A Pocket Talker Can Open Up Your World

December 11, 2017.  Over the past year, through a grant with the Law Foundation of PEI, our Chapter has been working with PEI lawyers on improving communications with the hard of hearing.  One of the technological tools introduced to them was a simple pocket talker.  The results have been amazing and encouraging and lawyers who have tried using this small device with their clients have not only embraced it, but introduced it to many of their own clients.

Using a tool for better communication makes good business and legal sense, but letting their hard of hearing clients, especially those in seniors’ homes, and friends know about the pocket talker is a valuable community service that lawyers have provided.  We are delighted that the Law Foundation of PEI has funded the program for a second year.

CIMG9657 Dec 4 2017 Law Foundation of PEI Sheila Daria Annie Lee

Law Foundation of PEI Executive Director Sheila Lund MacDonald goes over grant details with Daria Valkenburg and Annie Lee MacDonald.

Several residents in seniors’ homes have since purchased a pocket talker for themselves.  One home, Geneva Villa, called us after a lawyer suggested it might be useful.  After purchasing one pocket talker and giving it to a resident to try out, they ended up buying another as the resident didn’t want to give it back.  It’s amazing what happens when people can hear again.  The world opens up!  Life becomes more interesting and fun when you are able to communicate.

CIMG9677 Dec 11 2017 Geneva Villa Liz Flack Diane McQuaid Annie Lee

Liz Flack and Diane McQuaid of Geneva Villa receive a pocket talker from CHHA PEI President Annie Lee MacDonald (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

So, with the holidays approaching, we at CHHA PEI want to thank not only the lawyers who supported and helped spread the word about tools for better communication, but also the purchasers of pocket talkers who have recommended it to their own friends and relatives.  May 2018 be the year for better hearing on Prince Edward Island!

Next Chapter meeting: Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at North Tryon Presbyterian Church

Do you have a story or tip about improving communication when you are hard of hearing? Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

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All I Want For Christmas…..

December 8, 2017.  With the holidays approaching, many of us are asked “What can we get for our hard of hearing friends or relatives to help them be better able to communicate?”  Who better to ask than those of us in the same boat!

Here are a few suggestions based on our own wish lists, or products we use and love:

  • A pocket talker – (available through CHHA PEI) – a small amplification device, suitable for one on one conversations, or for watching TV. Many PEI lawyers use this tool for better communication with hard of hearing clients.

annie-lee-macdonald-with-pocketalker sarah macmillan cbc

  • TV ears – a device that connects to your TV, cable box, or satellite box. The transmitter then sends audio wirelessly to the headset worn by the user.
  • Vibrating alarm clock – has a pulsing vibration alarm.
  • Vibrating pillow alarm clock – a pillow that vibrates, shaking you awake!
  • Telephones with amplification – increases the call volume output of telephones so those who are hard of hearing can hear better on the telephone.
  • FitBit – not just for those interested in exercise, but also great for the hard of hearing as you get a vibration on your wrist to let you know when you are getting a call or text on your phone! Read Jane’s story below.
  • 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 – 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! Available from the PEI Chapter for $2 each.

CIMG7617 Jun 27 2017 HOH buttons for sale

  • Membership in the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – for an annual membership fee of $35, you get to meet the nicest group of people, all of whom have hearing loss!
  • A Donation to the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – we are a charitable organization. As an organization made up of volunteers, 100% of your donation is used for education and advocacy initiatives.

My friend Jane shared her experience with the FitBit…. I got my Fit Bit in September and am very pleased with it. As a personal fitness tracker it helps keep track of my activity, gives be a nudge by way of a vibration if I haven’t moved or when I have achieved my target number of steps for the day.  It also tells me how long and how well I slept and can track weight loss.  This is all wonderful.  Some of the more sophisticated ones also track heart rate and stair climbing but I opted for the simplest model.

