What Happens When The Audiologist Becomes A Patient?

November 20, 2018.  Most of us with hearing loss are used to going to an audiologist for ongoing hearing tests.  We’re told it takes about 7 years from the time someone is told they have hearing loss for that person to actually take steps to do something about it.  It’s brought up over and over again by audiology professionals that this is a bad thing to do.  Your hearing health is important, they will tell you, and of course that’s absolutely correct.

But, what happens when the audiologist becomes the patient or client?  Last month, while in Moncton, I had coffee with Dr Heidi Eaton of Argus Audiology.  If you attended our Tinnitus Seminar this spring, then you would have met Dr Eaton.

CIMG2693 Oct 9 2018 Daria with Heidi Eaton in Moncton

Daria, left, in Moncton with Dr Heidi Eaton of Argus Audiology. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

I now have two hearing aids”, she mentioned.  I asked what had changed since we’d met a few months ago. “I noticed I was very sensitive to noise.”  Sensitivity to loud sounds even has a term: hyperacusis.  As an audiologist, Dr Eaton knew that “sensory hearing loss, caused by the death of hearing cells in the hearing organ called the cochlea, leads to hearing loss, ringing in the ears and can also lead to sensitivity to loud sounds.”  Hearing loss runs in her family, but she was hoping there was another explanation.

She went for a hearing test and learned she had hearing loss.  As she explained, “I was so surprised by the results I asked my Audiologist to retest me. The results were the same.”  It was the moment she realized what her patients must go through:  “denial before acceptance”.  It gave her more empathy for the journey that patients must take before realizing that hearing loss is now their reality.

Dr Eaton’s candour in relating her experience was very much appreciated.  If you wish to read about her experience in her own words, here is the link:  https://www.dochearing.com/blog/from-audiologist-to-patient.

Dr Eaton’s explanation on sound sensitivity went a long way to finally explaining to me why certain high pitched sounds sound like I’m being stabbed.  The high pitched sounds made by over-excited or upset children in a restaurant, or in an enclosed space like a plane, can make me physically ill.    I get the same reaction from the smoke alarm in our house.  I used to have a similar reaction from our phone, but now we use a ringtone that doesn’t make me cringe.

If you’d like to read more about how the organization of cells in your inner ear enables the sense and sensitivity of hearing, see this link to an article from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary:  https://search.app.goo.gl/kezVc.  The first paragraph gives an excellent summary of the role cells play in our hearing.  “The loss of tiny cells in the inner ear, known as “hair cells,” is a leading cause of hearing loss, a public health problem affecting at least one out of three people over the age of 65. Of the two varieties of hair cells, the “outer hair cells” act as micromotors that amplify incoming sound, and the “inner hair cells” act to sense and transmit information about the sound to the brain. Hair cells do not regenerate on their own in human ears, and they can die away from a variety of factors including excessive noise exposure, certain medications, infection and as part of the natural aging process….

Have you had sensitivity to sounds?  If so, please share your experience. Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

Don’t miss our upcoming events:   

  • November Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Jessyca Bedard, Clinical Support & Business Development Manager for Oticon Medical Canada, who will talk about BAHAs (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids) and other Oticon products. The presentation will be followed by our Annual General Meeting.
  • Presentation: Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg have been invited to talk about the pocket talker project with the Law Foundation of PEI and PEI lawyers at the upcoming meeting of the PEI Seniors Secretariat on November 30, 2018.

Check out our Upcoming Events page for even more events.  (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/)

© Daria Valkenburg

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What Someone With Hearing Loss Might Like For A Holiday Present…..

November 15, 2018.  Now that the first snow has fallen here on the island, thoughts are turning to the annual holiday shopping spree.  “What can we get for our hard of hearing friends or relatives to help them be better able to communicate?” is a common query we get.  Who better to ask than those of us in the same boat!

Last year’s list was popular and this year we can add to it.  Here are some suggestions based on our own wish lists, or products we use and love:

Assistive Hearing Devices For Everyday Use:

  • A pocket talker(available from the PEI Chapter) – a small amplification device, suitable for one on one conversations, or for watching TV. If you, or your loved one, are reluctant to wear or are unable to wear a hearing aid, this is a great tool to take to important meetings such as with your lawyer, financial planner, or doctor.  Many PEI lawyers already use this tool for better communication with hard of hearing clients.
annie-lee-macdonald-with-pocketalker sarah macmillan cbc

Islanders who are hard of hearing are discovering how useful these Pockettalkers can be, thanks to a pilot project with P.E.I. lawyers. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

  • Vibrating alarm clock(available from the PEI Chapter) – has a pulsing vibration alarm. You can even get one that will shake the bed to get you awake.  Hmmm…. that’s good for anyone who has trouble getting out of bed in the morning!
  • Vibrating pillow alarm clock – a pillow that vibrates, shaking you awake!
  • Telephone with amplification and a telecoil – not only has the amplification needed for people with hearing loss, and a range of ringtones to choose from. It also has a telecoil that provides the clarity of sound that lets people enjoy conversations again.  The person using it will need to have the telecoil activated in their hearing aid or cochlear implant for the telecoil to work. You can buy a phone like this in places like Staples.  Look for the telecoil sign.
CIMG2540

Brief explanation from the user guide.

