve seen someone wearing a hearing aid. Maybe you can count the number of times on one hand, but amazingly, 1 out of every 32 Americans wear hearing aids and we barely notice them.

The truth is that no one looks at the back of your head, but everyone will notice if they can’t easily carry on a conversation with you. If you don’t want people to think you’re “old,” you need to be able to understand and respond appropriately to other people’s words.


“Hearing aids are difficult to use”

Substantial changes have been made to hearing aids, and the products currently available work like mini-computers. They can automatically adapt to your hearing habits, as well as provide substantial noise reduction in challenging listening environments.


“My hearing is fine.”

We often hear people say things like “I can hear the things I want to hear”, or “I’m doing fine for now so I’ll wait until my hearing gets worse.”

It can be difficult to notice a gradual decrease in your hearing, challenging to accept that you have a problem, and challenging to take the first step towards addressing it, even when there is an easy solution.

Over time, you get used to missing words here and there, or asking people to repeat themselves rather than effortlessly engaging in the conversation. It is not until you put on a pair of properly fitted hearing aids that you begin to understand how much of your life you’ve missed out on.


“Hearing aids are expensive.”

People with hearing problems sometimes find the device’s cost can be very high. While hearing aids are an investment, people overwhelmingly find that the price tag is well worth it because of the improvement in nearly all areas of their life. The use of hearing aids has been shown to preserve earning potential in the workplace, as well as reduce medical costs, as even a mild hearing loss that goes untreated has been shown to increase the likelihood of falling by nearly 3 times.

At Kenwood Hearing Centers, we recommend hearing aids that best suit your needs. We offer personalized hearing tests and hearing aid fitting and counseling to help you find the best devices for your unique hearing needs.

If you are ready to have your hearing checked to see which hearing aids are right for you, please contact us today for an appointment.

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How Treating Hearing Loss Improves Your Relationships

How Treating Hearing Loss Improves Your Relationships

How Treating Hearing Loss Improves Your Relationships

The Harvard Study of Adult Development is one of the longest studies on human happiness to ever be conducted. The study spanned eight decades and utilized multiple teams of researchers throughout the years. The study aimed to determine the key factors for human happiness and longevity. According to Robert Waldinger, director of the study, one thing surpasses all the rest in terms of importance:

“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

According to the study, it was not the number of friends or whether or not people were in committed romantic partnerships that made the difference. The most important factor was the quality of one’s close relationships – be that friendships, partnerships, or relationships with family members.


Ok, so relationships are foundational to our lifelong happiness and longevity, what does this have to do with hearing aids?

According to multiple studies from across the globe, hearing aids have the capability to vastly improve the quality of one’s relationships, and better relationships mean a happier, healthier, and longer life.


Hearing aids and romantic relationships.

Hearing aids can greatly improve our romantic relationships. Oftentimes, it is our spouse or partner that first recognizes the signs of our hearing loss. They may feel that we are not listening to them or are not interested in what they are saying. Some spouses feel ignored and frustrated when communicating with their partner and choose to stay quiet and quit communicating instead.

When hearing loss is treated with hearing aids, however, all of this begins to change. Hearing aids help us to connect in the quieter moments. The whispered “I love you” during your granddaughter’s dance recital or hearing your wife’s soft humming while she completes her crossword puzzle. Study after study finds that couples report feeling happier and more connected in their relationship after choosing to treat their hearing loss with hearing aids. When we can hear, we can better communicate, and better communication leads to happier and more content marriages.


Hearing aids and relationships with friends and family.

Untreated hearing loss can also have a very negative impact on our relationships with our friends and family. Many people with untreated hearing loss begin to withdraw socially, and choose not to participate in social events they used to love. Many times, this is due to the fact that having conversations with groups of people in noisy environments is extremely frustrating when hearing loss is untreated. When you are at a social gathering and cannot hear the conversation, it can lead to feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression.

