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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.  

Posted in Uncategorized

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

Advantages of Rechargeable Hearing Aids

Advantages of Rechargeable Hearing Aids

Over the years, hearing aid batteries have gone through technological advancements, just like hearing aids have. The most common type of battery currently used in hearing aids is the zinc-air battery, which became popular after a ban on mercury-based batteries in 1996.

This type of battery offers the largest energy capacity in the smallest volume possible. Despite their small size, they can power something as complex as a hearing aid, so you can understand why they have become so popular in the hearing world.

The downside to zinc air batteries is that they don’t last very long. Depending on battery size and hearing aid features used, a zinc air battery lasts 3 to 14 days. Being disposable, they must be thrown out when the charge is used up. As you can imagine, this is not the ideal scenario for the user or for the environment.

Enter rechargeable batteries

Recent years have seen the introduction of rechargeable technology into the hearing world. With these hearing aid models, you simply replenish the battery with new energy through a charger at the end of the day.

Although they have gone through various iterations, the latest models of hearing aids use lithium-ion batteries, a marked improvement on previous innovations of rechargeable batteries. What are the advantages of this new rechargeable technology over disposable batteries?

1. Predictability

Most lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aids provide power for around 24 hours, so this makes them a natural candidate to be charged every night while you sleep, just like your phone. This means you can count on your hearing aids working all day without running low on power.

With disposable batteries, you don’t know when they are going to run out, increasing the chances that you’re going to be left stuck somewhere with no access to hearing aid batteries. You could be left without usage of your hearing aids if you do not carry backup batteries.

2. Convenience

It’s remarkably easy to recharge your hearing aids using rechargeable lithium power – just put them in the charger whenever you take them out. Some special chargers even dehumidify your hearing aids as you sleep. When you wake up, your hearing aids are ready to use. No low battery signals, no drug store trips, no replacement batteries.

3. Better for older adults

The purchasing and replacing of batteries can be difficult for older or mobility-limited users of hearing aids. They may not be able to buy batteries when needed, and those with limited motor skills could have difficulty opening the door to get to the batteries. As mentioned before, disposable batteries tend to be small, and they can be easily dropped or left on the ground, making them a safety hazard if there are young children or pets around.

You don’t have to worry about this with rechargeable hearing aids. Simply place them in the charger and forget about them until the next day.

4. Help save the environment

The average hearing aid user will go through about 350 disposable batteries over the lifespan of a hearing aid, and an estimated 1.6 billion hearing aid batteries are disposed of in landfills every year. Rechargeable hearing aids, which last multiple years with a single battery, help significantly to reduce this waste.

Kenwood Hearing Centers

Are you ready to experience the benefits of rechargeable power? If you’re looking to upgrade, visit us at Kenwood Hearing Centers for a risk-free Hearing Aid Test Drive™.

Posted in Hearing Aids

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

 

We love May. In May, we get to celebrate incoming summer weather, graduates, and our mothers. On top of this, we also get to celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month! During the entire month of May each year, the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), puts together a plethora of pertinent information regarding speech and hearing concerns throughout our communities. While the topics always surround speech and hearing, each year ASHA also assigns a specific theme to Better Speech and Hearing Month.

This year, the theme is: “Communication Across the Lifespan.”

All About Better Hearing and Speech Month

Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) was first brought to the public way back in 1927. Since then, ASHA has diligently hosted the event each and every year. The purpose of BHSM is to increase the public’s awareness about issues surrounding speech, language and hearing concerns. ASHA also hopes that BHSM will educate individuals about the life-altering and overwhelmingly positive benefits of seeking treatment for these issues. In honor of this year’s theme, “Communication Across the Lifespan”, we have decided to discuss the benefits of seeking treatment for hearing loss and speech issues at each stage in life.

Benefits of Treatment for Babies and Young Children

Babies and young children rely heavily on their sense of hearing to help them develop an understanding of their world. Babies’ sense of hearing develops before their sense of sight – even before birth! Babies with untreated hearing loss will not be able to develop an understanding of their world or speech skills like their peers without hearing loss. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available for babies and young children with hearing loss to overcome their issues. The earlier a child receives treatment, the better the outcomes!