As a person who is hard of hearing and whose phone is often buried in my purse, I often miss calls and texts because I don’t hear it ring/ping.  With the FitBit I now get a vibration notification on my wrist when my cell phone rings or a message is received even if my phone is in another room or on another floor in the house.  Some of the more sophisticated models also have a visual screen so you can read your text messages or see who called.

So I would say, for general healthy living, a FitBit is a wonderful gift, but for those of us that are hard of hearing it has the added advantage of giving us additional cues from our phones.  It’s super simple and it works.

Next Chapter meeting: Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at North Tryon Presbyterian Church

Do you have anything to add to this list?  If you have tried any of these products, please share your experience, as Jane did. Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

© Daria Valkenburg

The ‘Pardon Me, What Did You Say?’ Roadshow At West River United Church in Cornwall

December 7, 2017.  On November 27, 2017 we had our 8th, and last presentation for the booklet ‘Pardon Me, What Did You Say? Navigating in the hard of hearing world’ at the West River United Church in Cornwall, Prince Edward Island.  This was a lively group of 14 people, resulting in a total reach over the 8 presentations of 268 participants.  In addition to the CHHA PEI committee members for the project of Annie Lee MacDonald, Brenda Porter, and Daria Valkenburg, we were joined by CHHA PEI members Margaret MacPhail and Marion Toole as hosts.

Catherine Freeze, Seniors Policy Advisor for the PEI Department of Family and Human Services attended this session.  One of Catherine’s files is the PEI Seniors Secretariat, which hosted the PEI Party Line.  Brenda Porter participated in one of the sessions on November 22, discussing the booklet.  In addition, the PEI Seniors Secretariat provided our Chapter with a grant for seminars, one of which was the successful ‘Demystifying Cochlear Implants’ seminar with Dr. David Morris in October.

CIMG9647 Nov 27 2017 West River United Church Cornwall

Left to right: Daria Valkenburg, Marion Toole, Catherine Freeze, Brenda Porter. (Photo credit: Gerry Gray)

The evaluations continue to be positive, and all the participants filled out an evaluation.  7 participants identified as hard of hearing (50%), 5 not, and 2 did not answer the question.  9 (64%) noted that they had close friends or family members who were hard of hearing.

One of the questions asked in the evaluations is ‘How involved are you now socially – with family, friends in the community?’, and people had the option of answering ‘Rarely’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘Often, or ‘Frequently’.  As per our expectation, people who came out to the presentation were active socially. No one answered ‘Rarely’.

Comments in the evaluations included:

  • Great tips, great presenter.
  • Get this info to home care and community care staff, and nursing homes. They need training.
  • Very timely presentation on an important topic. More awareness needed in general on this issue, especially with service providers and healthcare workers.
  • Very practical collection of useful tips.
  • Excellent presentation – thank you!

One of the questions asked was whether people wanted to be contacted for a follow-up to the presentation.  10 answered yes and provided contact details.

This concluded the round of 8 presentations and one presentation by telephone for this year.  All of us at the Chapter extend our thanks to the venues that hosted us, and to all the participants who took time out of their busy lives to come out and learn about ways to improve communications with those who are hard of hearing.

Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons For Seniors Program, the booklet was written by members of CHHA PEI, and illustrated by artist Wayne Wright.

Next Chapter meeting: Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at North Tryon Presbyterian Church

Do you have a tip or story to share about hearing loss, or living with someone who is hard of hearing?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

The ‘Pardon Me, What Did You Say?’ Roadshow At Alberton Arts & Heritage Centre

December 7, 2017.  On November 20, 2017 we had our 7th, and penultimate at the Arts & Heritage Centre in Alberton.  This was our smallest presentation, with 9 people, resulting in a reach of 254 participants to date.  In addition to the CHHA PEI committee members for the project of Annie Lee MacDonald, Brenda Porter, and Daria Valkenburg, we were joined by CHHA PEI members Alma Nunn and Fran Salsman as hosts.