Hearing aids of today are power-packed with technology that is specifically focused on making conversations with groups of people easier and more enjoyable – even in busy and noisy environments. When people choose to treat their hearing loss with hearing aids, they are more likely to participate in the social activities that are critical to keeping friendships and familial relationships alive and healthy.


Hearing aids and relationships at work.

Untreated hearing loss even has the potential to negatively impact our relationships with our coworkers. Studies have found that people with untreated hearing loss are often seen as less competent, and less intelligent than their peers without hearing loss or those who choose to treat their hearing loss with hearing aids. Untreated hearing loss can make work events such as happy hour feel unbearable – thus causing us to choose to opt out of social gatherings that are key to building strong relationships with our colleagues.

Hearing aids can help in the workplace as well! Studies have found that choosing to treat your hearing loss with hearing aids can mitigate these negative effects. When we have the confidence that we can hear and understand the conversations happening around us, we are more likely to chime in and contribute in more meaningful ways at work and at work social events.


Hearing aids and relationships with self.

Hearing aids have also been found to improve one’s relationship with him or herself! Choosing to treat hearing loss with hearing aids has been linked to a reduced risk for anxiety, depression and social isolation. People who treat hearing loss also report higher levels of self-esteem on average than those with untreated hearing loss.

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Communication at Work – May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

Communication At Work | May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

Communication At Work | May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

Working with hearing loss can be challenging. Impaired hearing reduces one’s ability to absorb and process sound which can significantly strain communication. This makes engaging in conversation difficult and impacts how you interact with coworkers, supervisors, and others throughout your workday. Addressing your hearing loss and learning about effective communication strategies can drastically improve your success at the office! 


Disclosing Hearing Loss 

Thinking about notifying your employer of your hearing loss can be overwhelming. You may be anxious about discussing having impaired hearing and the impact it can have on how you manage your job responsibilities. But disclosing your hearing loss can be extremely beneficial for a variety of reasons including: 

  • Guarantees protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) from discrimination based on any disability. The ADA also requires employers to provide workplace accommodations. 
  • Lets the people you work with know that you may experience some difficulty during conversations, and may need extra time and assistance.
  • Creates an open environment where you can share with coworkers and supervisors specific ways to engage in conversation that helps you hear and process information more effectively.

Disclosing your hearing loss is a major way to advocate for yourself and your hearing needs.


Tips for Effective Communication  

There are many ways you can strengthen your communication in the workplace. Along with disclosing your hearing loss, there are numerous communication strategies and tips you can practice including: 

Hearing Loss Treatment

Treating your hearing loss is the most important way that you can enhance communication and protect your health. The first step is to have your hearing assessed by a hearing healthcare specialist. This involves a noninvasive process that examines the sounds and frequencies that you are (and are not) able to hear. This determines the degree and type of hearing impairment you are experiencing. 

Some hearing loss can be treated by a medical doctor, but the most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These small electronic devices have a wide range of features and are customized to meet your unique hearing needs. Hearing aids increase one’s ability to hear and understand in various environments. 

Share Communication Strategies 

Treating your hearing loss and working with hearing healthcare experts allows you to learn more about your hearing impairment and the types of sounds you may have difficulty hearing. Educating yourself on your specific hearing loss and how you can maximize your hearing ability is incredibly important. This allows you to share this useful information with others who can engage in conversations with you in ways that are more effective. 

Helpful communication strategies that others in your life can implement include: making eye contact, facing you, calling your name to get your attention prior to starting a conversation, rephrasing rather than repeating certain words or phrases you may have a difficult time distinguishing, and speaking from a comfortable distance. Sharing this information also makes effective communication everyone’s responsibility and not just yours, which can alleviate some stress! 

Research and Identify Workplace Accommodations 

The ADA requires employers to provide workplace accommodations for employees with disabilities. Disclosing your hearing loss enables you to have this conversation with a supervisor or your human resources department. Examples of workplace accommodations to assist those with hearing difficulties include: 

  • Work Area Adjustments: this could mean relocating to quieter work areas, or placing a physical barrier between your work area and sources of loud noise. 
  • Electronic Device Connectivity: if you use electronic devices at work such as a phone or laptop, they can be connected to your hearing aids

By disclosing your hearing loss and practicing a few strategies for effective communication, you can navigate your work environment with greater ease and support!

