Holiday Dinners and Parties – Fun or a Nightmare?

December 2005.  Christmas glasses on dining room table.

Preparing for a holiday get-together.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

December 6, 2019.  The holidays…. family dinners, cookie exchanges with your friends, get-togethers with friends and neighbours…What a fun time! Don’t you love it when people are enjoying themselves? Wait… not so fast… a lot of people with hearing loss say. Some candid comments shared recently perhaps can best be described as people with hearing loss thinking out loud and wishing that others could appreciate the feelings of those who face the challenges of hearing in difficult situations.

One woman said, “It’s not fun at all!  The TV is blaring, music is playing in another part of the house, kids are making noise with their toys, and everyone is talking at once. My husband and I love our family, but we wish they weren’t so noisy.

Family dinners are a nightmare” I was told by one woman.  “Everyone has side conversations and I’m left out.  I can’t follow anyone as everyone is talking over each other. I feel more alone with them than when they are not around.

Another woman quietly confessed that “I resent family dinners.  I work hard to provide the meal and invite everyone over. Then they all talk to each other and I’m sitting there wondering why I’m not just sitting with my feet up, watching a nice movie.

I was with a group of women, and was talking to my neighbour.  We were seated at a long table.  A woman to my left told me to be quiet as she wanted to hear what was being said at the far right of the table.”  The hurt in this woman’s voice was unmistakable.  “If she was interested in what was going on at the other end of the table, why didn’t she go and sit there?

My friends at my club show me a lot of consideration.  They have a rule that one person speaks at a time so that I, and everyone else, can follow the conversation.  My family doesn’t treat me with that same respect.  It’s a free-for-all.

Wow! Frustration, loneliness while among a group of people, resentment, hurt feelings, lack of enjoyment.  While there are plenty of tips and assistive listening tools to help navigate holiday get-togethers, you first have to deal with these negative feelings that are taking away your enjoyment of the holidays.

One thing to realize is that whether your hearing is good or bad, if you are at a large table, you are NOT going to hear every conversation. That’s one reason why there are so many side conversations.  People tend to talk to who is near them.

During holiday get-togethers, people are excited and often they are with family and friends they don’t often see, particularly if some live far away.  Yes, the noise levels rise with the number of people, and there are many more side conversations.

So, what can you do to make these events more enjoyable?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Have a rest BEFORE everyone arrives, or before you go out to an event.  Don’t work all day preparing a meal and cleaning the house, then expect to hear well when you are already exhausted.  You won’t.
  • Shut the TV and music off during mealtimes!  Take a good look at those Christmas movies on TV….no one is watching TV during dinner!
  • Instead of one long table, consider setting up several smaller tables.  Everyone will find it easier to concentrate and listen to a smaller group of people at a time. Ask some of the people to rotate from one table to another between courses, so that there is more interaction.
  • Pick a spot at the table and in the room where you can hear the best.  Most of us have one ear that we can hear better with.  Position yourself so that’s the ear facing your dinner companions.
  • Choose an ‘escape’ room.  When the noise level gets to be too much, simply go to a quiet room and have a few minutes break to give your ears a rest.  If the event is in your house, or at a friend’s place, that’s easily done.  Otherwise, you can always excuse yourself to go to the washroom!
  • Recognize that a holiday get-together is not the same as a small gathering.  Don’t worry that you can’t hear everyone.
  • If you are really interested in a conversation that you can’t hear, perhaps at another part of the table, get up and move there.  That’s what the woman who told another one to ‘be quiet’ so she could hear what was being said at the other end of the table should have done.

Got more suggestions? As always, you can send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on the blog, and send a tweet to @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING CONCERT: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 6, 2019.  “Christmas Dreams” will be held in the sanctuary. Refreshments and a time for socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing lossIf you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning: Human Rights Day 2019, hosted by the PEI Human Rights Commission.  Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Jack Blanchard Hall, 7 Pond St. in Charlottetown.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss.