  • FitBit – not just for those interested in exercise, but also great for those with hearing loss as you get a vibration on your wrist to let you know when you are getting a call or text on your phone! (See https://www.fitbit.com/en-ca/home)  Jane Scott told us that: “I rely on it quite a bit to know when there is a message on my phone.”  If you’ve missed calls or texts because your phone is stashed away in a pocket or in your purse, then a FitBit may be for you.
  • A Live Caption App for a smartphone or tablet – converts speech into text.  Visit livecaptionapp.com and download for under $7.
  • Hard of Hearing button (available from the PEI Chapter) imagine how nice it would be never to have to explain to someone that you are hard of hearing, when you can wear a button that says you are hard of hearing!

CIMG7617 Jun 27 2017 HOH buttons for sale

Hearing Loop Assistive Devices To Give You Clarity Of Sound:

With places on the island that are looped, with what we hope is only the beginning of looped facilities, and Islanders who love to travel, a hearing loop assistive device may be just what you are looking for.

Speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee wrote the following after sharing a recent blog posting with her students (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/2018/11/08/the-sound-through-a-hearing-loop/) “I had feedback this week from people who listened to the difference between the looped and unlooped sound ….and were amazed.     Even though we have talked about looping…and know that some have used it, I realized that there were those who still did not really ‘get’ it.

The hearing loop system used on PEI is the same one used in the rest of the world.  Whatever way you access the loop here on PEI, whether through a telecoil, a receiver, an app, or a pocket talker, will access the loop anywhere in the world that a hearing loop is installed!

If you have a hearing aid or cochlear implant but the telecoil  is NOT yet activated, talk to your audiologist.

If  you don’t wear a hearing aid or cochlear implant, or your hearing aid is not formatted for a telecoil, don’t worry.  You have three ways to access a hearing loop…….

  • If you have an iPad or iPhone, you can download the software for free at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/loopbuds/id1111272148?mt=8. Then you simply plug OTOjOY earbuds into your device (available from the PEI Chapter) and you will access the hearing loop. Unfortunately, at present, there is no software for Android devices.

Loop buds for iPhone (2)

  • If you have no telecoil nor an iPad or iPhone, you can purchase a small hearing loop receiver to access the loop (available from the PEI Chapter). Then, plug earbuds or headphones into the receiver to access the hearing loop.
PLR-BP1-Williams-Sound-Loop-System-Body-Pack-Rece

PLR-BP1-Williams-Sound-Loop-System-Body-Pack-Rece

  • If you have no telecoil nor an iPad or iPhone, one type of pocket talker has hearing loop software built into it (available from the PEI Chapter). If you already use a pocket talker, you may want to upgrade to this type of pocket talker as it does double duty.
    Pocketalker PKT2B (PKTD2.0) from Williams Sound

    Pocketalker PKT2B (PKTD2.0) from Williams Sound

     

Have you considered a chair loop pad? 

Another useful device is a chair loop pad, also called a hear pad or loop pad.  The pad replaces the hearing loop wire and is used where it isn’t possible or desirable to install an actual wire. The chair pad connects to the loop system.  The pad can be placed underneath you so that you can sit on it or it can be placed behind the head if a stronger signal is required.

The beauty of a chair pad is that it’s portable. Simply take the system, power supply, and chair pad with you. At your destination, you connect the amp to the TV, plug in the power supply, connect the chair pad, and you are now looped!

Some people, like Graham Hocking, also use a chair pad in the car.  It’s connected to the radio and plugs into the cigarette lighter.

CIMG2757 Oct 29 2018 Grahams chair looop

Graham Hocking shows his chair loop pad. Normally his wife sits in the passenger seat, but for the photo he placed it on her seat. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Just before you have hearing loss doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy concerts and plays:

Here are two suggestions for those who enjoy entertainment.

Donations that help others with hearing loss:

Consider a donation to the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing AssociationAs an organization made up of volunteers, 100% of your charitable donation is used for education and advocacy initiatives.  You can donate by cash or cheque to us directly, or online at:   https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708.

Here are two suggestions made by one of our members:

  • A $25 donation to fund more advocacy, outreach, and education in PEI.
  • A $100 donation to build a fund to support future looping projects.