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Hearing Aid Maintenance Tips While Sheltering at Home

Hearing Aid Maintenance Tips While Sheltering at Home

Hearing Aid Maintenance Tips While Sheltering at Home

Modern hearing aids are discreet but house some of the most advanced technology. As such, they need to be appropriately looked after to protect against dust, dirt, and earwax. As you shelter in place during this time, ensuring that your hearing aid is working properly in preparation to going out into the world again is an effective use of your time. 

The following tips will help you extend your hearing aid’s lifespan.

Store the hearing aids in a dry place.

Keep your hearing aids in a dry place when you take them out each night. When your environment or home is humid, consider purchasing a dryer or dehumidifier for your hearing aids. If this is not an option, place your hearing aid overnight in the open air and leave the doors open for the battery to prevent moisture from building up.

Handle your hearing aids with care

  •       When cleaning the hearing aid, replacing the battery, or installing and removing the hearing aid, you should place a cloth underneath. This prevents harm if you drop the hearing aid accidentally. A plain-colored material will also make it easier to find small parts.
  •       Hearing aids should not be used when bathing or showering.
  •       Make sure your ears are clean and dry before inserting your hearing aid.
  •       When you undergo an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan, you should remove your hearing aids.
  •       Avoid getting products like make-up or hair spray onto your hearing aids.

Remove earwax from your device

Wax can clog the hearing aid’s microphone or receiver, blocking the sound from getting into the ear. Cleaning your hearing aids every day is important, and here’s how to do so:

  • Use a smooth, dry cloth or tissue to wipe the outside of the hearing aid
  • A small brush or even a toothbrush can be used to remove any debris that has accumulated on the hearing aid
  • Replace the wax filter if your device has one – it will look like a small circle at the end of the hearing aid that goes deepest into your ear

Professional Repairs with Kenwood Hearing Centers

Hearing aids should also be regularly professionally cleaned. If you think your hearing aid has stopped working, it is important to contact us at Kenwood Hearing Centers. We can provide curb-side service to diagnose, clean, and fix your hearing aid, as well as deliver batteries and other supplies to your car or directly to your home via mail.  

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New Year’s Resolution: Get Your Hearing Tested

New Year's Resolution: Get Your Hearing Tested

New Year's Resolution: Get Your Hearing Tested

Happy New Year from our family to yours! We hope 2020 is off to a great start for you and we want to bring you an idea that can make it even better. It’s not too late to set a resolution, so why not resolve to get your hearing tested? Hearing tests are non-invasive and painless and they can help prevent negative health issues related to hearing loss. Even if you don’t think you have hearing issues, an annual hearing test is still an important part of tracking your health and noticing changes early.

Hearing Loss: More Common Than You Think

Today, more than 48 million Americans live with significant hearing loss – that’s around 15% of the population. Hearing loss is incredibly common, but knowing how to manage hearing health isn’t widespread. Studies have found that when people notice an issue with their hearing, they wait an average of seven years before scheduling a hearing exam! In that time, existing hearing issues worsen and can drag down other aspects of our health, like coordination, cognitive skills, emotional and social wellbeing, and heart health.

Finding and treating hearing loss early is by far the best way to address a hearing impairment. Early treatment is usually easier to adjust to – for example, when hearing loss is left untreated it actually changes the way the brain processes sound, making it harder to adapt when treatment is introduced.

As we age, annual hearing exams go from being just a good idea to being a key part of our comprehensive health care. Most hearing loss is permanent, caused by damage to the sensitive parts of our inner ear. Incidents of damage accrue over our lifetime, and our auditory system also becomes more delicate as we age. At age 65, 1 in 3 people has some form of significant hearing loss. From age 60 onward, hearing loss becomes more and more likely to occur: 50% of the population at age 75 have hearing loss and 90% of people age 90 or older will have hearing impairment. Making a habit of getting an annual hearing exam means that when hearing issues arise, you can take action.

The Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss

While most hearing loss cannot be reversed, it can be treated with highly effective assistive devices like hearing aids. Hearing aids are tuned specifically to your hearing loss  making it easier to follow conversations. They also assist in helping you to be aware of sounds in your environment that could be important for your safety.

When hearing loss is left untreated, it impairs your ability to communicate. This can create distance between yourself and close family and friends, or create confusion in your professional or academic life. Subtly, hearing loss can even change your behavior patterns. Hearing issues can make once enjoyable activities like dining out or going to a party seem frustrating or difficult. While these emotional and social costs of untreated hearing loss often start out as feeling like “no big deal”, they are part of an elevated risk of depression, anxiety, and social isolation that hearing loss can provoke.

The good news is that there is amazing new technology available to help you maintain your quality of life with better hearing. If your hearing exam indicates hearing loss, it will be mapped to show the precise tone and frequency ranges you struggle with. Hearing aids are then programmed specifically to your needs. Better still, hearing aids come in a range of styles to match every lifestyle with discreet design and adaptive features. Using hearing aids to treat hearing loss not only improves your hearing, it boosts your quality of life and can improve aspects of your overall health, like cognitive performance.

Kenwood Hearing Centers

Want to get moving on that New Year’s resolution? Why not schedule your next hearing test with Kenwood Hearing Centers today? We’ve got six convenient locations in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sonoma, and Fairfield so there’s always an option nearby. Our customer-focused care and state-of-the-art testing means that you get hearing healthcare tailored to your needs. Kenwood’s knowledgeable staff of hearing specialists provides you with insight into improving your hearing – reach out to us today!

Posted in Hearing Health, Hearing Testing

Hearing Aids & Artificial Intelligence

Hearing Aids & Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) involves computers that are able to perform tasks characteristic of human intelligence. Machines that can understand language, plan, and learn all use AI. Machine learning is a way of achieving artificial intelligence for a computer: it is basically training a computer to learn things via data and algorithms.

One of the first machine learning programs was designed to do one simple task: play chess. It did not have to play chess well, at least not at first. Over time, it played enough games of chess to ‘learn’ which moves worked. This learning curve led the machine to become increasingly good at the game, later going on to beat the world’s best chess players.

The same idea was used to teach a computer to learn other activities. Indeed, AI has allowed innovators to incorporate machine learning in almost everything. Perhaps you heard about these developments in self-driving cars, smartphones and smart homes, but did you know that AI is also being used in hearing aids?

How hearing aids can benefit from AI

Sound is complex. We never want to hear everything possible in an environment. The arrival of digital hearing aids in the 90s went a long way towards categorizing sounds to reduce noise and aid in speech comprehension. But AI goes one step further.

The current generation of hearing aids tend to classify sound environments in simple terms, such as ‘quiet’ or ‘noisy’. It then uses this information to provide appropriate sound settings.  Although useful, these classifiers paint environments with a very broad brush and may not always help provide the best sound.

You could call this a ‘prediction-only’ method to signal processing because the computer is making a prediction, and not confirming it with any user data. But because there are so many variables in a sound environment that influence speech comprehension, another question is posed with machine learning programs – is this particular setting helping the user hear better or not? This can be called the ‘confirmation approach’ to signal processing.

The possibility to satisfy the needs of the user is greater with Artificial Intelligence hearing aid systems because they conduct sophisticated analysis of the sound environment and adapt their performance to the requirements of the user, based on settings that actually help the user at the given time.

Current uses of AI in hearing aids

Although AI is still in its infancy when it comes to hearing aids, there are a few hearing solutions currently available which are using the technology to automatically improve their performance for their users.