More Holiday Gift Ideas For People With Hearing Loss

December 3, 2019.  Last month we posted our YouTube video ‘Holiday Gift Ideas’ for people with hearing loss and did a blog posting. (See Holiday Gift Ideas Video For Those With Hearing Loss)  Then we posted another YouTube video ‘I Love My Looping Chair’ and did a blog posting about that. (See I Love My Looping Chair”)

In answer to questions we’ve received, yes, some of the products featured in the ‘Holiday Gift Ideas’ video are available here on the Island, including:

  1. POCKET TALKER (without telecoil)
  2. HARD OF HEARING BUTTONS
  3. CLARITY AMPLIFIED CORDLESS PHONE
  4. WAKE ASSURE JOLT ALARM CLOCK
  5. AMPLIFIED TV LISTENING SYSTEM
  6. RUNPHONES HEADPHONE BAND

SPECIAL HEARING LOOP ACCESS DEVICES

  1. OTOjOY EARBUDS (works with an iPhone app)
  2. HEARING LOOP RECEIVER (comes with headphones)
  3. POCKET TALKER WITH TELECOIL

Ideas and suggestions for more items to make the life of someone with hearing loss easier continue to come in.  One idea I hope will be adopted by medical and dental personnel are the new clear-window surgical masks.  For those of us who use speech reading techniques to assist in communication, hearing someone with a surgical mask is a challenge! (For more information, see https://www.hearingtracker.com/news/clear-window-surgical-masks-are-a-lifesaver-for-patients-with-hearing-loss)

Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions let us know about another hearing assistive device, a Comfort Duett pocket talker, which he’s described as a ‘pocket talker on steroids’.  It comes with a telecoil so you can access a hearing loop. (A YouTube demonstration, with closed captioning, can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUZPYrU8wDc)

Got more ideas? Have you tried any of these products?  As always, you can send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on the blog, and send a tweet to @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING CONCERT: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 6, 2019.  “Christmas Dreams” will be held in the sanctuary. Refreshments and a time for socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing lossIf you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning: Human Rights Day 2019, hosted by the PEI Human Rights Commission.  Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Jack Blanchard Hall, 7 Pond St. in Charlottetown.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss.

 

 

2019 Hearing Health Day In New Brunswick

December 1, 2019.  I love outreach events!  It’s a chance to talk with people about hearing loss issues and hear their concerns and points of view.  Last month Annie Lee MacDonald and I made a trip to Moncton for the 4th annual Hearing Health New Brunswick event, hosted by Avenir Hearing.

CIMG3608 Oct 22 2019 Hearing Health NB in Moncton

2019 Hearing Health NB Day in Moncton.  Left to right: Dr Denis LeBlanc, Daria Valkenburg, Annie Lee MacDonald, Ian Hamilton, Simone Belliveau, Rheal Leger.

The gift bag with an Avenir Hearing calendar had a wonderful caption on it:

“Life is full of wonderful moments.  Hear all of them.”

This year the day was split in two, with sessions in English in the morning, which we attended, and French sessions in the afternoon. Instead of one room where the various presentations were held, as in previous years, there were four rooms, each with different presentations. We were split into 4 groups, with each smaller group rotating between the various rooms.

CIMG3611 Oct 22 2019 Hearing Health NB in Moncton

Janice Daley on the left, and Andrea Neilson on the right, both of Phonak, demonstrate the Roger Select microphone. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

The first session we attended included two demonstrations by Phonak.  One demonstration explained how their Roger Select microphone worked.  This is a transmitting microphone designed to be worn by the speaker, not the listener, and is designed for people who are socially active.  It has a speaker that transmits automatically to a hearing aid, and, in answer to a question asked, the microphone will work with hearing aids other than Phonak.  However, it will not work with a pocket talker, only with hearing aids.