Benefits of Treatment for School Aged Youth

School aged children with untreated hearing loss tend to fall behind in their progress in academic subjects as well as social situations. They may tend to be seen as “troublemakers” by their teachers because it can come across as if they are not listening or invested in what the teacher is saying. Studies have found that students who seek treatment for their hearing loss are able to progress at the same pace as their peers without hearing loss, both inside and outside the classroom.

Benefits of Treatment for Teens and College Students

Teenagers are at a very important developmental phase in their life. They are testing the boundaries on their surroundings and exert a lot of mental and emotional energy into their identities and how they fit into their social surroundings. If a teenager is having difficulties hearing, she will also experience difficulties in school and difficulties in social situations. Teenagers spend a majority of their leisure time in groups, and often in noisy environments. This can easily become very overwhelming and frustrating for a teenager dealing with untreated hearing loss. Once treated, these effects can be nearly eliminated, allowing teenagers to better socialize and learn – even in the noisy environments they seem to prefer!

Benefits of Treatment for Working Adults

Untreated hearing loss has been found to have a negative impact on social relationships, romantic relationships, and earning potential. Households where at least one income earner lives with untreated hearing loss earn about $12,000 less per year than their peers without hearing issues. Adults with untreated hearing loss are also seen as less competent and are more likely to be passed up for promotions. Luckily, treating hearing loss with hearing aids has been shown to negate these negative impacts and effectively level the playing field.

Benefits of Treatment for Older Adults

On top of all the aforementioned benefits of seeking treatment for hearing loss for working adults, there are also specific benefits for older adults and retirees. One of the biggest benefits of treating hearing loss for older adults is that treatment may prevent or delay the onset of cognitive decline and dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, hearing loss treatment is one of the most modifiable risks for the development of dementia. Through scientific research, it has been found that adults who choose to treat their hearing loss with hearing aids see a significant slowing in their cognitive decline.

Kenwood Hearing Centers

This May, why not take advantage of Better Hearing and Speech Month and get started on your journey to better hearing? Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Posted in Communication, Events, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Hearing Loss Treatment, News, Pediatric Hearing Loss

Symptoms of Memory Loss Could Actually Be Hearing Loss

Symptoms of Memory Loss Could Actually Be Hearing Loss

Symptoms of Memory Loss Could Actually Be Hearing Loss

For many people, memory loss is seen as something we all naturally develop as we get old. But there is a growing body of research that shows this isn’t true. While many of our bodily functions will feel the strain in later life, an accelerated deterioration can lead to some serious conditions such as dementia.

However, there are things we can do to mitigate the effects of ageing. Treating our hearing can play a big role in maintaining good brain functions. According to recent studies, older adults who are worried that they are showing early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease should also think about getting a hearing check-up.

The connection between brain health and hearing loss

“What might appear to be signs of memory loss could actually point to hearing issues,” according to Dr. Susan Vandermorris, one of the study’s authors and a clinical neuropsychologist at Baycrest Center for Geriatric Care in Toronto, Canada.

In the recent Baycrest study that she head-authored, which was published in the Canadian Journal on Aging, found that the majority of patients who tested for memory and thinking problems and potential brain disorders had a degree of hearing loss. Surprisingly, only one in five of the participants in the study suffering from hearing loss were currently using hearing aids.

“We commonly see clients who are worried about Alzheimer’s disease because their partner complains that they don’t seem to pay attention, they don’t seem to listen or they don’t remember what is said to them,” says Dr. Vandermorris. “Sometimes addressing hearing loss may mitigate or fix what looks like a memory issue. An individual isn’t going to remember something said to them if they didn’t hear it properly.” She’s suggesting that the person who supposed memory issues might simply have failed to receive the information, due to a hearing loss.

Another purported link between hearing loss and dementia is through social isolation. “People who can’t hear well have difficulty communicating and tend to withdraw from social activities as a way of coping,” says Dr. Vandermorris. “This can lead to isolation and loneliness, which can impact cognitive, physical and mental health.”