The evaluations continue to be positive, and all the participants filled out an evaluation.  7 participants identified as hard of hearing (77.8%), 2 not.  5 (55.5%) noted that they had close friends or family members who were hard of hearing.

One of the questions asked in the evaluations is ‘How involved are you now socially – with family, friends in the community?’, and people had the option of answering ‘Rarely’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘Often, or ‘Frequently’.  As per our expectation, people who came out to the presentation were active socially. No one answered ‘Rarely’.

Comments in the evaluations included:

  • Good presentation and booklet
  • I enjoyed the presentation and will use some suggestions
  • Very helpful

One of the questions asked was whether people wanted to be contacted for a follow-up to the presentation.  8 answered yes and provided contact details.

The booklet is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons For Seniors Program, was written by members of CHHA PEI, and illustrated by artist Wayne Wright.

Do you have a tip or story to share about hearing loss, or living with someone who is hard of hearing?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

© Daria Valkenburg

Executive Board Installed at Annual General Meeting

December 6, 2017.  On November 28, 2017, CHHA PEI held its annual general meeting, at which the executive board was installed.

CIMG9651 Nov 28 28 2017 CHHA PEI board

The executive board for 2018, from left to right: Annie Wood, Treasurer; Joan Gallant, Secretary; Daria Valkenburg, Public Relations & Advocacy Officer; Brenda Porter, Vice-President; Annie Lee MacDonald, President. (Photo credit: Marie McKenna)

The annual general meeting was followed by the regular monthly meeting.  A Christmas game played during the break was won by Brenda Porter, and her prize was a unique pair of socks that got everyone’s interest!

CIMG9650 Nov 28 2017 CHHA PEI meeting Brenda won socks in Xmas quiz contest

Brenda Porter displays the socks she won. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Although our blog is active, we are always available by email, and we will continue to work behind the scenes on the projects for 2018, our next meeting will not be until Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Do you have a tip or story to share?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

 © Daria Valkenburg

Interview About Cochlear Implants With Dr. Jodi Ostroff Of MED-EL

November 29, 2017.  On October 14, 2017, CHHA PEI hosted a seminar on ‘Demystifying Cochlear Implants’ with Dr. David Morris.  One of the sponsors of the seminar was MED-EL, a supplier of cochlear implants.  We were fortunate to have Dr. Jodi Ostroff, Clinical Account Manager for Canada, come to the event and answer questions from the participants who visited the MED-EL booth.

So many people had questions that we asked our sponsors if they would consent to an interview to answer specific questions.  Dr. Ostroff graciously took the time to do so. As part of this Chapter’s mandate is to provide information of interest to those with hearing loss, this interview is the subject of this blog entry.

Jodi Ostroff

Jodi Ostroff, PhD, Clinical Account Manager- Canada for MED-EL

Question 1:  What is the shelf life of my Cochlear Implant (CI)?

Dr. Ostroff:  In theory, a CI can last a lifetime and many people have had their implants for over 30 years with no problems. However, realistically, if a child today was implanted with a cochlear implant, they would likely require a new implant at least once or twice in their lifetime. That is why MED-EL has a very strong philosophy and consistent development of cochlear implants that are “atraumatic” – meaning causing as little trauma to the delicate structures of the cochlea as possible. MED-EL wants cochlear implant recipients to be able to take advantage of any future technologies that may be developed for people with hearing loss. So they have designed their cochlear implants to be as atraumatic as possible in order to preserve those structures for the future.

 Question 2.  What happens to my CI when I go:

Dr. Ostroff:    a) through airport security – nothing interesting. Just remember to take off your processor and tell the security people that you have a CI. Good idea to take your patient ID card with you whenever you travel. Better yet, keep it in your wallet at all times!

b) for an X-ray – same as above.

 c) for an MRI – it depends which implant you have. The MRI technicians or radiologist can look up the Instructions For Use (on the MED-EL website) or call MED-EL for assistance regarding your particular implant type to determine how to proceed with an MRI for your specific implant. It’s always best to have your patient ID card in your wallet, which indicates which implant you have. The MED-EL Synchrony cochlear implant is the only implant that is safe for MRI up to 3.0 Tesla (Tesla = the strength of the magnet inside the MRI machine).

d) swimming – swim away! Just take off your speech processor first.