A short YouTube video by Phonak gives a demonstration, but be forewarned that it is not captioned.  You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg72TTVGupU.

The second Phonak demonstration was on their e-solutions, showing how a smart phone or tablet can be used to change volume and tone on a Phonak hearing aid, and provide remote support.  While these are great options, you do need an internet connection to access the programming offered.  For more information, you can watch this YouTube video, which is captioned, in both English and French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpiLAbCSHD8.

CIMG3612 Oct 22 2019 Hearing Health NB in Moncton

Phonak’s e-solutions demonstration.

In the second session Dr. LeBlanc talked about the hearing aid rental program offered by Avenir Hearing, a program that is available here on Prince Edward Island as well as New Brunswick.  (See Exploring The Option of Renting Your Hearing Aids)

This is the 7th year of the Hearing Aid Rental Program in New Brunswick, and Dr LeBlanc mentioned he had gotten the idea for an affordable solution to hearing aid access from an HVAC firm! 75% of private pay clients (as opposed to those whose hearing aids are covered by programs such as through Veterans Affairs) opt to rent their hearing aids in New Brunswick.  The program provides:

  • a simple monthly payment solution
  • peace of mind
  • all inclusive experience, including batteries, visits, and repairs
  • eligibility for an upgrade after 36 months

The third session was a presentation by audiologist Joline Coomber on the Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss.  Among the points summarized in this discussion were that hearing loss can affect a person’s physical health, relationships, and mental well-being.

Physical health can be impacted by hearing loss through:

  • increased risk of falls, due to balance issues
  • the brain, with an example given of trying to cope with speech discrimination: cat, sat, bat, rat can sound the same.

Relationships and mental well-bring can be impacted by hearing loss when:

  • the connection to family and friends is reduced by people avoiding social gatherings due to strain of not hearing well.
  • stress is put on partners who have to constantly repeat themselves or complaining about the TV volume being too high.
CIMG3615 Oct 22 2019 Hearing Health NB in Moncton

The relationships between hearing loss, brain health, and mental wellness.

The fourth and last session was ‘Ask An Audiologist’. The transition from an authoritarian figure to a consultative one was discussed.  Originally the audiologist told a person what they needed. Now the audiologist asks about our life style which helps to determine what might be best.

Annie Lee pointed out that, in general, people who see an audiologist for the first time don’t know what they want. Information sessions, such as the Hearing Health NB Day, were one way to help increase awareness.

Education was a key component, everyone agreed, and more interaction is needed between support groups, such as our own group here on Prince Edward Island, and audiologists.

It was an interesting morning, and we are grateful to Dr LeBlanc of Avenir Hearing for extending an invitation to us to attend.

As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING CONCERT: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 6, 2019.  “Christmas Dreams” will be held in the sanctuary. Refreshments and a time for socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing lossIf you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning: Human Rights Day 2019, hosted by the PEI Human Rights Commission.  Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Jack Blanchard Hall, 7 Pond St. in Charlottetown.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss.

 

 

Outreach At The PEI Legislature

November 27, 2019.  As one of the organizations that received a community grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI this year, we were invited to attend the PEI Legislature on November 21 for a House Statement by the Hon. Ernie Hudson, Minister of Social Development and Housing and Minister Responsible for Seniors,  announcing the Grant Program and grant recipients in the Legislative Assembly.  The invitation explained that “This statement is part of our Department’s activities to increase awareness of the Grant Program, and the important and innovative work of your projects and organizations to improve lives of seniors in our communities across the province.

CIMG3671 Nov 21 2019 PEI Legislature Sr Sec Grant Recipients with Minister Hudson

Group photo of grant recipients at the J. Angus MacLean building. Minister Hudson is 4th from the left. Next to him in front is Daria Valkenburg and beside her is Annie Lee MacDonald.