There are many more items that can be added to this list, of course.  If you’ve tried any of these products, please share your experience. Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

Don’t miss our upcoming events:   

  • November Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Jessyca Bedard, Clinical Support & Business Development Manager for Oticon Medical Canada, who will talk about BAHAs (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids). The presentation will be followed by our Annual General Meeting.
  • Presentation: Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg have been invited to talk about the pocket talker project with the Law Foundation of PEI and PEI lawyers at the upcoming meeting of the PEI Seniors Secretariat on November 30, 2018.

Check out our Upcoming Events page for even more events.  (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/)

© Daria Valkenburg

 

The Sound Through A Hearing Loop

November 8, 2018.  Quite often, we’re asked what the difference is in what someone hears within a hearing loop and outside of a hearing loop.  We’ve sent links that others have shared with us, and encouraged people to visit venues on the island that have a hearing loop installed.  During a sound and equipment check for a presentation last week at South Shore United Church in Tryon, Jack Sorensen of the church made a recording for us.  He recorded the presenter, Pieter Valkenburg, as heard through a microphone by the front pew of the church, and as heard through the hearing loop.

Jane Scott and Don Gribble were kind enough to transfer the audio files to a website, which allowed us to provide the links you see below. Can you hear the difference in sound quality?

looped vs non looped

What was recorded through the microphone by the front pew of the church: 

https://soundcloud.com/user-82887253/zoom0013pieternonloopedmp3?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=email

What was recorded through the hearing loop:

https://soundcloud.com/user-82887253/zoom0012pieterloopedmp3?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=email

Several blog postings have been written on hearing loops and there is a site page on this blog for places on the island where a hearing loop has been installed (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/places-on-pei-equipped-with-a-hearing-loop/).

While we are at the beginning of looping projects on the island, other places have been very creative in making sure accessibility for those with hearing loss is a priority.  Previous postings have mentioned a number of places around the world.  This time, here is a link to a story about shoppers in one store in Maryland who can choose the ‘hearing loop lane’ when it’s time to pay!  See http://www.baltimoresun.com/bs-bz-wegmans-hearing-loops-20160116-story.html

Thank you to Jack, Jane, and Don for their help with the sound files.  Do you have a hearing loss issue you’d like to share?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Don’t miss our upcoming events:   

November Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Jessyca Bedard, Clinical Support & Business Development Manager for Oticon Medical Canada, who will talk about BAHAs (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids).  The presentation will be followed by our Annual General Meeting.

Presentation:  Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg have been invited to talk about the pocket talker project with the Law Foundation of PEI and PEI lawyers at the upcoming meeting of the PEI Seniors Secretariat on November 30, 2018.

Check out our Upcoming Events page for even more events.  (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/)

 

© Daria Valkenburg

Hearing Health Day in New Brunswick

November 5, 2018.  Last week four of us travelled from the island to Moncton, at the invitation of our colleagues there, to attend Hearing Health New Brunswick, an educational event put on by Avenir Hearing.  We had a chance to meet with people we don’t see often, and meet new friends, such as Jacqueline and Graham Hocking of England.

CIMG2754 Oct 29 2018 Hearing Health NB in Moncton

Seated, left to right: Brenda Porter, Annie Lee MacDonald, Daria Valkenburg, Jacqueline Hocking. Standing, left to right: Graham Hocking, Nancy MacPhee, Rheal Leger. (Photo taken by Rheal’s wife Simone.)

It was also an important event as it was a chance to socialize with other people with hearing loss and learn from their experiences and tips.  As this was an event put on by an audiology firm, we expected that there would be a focus on the goods and services provided by audiologists and their suppliers.  This was the case here, and there were a few very interesting products we might not have seen otherwise on the island.

However, I found it a bit disappointing that much of the focus was on what they could sell, not what could benefit a person with hearing loss, but might not cost a lot.  For example, there was no initial mention of telecoils, which can be activated in hearing aids at no additional cost.  Telecoils and hearing loops didn’t enter the discussion until some people from the audience asked about them.  Even if you are in an area with no venues equipped with a hearing loop, many electronic devices come with a telecoil.  For example, you can buy an inexpensive phone with a telecoil in a store like Staples.

One audiologist told about being on a bus tour in Ireland and telling the people behind him that he and his wife, who both wear hearing aids, couldn’t hear because of the background conversation behind them.  This was a bit puzzling as most tour buses in the European Union have a hearing loop.  The audiologist and his wife could have switched their hearing aids to the T-switch and heard the guide easily, without any background noise.  It was surprising that he did not seem to know much about telecoils.

A number of audience members commented that the international symbol for hearing loss was not displayed or explained.  The audiologist responding to the comment incorrectly said it was a symbol developed by a Canadian group  and wasn’t widely used or recognized. Several people corrected this misconception about the symbol’s origin, and asked why the audiology firms themselves didn’t display the sign.