What is the process by which a person’s cognitive health is impacted? Those who have trouble hearing when talking to others find it tough to put together a group of random sounds into sentences that mean something. The listening might experience confusion and bewilderment at whoever is speaking. Language is closely related to the ability to think. Imagine how difficult it would be to try to think of a response to a person’s words at the same time as trying to understand what they are saying. This kind of strain on cognitive resources can lead to a cognitive load, exhausting the individual and making them more susceptible to a host of cognitive disorders.

Treating hearing loss can lead to improved brain health

The nature of hearing loss lends itself to developing memory loss much sooner. As the brain doesn’t receive as much stimulation from the environment as it should do when dealing with untreated hearing loss, the cells in the auditory centers of the brain start to atrophy. This affects overall brain health and can lead to difficulty focusing on specific tasks, communicating, and memory loss.

That is why it is important to get it treated as soon as possible. “Since hearing loss has been identified as a leading, potentially modifiable risk factor for dementia, treating it may be one way people can reduce the risk,” says Marilyn Reed, a fellow author on the study and practice advisor with Baycrest.

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in older adults, and is present in 50 per cent of individuals over the age of 65 and 90 per cent of people over the age of 80. People wait on average 10 years before seeking treatment and fewer than 25 per cent of individuals who need hearing aids will acquire them. “Some people may be reluctant to address hearing loss, but they need to be aware that hearing health is brain health and help is available,” Dr. Vandermorris says.

Are you concerned that your memory loss may be a sign of hearing loss? Why not book a hearing test with us today!

Posted in Brain Health, Cognitive Health, Dementia & Alzheimer's Disease, Hearing Loss, Hearing Loss Causes, Mental Health, News, Research, Science

On March 3, Celebrate World Hearing Day by Checking Your Hearing!

On March 3, Celebrate World Hearing Day by Checking Your Hearing!

On March 3, Celebrate World Hearing Day by Checking Your Hearing!

 

An exciting day is right around the corner: World Hearing Day! The World Health Organization established this annual holiday to promote awareness and healthy practices about your hearing. This year’s theme for March 3rd’s World Hearing Day is “Check Your Hearing!” When it comes to getting a hearing test, some people feel resistant to the exam. The World Health Organization’s suggestion is the first step to assure better hearing health now and far into the future.

Why World Hearing Day?

Based in Geneva, the World Health Organization is an international organization tasked with health education and promoting healthy practices to make the world a better place. They take hearing health very seriously, knowing that hearing problems and deafness afflict so many across the globe. We know the value of hearing loss prevention which includes wearing protection in the workplace, noisy environments, and even on public transportation. The World Health Organization acknowledges that some people are unaware of the hearing loss they have already experienced, whether through exposure to damaging noise levels or from other reasons. With those facts in mind, they established World Hearing Day to point people around to the world toward healthy hearing practices. This year’s theme is specifically focused on the necessity of checking your hearing.

Why Check My Hearing?

Many people find ways to avoid treatment and make accommodations for hearing loss, without realizing how much damage this can do to their overall health and well-being. The World Health Organization recommends that everyone over the age of 50 should have a regular hearing check, along with anyone under the age of 50 who works in a noisy environment or is otherwise exposed to loud sounds. Even those who simply enjoy listening to music at loud volumes, either at live concerts or through headphones or earbuds, put themselves at risk of damage.

A hearing test is an excellent way to monitor your hearing abilities. When our hearing ability starts to diminish, we begin to work around gaps in our listening experience, both consciously and unconsciously. Consciously, you may avoid situations that will make hearing very difficult, such as a dinner with family or friends in a noisy restaurant. You may also find yourself hesitant to attend a party where voices will be difficult to make out in conversation. In addition to these conscious decisions, you may be doing things unconsciously to assist your own hearing. Some of these tactics include watching the mouth of a speaker to get extra help understanding what they have to say, reading between the lines in conversations by searching for context clues, and orienting your body in a way to maximize hearing ability.

Although these strategies and habits can be effective to a point, they do not provide the assistance needed to truly address hearing loss. The results of a hearing test give you a full picture of your hearing abilities and play a crucial role in treating hearing loss.