MED-EL has WaterWear which are waterproof plastic sheaths that can be placed over your speech processor to allow you to swim with the processor without worry of damaging the device.

e) skiing (and other sports activities) – most sports are fine – just make sure to wear a helmet to protect your head and the implant inside it if it’s a sport where there is a risk that you could fall and hit your head.

 Question 3.  If I’m a singer or musician, will my musical tonal ability be restored?

Dr. Ostroff: A lot of CI recipients are disappointed with the sound of music when they receive their implant. This is mostly due to the fact that cochlear implants are designed and engineered to transmit speech as effectively and naturally as possible. Music has characteristics that are different from speech and most cochlear implants are not engineered to best reproduce music. However, MED-EL has a sound processing strategy that is proven to provide good music appreciation to recipients who use that processing strategy.

Question 4.  If I’m a child, do I need another CI when I’m an adult?

Dr. Ostroff:  It’s likely that children will need to have their CI replaced one or more times in their lifetime – possibly every 25-30 years.

 Question 5.  Does my CI come in different colours?

Dr. Ostroff:  The part of the CI system that you wear on the outside of your head that looks like a hearing aid is called a speech processor. Speech processors are usually offered in different colours and sometimes patterns.

 Question 6.  What is the warranty on my CI?

Dr. Ostroff:  The warranty varies per implant manufacturer. MED-EL’s internal implant (the part that is implanted into the cochlea and behind the ear under the skin) is under warranty for 10 years. The speech processor and most of its external components are under warranty for 5 years.

 Question 7.  Do you offer clinics or other support here on the island?

Dr. Ostroff:  Patients with cochlear implants in any part of Canada would normally reach out to the centre and the audiologist where they received their implant. However, MED-EL recipients can contact the 24 hour audiology support number (888-633-3524). If a CI recipient would like to exchange something under warranty or order spare parts, they can contact our distributor in Toronto – Union Hearing Aid Centre – (866-269-8880) – they offer free shipping on orders over $50.

 Question 8.  Everyone is talking about remote access. I don’t even use a computer, so how can I do this?

Dr. Ostroff:  MED-EL does offer remote programming but remote access is usually for the audiologists so that they can program your cochlear implant remotely – without you having to come into the clinic.

 Question 9.  Is my CI accessible for hearing loops?  While we don’t have much looped sites on the island yet, we will be receiving funding to nudge that project along.

Dr. Ostroff: Yes. MED-EL CI speech processors have a telecoil built into them so you can access hearing loops.

 Question 10.  If a better model comes along, can I exchange my CI?

Dr. Ostroff: You mean your speech processor! When a new generation of speech processor is developed, you will have the opportunity to upgrade (i.e. exchange) to it. However, you do not NEED to upgrade your speech processor when a new one comes out. MED-EL is the only manufacturer that insists on making every single one of their speech processors backwards compatible to the very first cochlear implant (internal components) that they ever produced. We want to leave no patient behind! Depending on the funding in your province, there will be different costs associated with upgrading your speech processor.

 Question 11. What is in my toolkit (the accessories package) and how do I use it?

Dr. Ostroff: That depends on when you received your cochlear implant. However, MED-EL CI recipients are currently receiving the following items in their patient kit:

1 SONNET Control Unit — Including Earhook, Microphone Cover, and Earhook Pin
1 FineTuner With Battery
1 SONNET Battery Pack Frame
2 SONNET Battery Pack Covers
1 DL-Coil Base (with #2S and #3S magnet inserts)
1 DL-Coil Cover L without lock
1 DL-Coil Cover L with lock
2 SONNET DL-Coil Cables 6.5 cm

1 SONNET Earhook & Pin

4 SONNET Microphone Covers
1 SONNET FM Battery Pack Cover
1 EuroAudio (3-pin) Adaptor Cable
1 Electrical Drying System
2 Zinc-Air Battery Packages
1 Speech Processor Test Device
1 Audio Processor Tool & Brush
1 DL-Coil Manual
2 User Manuals (English/French)
1 Registration Card

FM connectivity – Roger Pen and RogerX receiver or Roger MyLink receiver

Rechargeable batteries

 If you need help, you can contact your CI audiologist, or the MED-EL 1-888-633-3524 number.