As the gallery in the Legislature was full with a school visit, we were invited to gather across the road from the Legislature in the J. Angus MacLean building.  A viewing room was set up for us, with a live feed, and it worked well.  We were very appreciative that the Hon. Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition, specifically welcomed Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg in his opening remarks.  (Blog readers may recall that a petition for equal access for all Islanders to hearing aid funding through the AccessAbility program was presented in the PEI Legislature in July by Peter Bevan-Baker.  We are still working to get that passed in the Legislature.)

Minister Hudson, in his remarks, noted that 23 groups had been awarded community grants, and afterwards he dropped by for a group photo and to chat with us.  Of course, we reminded him about our petition.  He told us he had not forgotten it!

Our grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI was to produce fully captioned YouTube videos on topics of interest and relevance to those with hearing loss. (See Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI).  Thanks to that grant we were able to set up our own YouTube Channel and produce six short videos with the funding received:

The YouTube videos have been an integral part of our outreach activities, and have attracted an audience on three continents….that we are aware of:  North America, Europe, and Australia.

As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING CONCERT: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 6, 2019. Christmas Dreams” will be held in the sanctuary. Refreshments and a time for socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing loss. If you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning: Human Rights Day 2019, hosted by the PEI Human Rights Commission.  Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Jack Blanchard Hall, 7 Pond St. in Charlottetown.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss.

 

“I Love My Looping Chair”

November 25, 2019.  Every year we get asked about holiday gift ideas that would be of interest and use to people with hearing loss.  A few gift ideas were featured in a YouTube video (See Holiday Gift Ideas Video For Those With Hearing Loss) and you were invited to let us know about your favourite items.

Rheals chair loop photo by rheal

Chair loop pad. (Photo credit: Rheal Leger)

Rheal Leger went above and beyond, sending us a video clip of him demonstrating the chair loop pad, which he calls his looping chair, that he uses to watch TV.  After purchasing it a year ago, he wrote us about his experience:  “My goodness it works. I hear in both ears – genius device. We have a hideaway bed. I installed the device underneath the cushion. Then I plugged it into the TV and voila. Very easy to install. I could have also put the device under the sofa. For it to work you need to be seated where the device is.  This is a gem. It is the best listening device that I have ever owned.”  Clarity of sound.  You can’t beat that!

You can watch the video for yourself:

After seeing the video, Graham Hocking, who was featured in our YouTube video “What Is A Car Loop?” wrote: “Excellently presented and explained by Rheal and very clear. Am sure many of your viewers will be interested in purchasing one for home.” (See https://youtu.be/Ca5cnPPCW64)

Thank you Rheal, and a huge thank you to Wendy Nattress, our post-production editor!  Do you have any favourite products you wish someone would consider giving as a gift item?  Let us know!  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

November meeting:  Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices. This will be followed by the Annual General Meeting, and will be the last meeting until April 28, 2020.

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING CONCERT: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 6, 2019 “Christmas Dreams”, held in the sanctuary. Refreshments and a time for socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing lossIf you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning: Human Rights Day 2019, hosted by the PEI Human Rights Commission.  Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Jack Blanchard Hall, 7 Pond St. in Charlottetown.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss.

 

“Doctors with pocket talkers, lawyers with pocket talkers”

November 18, 2019.  I’m very happy when readers reach out to share ideas, tips, react to previous postings.  Not long ago, Dr. Jan Blustein of New York reacted to a previous posting about the pocket talker for law firms project that ran here several years ago.  In this project, designed to better understand communication challenges that can occur between the legal community and people with hearing loss, law firms received tips on improving communications and had a pocket talker available for clients with hearing loss.  It’s made a difference to the lives of many people with mild hearing loss, who were first introduced to a pocket talker, and helped bring awareness of hearing loss issues to the law community.  (See A Pocket Talker Changed My Life, Pocket Talkers Available At ALL Stewart McKelvey Offices In Maritimes, and “The Pocket Talker Is My Lifeline”)

In an email with the subject heading ‘doctors with pocket talkers, lawyers with pocket talkers’, Dr Blustein wroteI’m a physician and researcher at New York University, and along with some colleagues are doing a randomized controlled trial of pocket talkers in our local Veteran’s hospital — we’re looking to see if the Vets like them, and whether they help them to understand what’s going on.  So far, they love them, the staff love them, but we haven’t looked at the outcomes.