Treating Hearing Loss with Kenwood Hearing Centers

Hearing loss affects many different areas of your life, from your relationships to your physical and emotional health. Seeking treatment for hearing loss brings significant benefits beyond simply the ability to hear. Even if an annual hearing test finds that you do not have a hearing loss, establishing a baseline of your hearing ability is useful for monitoring your overall health and well-being. If a hearing loss is found, our team at Kenwood Hearing Centers will consult with you to review the details of your exam, and help you understand why certain environments and situations may make conversations difficult.

With this knowledge in hand, our team can make recommendations to allow you to be more confident in situations when listening is challenging. Often this recommendation will include the use of hearing aids, and the World Health Organization concurs that these should be made available to all with hearing loss around the world. Approximately 466 million people live with hearing loss around the world, and these measures can move many of these people from disability to recovered ability through assistance. This March, get on board with World Hearing Day, and schedule your test with us at Kenwood Hearing Centers!

Posted in Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Hearing Testing, Holidays, News

Nonverbal Cues to Help You in Meetings

Nonverbal Cues to Help You in Meetings

Nonverbal Cues to Help You in Meetings

For better or for worse, meetings are a key part of working life. You might spend more time in meetings than you think, and studies show that middle managers usually spend 35% of their time meeting co-workers. For those in upper management, you likely spend half of your time locked in the meeting room. And this number is rising – the time Americans spend in meetings has risen by 10% each year since 2000.

Working with Hearing Loss

The Hearing Loss Association of America found that 60% of Americans with hearing loss are still working or in education. This means that over half of the working population may be struggling to understand their colleagues in meetings and learning institutions across the country. This lack of understanding might be the reason those with untreated hearing loss typically make on average $20,000 less per year than those who wear hearing aids! This makes sense: communication is the bedrock of all well-functioning teams and if communication breaks down, then productivity will suffer. That’s why it’s so important for those with hearing loss to follow certain strategies to maximize their effectiveness in meetings.

Nonverbal Cues to Help You in Meetings

For anyone looking to pick up on non-verbal cues, it can be helpful to learn from those who use them all day, every day. Laurie Achin is deaf, and she’s an American Sign Language faculty member at Northeastern University. She is an expert in studying facial expressions, gestures, and body language to find the nuances that add layers of meaning to people’s words. A lot can be inferred through how a person walks, sits in a chair, or takes a sip of water. What can we learn from her and others like her in order to become more effective in meetings?

Recognize the way people show understanding

Many people rely on backchannels to make sure they’ve been understood. These are the ‘uh huhs’ and ‘hmms’ we say when listening to someone speak. As these are less accessible to those with hearing loss, try leading by example and nodding along when you are understanding a point that someone has made. We humans tend to mirror the actions of our peers, and this can influence others to communicate visually rather than audibly.

Be aware of body language after any important point that you are making. If your colleagues are nodding along then it is obviously a good sign – as is eye contact while you are talking.

Recognize signals that others want to speak

If someone is restless in their chair when you’re speaking, it usually means that your colleague wants to speak, so make some space to allow them to enter the conversation. If you are in an online meeting without video, you won’t be able to notice small things like these. In that case, it is useful to establish a period of silence at the end of each section, which allows space for people to add their own thoughts or ask any questions they might have. Another way to enhance communication in an online meeting is to use a program that allows other users to send public messages during the meeting without interrupting the speaker.

Recognize signs that someone needs to interrupt

You can usually tell when someone wants to interrupt. Interrupting isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and sometimes your colleague may have a pertinent point to add to the topic that everyone needs to hear. While some approaches to interrupting might seem a little rude, such as tapping someone on the shoulder or a waving your hand to get attention, there are other ways to interject a thought into the conversation.

The solution is to ensure that everyone has a chance to speak. You’ll know that someone wants to interrupt if they’re squirming in their chair, leaning forward, or even raising their shoulders towards their ears. Noticing these nonverbals and giving them a chance to speak will solve the tendency of people to interrupt each other, and give everyone an opportunity to listen more attentively to all opinions.