This concluded the interview. If there is sufficient interest on the island, MED-EL is willing to come to PEI in 2018 to do a “What’s In My Toolkit” seminar.  If you are a MED-EL recipient of a CI and this is of interest to you, let us know.

Do you have a tip or story to share about cochlear implants, or living with someone who has a cochlear implant?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

The ‘Pardon Me, What Did You Say?’ Roadshow At North Rustico Seniors Club

November 29, 2017.  With our sixth presentation on November 15, 2017 at the North Rustico Seniors Club, at which 14 people participated, we had reached 245 participants.  In addition to the CHHA PEI committee members for the project of Annie Lee MacDonald, Brenda Porter, and Daria Valkenburg, we were joined by CHHA PEI members Joan Gallant and Marie and Bernard McKenna as hosts.

The evaluations continue to be positive, and 13 participants filled out an evaluation.  8 participants identified as hard of hearing (61.5%), 5 not.  8 (61.5%) noted that they had close friends or family members who were hard of hearing.

One of the questions asked in the evaluations is ‘How involved are you now socially – with family, friends in the community?’, and people had the option of answering ‘Rarely’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘Often, or ‘Frequently’.  As per our expectation, people who came out to the presentation were active socially. No one answered ‘Rarely’.

Comments in the evaluations included:

  • Need to educate the medical profession as they have a mental block about hearing loss.
  • I have asked our priest to have copies made of his sermon so I can follow it.
  • Great presentation, very helpful.
  • An excellent new awareness!!
  • I am quite active socially, but I did get some really good ideas and suggestions as to what and how to tell people re my hearing loss.
  • Thanks for the booklet.
  • “Slower, not louder” is a good tip.
  • Very educational.

One of the questions asked was whether people wanted to be contacted for a follow-up to the presentation.  10 answered yes and provided contact details.

The booklet is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons For Seniors Program, was written by members of CHHA PEI, and illustrated by artist Wayne Wright.

Do you have a tip or story to share about hearing loss, or living with someone who is hard of hearing?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

© Daria Valkenburg

The ‘Pardon Me, What Did You Say?’ Roadshow At Silver Threads Seniors Club in Souris

November 23, 2017.  After our fourth presentation on November 1, 2017, we had reached 214 participants.  On November 8, we were at the Silver Threads Seniors Club in Souris, where an additional 17 participants came to the presentation, making it 231 reached to date.

IMG_1945 from Annie Lee Nov 8 2017 Silver Threads Senior Club in Souris

Left to right: Annie Lee MacDonald, Daria Valkenburg, Bonnie Bertelsen from Silver Threads Senior Club, and presenter Brenda Porter. (Photo credit: Gerry Gray)

We weren’t sure how many people to expect in Souris, but thought it might be more than 17.  Never mind.  Those who came listened attentively. The evaluations continue to be positive, and 15 participants filled out an evaluation.  6 participants identified as hard of hearing (40%), 9 not.  9 (60%) noted that they had close friends or family members who were hard of hearing.

One of the questions asked in the evaluations is ‘How involved are you now socially – with family, friends in the community?’, and people had the option of answering ‘Rarely’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘Often, or ‘Frequently’.  As per our expectation, people who came out to the presentation were active socially. No one answered ‘Rarely’.