The audience was told that it was up to those who have hearing loss to advocate for its use, which was correct.  However, no mention was made of the role that audiologists should play in building awareness.  The international symbol is used to identify places that that have had awareness training in communicating with people with hearing loss, or where there is an assistive listening device in place.  It was a reminder that we need to do more to build awareness of the international symbol here on the island.

Deafness_and_hard_of_hearing_symbol

International Symbol

So those were the not so great points from the day, but there were a number of positives as well.  There was a lot of very interesting and helpful information, which was summarized by Brenda Porter:

Information

  1. Lip reading provides 40% of info. Need to see lips.
  2. Remember that there is a difference between hearing and understanding.
  3. New technology for group conversation increases understanding by 61%.

Tips

  1. Hearing loss is a team sport. Partners and friends have to take part, work together and understand.
  2. For group conversation and at meetings say “I would love to participate fully in this conversation but you have to help me to do that”.
  3. Hearing aids are like false teeth. They don’t work when they are in the drawer.

Communication and Aging

  1. So important to enhance and maintain everyday conversation.
  2. Maintaining social role is very important. When there is a decrease in communication and a decrease in motivation, mood and general health are affected. Your roles of influence in the community- as leaders, providers- can diminish.
  3. Decrease in communication leads to cognitive disorders.

Seven Rules

  1. Let others know about your disability. Be up front.
  2. Develop strategies.
  3. Use sensory aids. Don’t be embarrassed.
  4. Demand access to better communication- hospital, community centre, church.
  5. Try to make your environment communication friendly.
  6. Ask for assistance if you need it. Talk to your doctor, physiotherapist, etc.
  7. Believe in your abilities. Your family and friends need you. Your community needs you.

FINAL TIP

You may lose your sight or your hearing but don’t lose your voice.

In the car going back home, we discussed whether the day had been worth it.  Yes, was the consensus.   While there is both information and misinformation in events such as these, it’s important to get out and hear what messages people are getting, meet people, and to have a chance to try out new technology.  We thank the people at Avenir Hearing for organizing this event.

Do you have a hearing loss issue you’d like to share?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Don’t miss our upcoming events:   

November Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Jessyca Bedard, Clinical Support & Business Development Manager for Oticon Medical Canada, who will talk about BAHAs (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids).  The presentation will be followed by our Annual General Meeting.

Presentation:  Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg have been invited to talk about the pocket talker project with the Law Foundation of PEI and PEI lawyers at the upcoming meeting of the PEI Seniors Secretariat on November 30, 2018.

Check out our Upcoming Events page for even more events.  (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/)

© Daria Valkenburg

Outreach Event At PEI Seniors Secretariat Conference In Montague

November 4, 2018.  Last week we hosted a table at the 7th Annual Learning and Caring for Ourselves Conference, an event hosted by the Seniors Secretariat of PEI at Montague Regional High School.  This was a relaxed event, with a small number of participants, and our table was well visited.

Some of the participants remembered us from last year’s ‘Pardon Me What Did You Say?’ Roadshow.  A few had heard us on one of the interviews given on CBC Radio.

Visitors were interested in hearing loops and pocket talkers and we were kept busy with explanations.

CIMG2752 Oct 27 2018 Senior Secretariat Conference Montague

Annie Lee MacDonald (left) and Daria Valkenburg (right) at Montague Regional High School. (Photo credit: Shelley Cole)

CIMG2750 Oct 27 2018 Senior Secretariat Conference Montague

Annie Lee MacDonald listens to a visitor at our table at Montague Regional High School. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Outreach events are very useful for us, as we not only have a chance to speak to people we wouldn’t otherwise see, we also get an idea for what issues are top of mind for people.  For a conference on seniors, it was also unfortunate that hearing health, let alone hearing loss, is still not a priority.

An interesting animated video entitled ‘The Science Of Hearing’, produced by the people who organize the TED Talks, explains the hearing process in five minutes. Take a look for yourselves:  http://mentalfloss.com/article/550074/learn-everything-you-need-know-about-science-hearing-five-minutes

Do you have a hearing loss issue you’d like to share?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Don’t miss our upcoming events:   

November Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Jessyca Bedard, Clinical Support & Business Development Manager for Oticon Medical Canada, who will talk about BAHAs (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids).  The presentation will be followed by our Annual General Meeting.

Presentation:  Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg have been invited to talk about the pocket talker project with the Law Foundation of PEI and PEI lawyers at the upcoming meeting of the PEI Seniors Secretariat on November 30, 2018.

Check out our Upcoming Events page for even more events.  (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/)

© Daria Valkenburg