New York University is a research facility, and it was great to hear that medical researchers such as Dr Blustein are looking at hearing loss issues and how it can impact patient care.  Per a brief bio from New York University, her research “focuses on hearing loss and its consequences for health and quality of life for older Americans. That work spans clinical, epidemiologic, and policy dimensions. She has reported on the influence of hearing loss on patient-physician communication, the association of hearing loss with patient activation, and the relationship between hearing loss and such standard measures of quality as 30-day hospital readmission.”  (See https://wagner.nyu.edu/community/faculty/jan-blustein)

Dr Blustein sent an article written with two of her colleagues, Barbara E. Weinstein and Joshua Chodosh, plus an accompanying link to this podcast from the British Medical Journal… it’s meant to increase awareness for MDs and nurses.”  The article, ‘Tackling hearing loss to improve the care of older adults’ was straight to the point in discussing some of the many challenges faced by people with hearing loss in medical situations.  (You can read the entire article here: Blustein Weinstein Chodosh BMJ) The article starts off explaining that “The World Health Organization estimates that disabling hearing loss affects nearly a third of people aged 65 and older around the world.”  The authors point out that hearing loss in people is growing, and is “now the fourth leading cause of years lived with a disability globally.

Then comes the important point….. “But the implications tend to be overlooked.  Clinical care is often delivered in settings where people with hearing loss struggle to understand speech.  Communication is key for healthcare quality and safety, so people with hearing loss are at risk of receiving poor care.”  I can attest to that, after being a patient in a hospital for three miserable days and nights in June.  (Once I am able to write about that experience without getting upset, I may do so.)

Dr Blustein and her colleagues note that “Many healthcare settings – especially acute care settings – are difficult listening situations.  In wards and emergency departments, alarms are beeping, competing conversations are under way, and spaces often have poor sound insulation.”  Anyone who has spent any time in a hospital can attest to that!

The authors explain that in interviews with older adults they have uncovered “many problems that lead to mishearing or misinterpretation in healthcare settings, including excessive noise, multiple concurrent speakers, failure to speak face to face, unfamiliar accents, and new terminology.

Advice for communicating with patients with hearing loss is given in the article, and the suggestion is made for hearing assistive devices being provided.  All good advice…. if it’s followed…  In my situation in June, only the surgeon had the ongoing courtesy and empathy to make sure I could hear him.  He made sure to face me, and spoke clearly.

Several years ago, pocket talkers were provided to hospitals here on Prince Edward Island.  Instead of being placed on the wards, where nursing staff might be more inclined to use them as needed, and could become familiar with their use, the pocket talkers were locked up in the speech therapist’s office.  That made them unavailable on evenings and weekends, and unlikely to be asked for by busy staff on the wards.

Thank you to Dr. Jan Blustein for sharing her research article and podcast, and current research trial at the Veterans hospital.  Do you have an experience with pocket talkers that you would like to share?  Let us know!  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

November meeting:  Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices. This will be followed by the Annual General Meeting, and will be the last meeting until spring 2020.

 

Holiday Gift Ideas Video For Those With Hearing Loss

CIMG3154 Sep 14 2019 Annie Lee and Daria by banner

Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg are ready for the holidays! (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

November 16, 2019.  Every year we get asked about holiday gift ideas that would be of interest and use to people with hearing loss.  Articles have been written and we’ve been invited on the radio in past years.  This year, a few gift ideas are featured in a YouTube video……

Although the video has only been up a few days, feedback is already coming in….