Comments in the evaluations included:

  • Great presentation – lots of good ideas.
  • Wish we’d had the presentation five years ago. Reducing the stigma for my mother around her shame in being hard of hearing.  Hope this message got through today.
  • I can relate to all you said. I never hear the punch line (of a joke).
  • Informative and interesting information.

One of the questions asked was whether people wanted to be contacted for a follow-up to the presentation.  9 answered yes and provided contact details.

The booklet is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons For Seniors Program, was written by members of CHHA PEI, and illustrated by artist Wayne Wright.

One more presentation is coming up on the island.  If you are hard of hearing and have not attended a session, this is your last chance.

  • November 27 at 2:00 pm – West River United Church in Cornwall

REMINDER: Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, starting at 9:30 am, at the North Tryon Presbyterian Church.

Do you have a tip or story to share about hearing loss, or living with someone who is hard of hearing?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

© Daria Valkenburg

Upcoming Event: CHHA PEI On PEI Secretariat’s Party Line

November 21, 2017. Not long ago, we let you know that CHHA PEI will be participating in a special event organized by the PEI Seniors Secretariat, the PEI Party Line.

On November 22, 2017, between 10:00 and 10:40 am, Brenda Porter will be interviewed on the Party Line call about our new booklet, ‘Pardon Me, What Did You Say?  A Guide to Navigating in the Hard of Hearing World’.

Anyone is welcome to call in, and calls are toll-free.  Here is the information to make the call:

Dial in: 1-866-279-1594

Program code: 777920#

And don’t forget about our upcoming meeting on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, beginning at 9:30 am, at North Tryon Presbyterian Church in North Tryon.

Do you have a tip or story to share?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

© Daria Valkenburg

The ‘Pardon Me, What Did You Say?’ Roadshow At Seniors Active Living Centre in Charlottetown

November 18, 2017.  November 1, 2017 saw our Chapter members continue with the roadshow of presentations on tips for better communication with the hard of hearing continued.  After giving successful presentations at two Women’s Institute Fall Rallies (about 165 women in total), and Andrews of Stratford (30 participants, both men and women), we gave a presentation at the Seniors Active Living Centre in Charlottetown.

The turnout for this event, which was open to the public, was disappointing, with 19 participants, both men and women. As with the other three presentations made, all the evaluations were positive, and each participant filled out an evaluation.  8 participants identified as hard of hearing (42%), 11 not.  8 (42%) noted that they had close friends or family members who were hard of hearing.

One of the questions asked in the evaluations is ‘How involved are you now socially – with family, friends in the community?’, and people had the option of answering ‘Rarely’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘Often, or ‘Frequently’.  As per our expectation that people who came out to the presentations across the island were active socially, all except one answered ‘Often’ or ‘Frequently’.  Only one person answered ‘Sometimes’.

Comments in the evaluations included:

  • This is a very useful project. Thank you.
  • It would be useful to have info on various types of assisted listening devices that may be useful. (This person should come out to the Chapter meetings, and follow the Chapter’s blog, where this information is regularly provided!)
  • With many members of the Seniors Active Living Centre members being hard of hearing, these tips will be useful.
  • Excellent presentation. Very informative.
  • I will be looking into your speech reading classes and tinnitus seminar.
  • Would like to have the doctor suggest or schedule a hearing test for the 60+, similar to what’s done for eyesight. (That’s a very good point!)

One of the questions asked was whether people wanted to be contacted for a follow-up to the presentation.  10 answered yes and provided contact details.

The booklet is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons For Seniors Program, was written by members of CHHA PEI, and illustrated by artist Wayne Wright.

Two more presentations are coming up on the island.  If you are hard of hearing and have not attended a session, these are your last two chances.

  • November 20 at 1:30 pm – Arts and Heritage Centre in Alberton
  • November 27 at 2:00 pm – West River United Church in Cornwall

Next meeting: Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, starting at 9:30 am, at the North Tryon Presbyterian Church.

Do you have a tip or story to share about hearing loss, or living with someone who is hard of hearing?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

© Daria Valkenburg