Take steps to treat your hearing loss with Kenwood Hearing Centers

In addition to these communication tips, wearing hearing aids to treat your hearing loss is one of the most important ways to ensure you have a happy and successful working life. For a comprehensive hearing exam and expert hearing aid fitting, contact Kenwood Hearing Centers today!

Posted in Communication, Hearing Loss, Tips and Tricks

Hearing Loss Among Assisted Living Residents: Earwax May Be the Culprit

Hearing Loss Among Assisted Living Residents: Earwax May Be the Culprit

Hearing Loss Among Assisted Living Residents: Earwax May Be the Culprit

The main culprit to hearing loss among seniors is presbycusis — hearing loss due to aging — but more and more hearing care specialists and providers are meeting patients who experience hearing loss due to earwax buildup. Earwax is one of the most common causes of conductive hearing loss, blockage to the inner ear canal. Luckily for you and your loved ones, it is the most treatable. Read on to learn about the function of earwax, how excessive buildup can lead to hearing loss, and the best steps in addressing the problems.

Earwax is Actually Useful to our Bodies

When you think of earwax, you generally are turned off by that nasty, oily, greasy substance lying on the inner canals of your ear. You might even want to get rid of it as much as you can. But before you do, understand that it plays an important function in protecting our ears.

Cerumen, as earwax is scientifically known, naturally forms in our ears as a barrier in stopping dust, debris, or dirt from entering the deep, often sensitive parts of your ear. Earwax also plays a role as moisturizer for one’s outer ear, preventing any dryness, irritation, or infection. It also protects any type of bugs or critters from entering your inner ear as the smell of earwax is odious to bugs.

Our ears are designed to clean themselves. Once the earwax accumulates too much dirt or dry skin, it naturally detaches from the sides of our ears. Chewing or moving your jaw also helps loosen the earwax to the outer parts where it eventually falls out or is washed away when we shower. In some instances, though, certain people’s ears may produce excess wax that could lead to conductive hearing loss.

Impaction: When Earwax Builds Up in Your Ear

According to Jackie Clark, president of the American Academy of Audiology, excessive amounts of earwax buildup could lead to hearing loss. Earwax buildup or impaction may cause more than just the inability to hear clearly. Other symptoms include earaches, a feeling of fullness or clogging in the ear, or even tinnitus — the ringing or buzzing noise in the ear. If excessive earwax is not removed, this could lead to infection, severe pain, drainage from the ear, or fever-like symptoms.

Earwax impaction is particularly common among seniors, although it can impact people of all ages. Studies have shown that nearly thirty percent of elderly people face earwax buildup to the point where it can completely block the canal. Of the 2.2 million people who live in U.S. assisted living facilities or nursing homes, nearly two-thirds of them suffer from this condition.

A study conducted in Japan in 2014 researched the effect of cerumen impaction on hearing and cognitive functions in elderly Japanese patients. The findings revealed significant improvements in hearing and cognitive performance in these patients once the impacted earwax was removed.

Safely Removing Earwax Buildup

We have been consistently told that cotton swabs, or Q-Tips, are the best products to use to clean our ears and to remove earwax, but, that is actually the last thing you should be doing. These types of objects could actually damage your hearing. Cotton swabs or any small foreign objects that could fit in our ears actually push earwax further back into the canal, leading to further obstruction in hearing. The best way to care for your ears is to let them clean themselves.

If you experience earwax buildup that may cause a hearing loss, the good news is that cerumen impaction can be easily treated by a hearing specialist. Professionals can identify if there is earwax buildup or not using an otoscope, a device that allows them to look deep inside the ear. If there is buildup, application of commercial ear drops or saline, or usage of either syringe or curette is the safest option for removal.

Visit us at Kenwood Hearing Centers

Setting up an appointment with a licensed hearing healthcare professional is the best option towards regaining hearing and improving cognitive health. Contact us at Kenwood Hearing Centers for a hearing assessment or test, and we’ll help be able to address any hearing issues you may have!

Posted in Age-Related Hearing Loss, Earwax, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Hearing Loss Causes, News, Research