Rheal Leger: “Excellent. Very well presented.

Ted at ALDS: “Fantastic job!!  I have given it the thumbs up.

Nova Scotia Audiologist Dr. Janine Verge:Wow – that is awesome! You’ve done such a good job!  You’ve got me in the Christmas spirit with your video….thanks!   🙂

It’s always great when the list of items gets added to.  Dr. Verge added to the list of possible gift items by saying that “Another product I like is the Lifetone bedside fire alarm:   https://www.chs.ca/products/lifetone-hl-bedside-fire-alarm-and-clock.  For a number of years I worked on fire safety projects coordinating hearing screening for public events, working hand in hand with the fire department, discussing fire safety for people who are hard of hearing. I also chaired a committee on fire safety when I was president of the Speech and Hearing Association of Nova Scotia. We were all recommending different kinds of products so we did a literature review and found this product. In the review, vibration was found to be the most reliable compared to flashing lights. This product combines vibration with flashing light and has a low frequency tone at the bedside -it also works as an alarm clock. It works by being set off by a traditional smoke detector.

Thank you for that product tip, Janine! Has anyone tried the Lifetone bedside fire alarm?

Thank you to Joan Dawson for volunteering her living room for the Holiday Gift Ideas video and to our amazing post-production editor, Wendy Nattress, for putting all the film clips together.

IMG_20191116_124111~2 Wendy Gribble

Wendy Nattress borrowed a holiday hat from one of her children! (Photo credit: Graeme Nattress)

Do you have any favourite products you wish someone would consider giving as a gift item?  Let us know!  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

November meeting:  Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand…. An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices. This will be followed by the Annual General Meeting, and will be the last meeting until spring 2020.

Would You Dine Out In A Noisy Restaurant Or Pub?

November 8, 2019.  Several previous postings have given tips on restaurant dining and what you can do to make the experience more pleasant and hearing accessible.  (See Enjoying A Restaurant Lunch When You Are Hard of Hearing and More Tips On Enjoying A Restaurant Meal When You Are Hard of Hearing and Tips For Enjoying Valentine’s Day)  Sometimes, though, all the good intentions and tips go out the window.  Maybe your place of employment holds its annual holiday gathering in a dimly lit and overcrowded venue with live rock music.  Your women’s group wants to go to a dinner theatre with poor acoustics and even dimmer lighting.  Your speech reading skills won’t be able to help you if you can’t see anything.  What should you do?  Stay home?  Or do you go along, knowing that you will have difficulty engaging with anyone?

Over the years, between my husband’s work environment and mine, I’ve had to make these choices on a weekly basis.  Lately I’ve been spoiled as so many of my friends have hearing loss and we avoid dimly lit, noisy environments like the plague.

A few days ago, however, while in Halifax, my husband wanted to go to The Red Stag, a pub he likes as it makes fish and chips exactly how he likes it.  The food is good in this place, and it was very conveniently located near our hotel, but the noise level is incredibly loud.  For some reason, the management insists on playing music at such a loud decibel level that conversations are very difficult. As more customers come in to eat and drink, the noise level increases as they have to practically shout to make themselves heard over the music.

In past visits, we’ve asked the serving staff if it’s possible to turn down the music and it always works…. for a few minutes.  Then someone on the staff turns it up again, usually even louder than it was originally. By the time the young staff members get old enough to notice their hearing has diminished, it will be too late. (See Do You Wish You Had Listened To Your Parents?)

CIMG3629 Nov 3 2019 With Janine Verge Courtyard Halifax

Photo: Daria Valkenburg and Janine Verge during a quiet moment before we went to a noisy pub! (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

So, the dilemma….. visit The Red Stag so my husband could have his fish and chips?  We were joined by Janine Verge, audiologist at Nova Scotia ….., who also has hearing loss.  One person with good hearing, and two people who would need to speech read in order to make any sense of the evening’s conversation.  We went and had an enjoyable time, in spite of the head bangingly loud music.