Some new hearing aids can learn in real-time with adaptive controls that guide users to their preferred hearing experience, which reduces the need for follow up visits and programming adjustments later. Others can monitor the user’s health by tracking the presence of speech and other noise, along with your steps and other movement, to create a score for overall activity and social engagement.

Kenwood Hearing Centers

Contact us today in Kenwood Hearing Centers if you are looking for a new pair of hearing aids and are interested in the latest technologies. We provide extensive hearing health services and support you in finding specialized listening aids to improve your hearing and your connections to others.

Posted in Hearing Aid Technology, Hearing Aids

Tips for Keeping Your Hearing Aids Dry

Tips for Keeping Your Hearing Aids Dry

Part of hearing well with hearing aids is making sure they are performing their best. While hearing aids are built to be durable, you need to protect them from moisture which can compromise your hearing aid’s performance. Whether you’re an avid swimmer or wear your hearing aids for sweaty activities like hiking or jogging, there are daily activities that may expose your hearing devices to moisture.

How does moisture affect your hearing aids and what can you do to protect them from damage? Here’s some information to help you get the most from your hearing aids.

 Why Dry?

It’s common sense to keep electronic devices away from water and liquids – but why is moisture so damaging to our devices? There are a few things that can go wrong when electronics get wet, sometimes causing irreparable damage.

Water can cause an electrical short in an electronic device like your hearing aids. Shorting happens when ions and impurities in the water form a connection between conductive components that weren’t designed to be connected. Electrical current flowing through this impromptu circuit can overload and damage delicate components and cause the entire device to malfunction or break down. Basically, water can lead electricity down paths it was never meant to travel.

Water and moisture can also lead to corrosion if a device is not properly dried. Corrosion on delicate metal elements inside a hearing aid can prevent it from working efficiently, or even stop it from working entirely. Corrosion interferes with the conductivity of metal components and can cause sudden or gradual decreased performance in an electronic device.

How to Protect Your Hearing Aids

The first step in protecting your hearing aids has been done without you having to think or do anything. Modern hearing aids are designed to prevent most moisture from penetrating into places where it can cause damage. Sensitive components of your hearing aid are also assembled with a water-resistant coating to further increase your device’s durability. The sealed design and manufacture of your hearing aids is the first line of defense against moisture interference.

Hearing aids are built to stand up to the moisture they may be exposed to during everyday activities. They are specifically designed to withstand the variable (and often humid) conditions of the human ear canal. Even with their focus on keeping water out, the other half of protecting your hearing aids from harm is up to you.

Maintaining your hearing aids can preserve their performance and prevent repairs. Moisture is best eliminated by taking the time to dry your hearing aids when they are not in your ears. Using a small device called a hearing aid dryer is your best solution for getting your hearing aids thoroughly dry. Most hearing aid dryers are small closed containers, about the size and shape of a jewelry box. They are easy to use and create a closed chamber where your hearing aids dry overnight while you sleep. If you use rechargeable hearing aids, your dryer may double as your charging station.

When an electric dryer isn’t available, you can still protect your hearing aid by placing it in a closed container or bag with a chemical desiccant. Like the silica pouches sometimes included in food packaging, desiccants draw moisture away from whatever they are around.

Be Water Safe

Your hearing aids were designed to resist average amounts of perspiration and humidity, but they aren’t meant to be exposed to big direct quantities of water. You should never swim, bathe or shower with your hearing aids in. Vigorous work or exercise may create problems caused by sweat.

To prevent exposing your hearing aids to water, the best accessory is a small watertight container into which you can seal your hearing aids if the going gets wet. Anywhere where there is a chance your hearing aids may get soaked, splashed or submerged is a place you will want to remove your hearing devices while water is present. Hearing aids are an investment in your health, and it pays off to protect that investment from harm.

Kenwood Hearing Centers

Hearing aid maintenance is an important part of ensuring their longevity. If you’re concerned about moisture and the functionality of your hearing aids, contact us at Kenwood Hearing Centers today. We provide comprehensive, professional hearing aid care and maintenance to keep you hearing at your best!

Posted in Hearing Aids