Janine wondered why restaurants and pubs felt the need to blast customers with loud music.  Was it to increase the amount people spend on food and drink?  I thought it was to keep people from lingering too long.  Eat and then leave, making room for new customers.  But the truth was that we had no idea why they do it, as it isn’t a pleasant experience.

The next day, my husband was surprised to read an article in ‘Curated‘ on how many people avoid loud restaurants and pubs in Nova Scotia… in a food and beverage magazine ‘celebrating Halifax’s dining culture’ in its September/October 2019 issue! (See Tunes vs Diners article) He admitted that the noise level had been unpleasant for him too, but he considered it a minor inconvenience for enjoying the food.

Noise levels in restaurants are an issue in many places.  An article in the UK’s Guardian by Ellie Violet Bramley noted that the “Background noise in some eateries can reach the equivalent of a motorbike or a lawnmower.  It’s enough to put you off your dinner.” The author went on to explain that “According to AoHL, 79% of people, both those with and without hearing loss, had experienced difficulty holding a conversation while eating out. Eight out of 10 reported having left a restaurant, cafe or pub early because of the noise. Ninety-one per cent said they would not return to venues where noise levels were too high, and 43% have opted for a takeaway instead of going out and decibel-dodging.”  (AoHL refers to a UK charity called Action on Hearing Loss.)

The article mentions an app called Soundprint, described as the Yelp for noise, which “allows users to search for restaurants conducive to conversation.” The app comes with a decibel meter to measure the sound in various places and so far has had more than 60,000 submissions. (See https://www.soundprint.co/)  Interestingly, Bramley notes that research shows that “loud noise compromises taste.” Hmmm…. how would the fish and chips have tasted in a quiet environment?  To read the entire article, see https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/may/09/great-food-but-please-do-something-about-the-noise-the-battle-for-quieter-restaurants)

So what do you think?  Why are restaurants and pubs so loud?  Would you go to one, just so you could be with your friends or family?  Let us know!  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

November meeting:  Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices. This will be followed by the Annual General Meeting, and will be the last meeting until spring 2020.

 

Hear PEI Accessibility Advocates Honoured For Petition Towards Equal Access Funding For Hearing Aid Purchases For ALL Islanders

November 1, 2019.  At a special luncheon meeting in October, we had the honour to present two 2019 Hear PEI Accessibility Advocate Certificates to Ruth Walsh and Evelyn Stewart, for their commitment in gathering signatures for the recent petition for equal access to ALL Islanders to hearing aid funding.

CIMG3621 Oct 29 2019 Hear PEI Accessibility Advocates Ruth & Evelyn

Daria Valkenburg (left) with Ruth Walsh (centre) and Evelyn Stewart (right). (Photo credit: Annie Lee MacDonald)

The petition was presented in July by Leader of the Official Opposition, and Green Party Leader, Peter Bevan-Baker in the PEI Legislature, but no changes have been made to government policy as yet. (See Petition Presented In PEI Legislature and Hansard Record of the Petition Presented In the PEI Legislature on July 9, 2019)

This fall, three women sent emails outlining their support for equal access to hearing aid funding.

On September 26, Brenda Porter wrote to Minister for Social Development and Housing Ernie Hudson, with a copy of her email to MLA Hannah Bell and MLA Karla Bernard.  To date, she has received no reply from anyone.

Subject: Petition for Equal Access to Funding Programs for Hearing Aid Purchases
To: <MinisterSDH@gov.pe.ca>
Cc: <hebell@assembly.pe.ca>, Karla Bernard <kmbernardMLA@assembly.pe.ca>

 Good Morning Minister Hudson;

I write this morning regarding the petition that was presented in the legislature this summer by Peter Bevan-Baker for  Equal Access to Funding Programs for Hearing Aid Purchases

We know that more than 50% of our Senior Citizens here on the island have some form of hearing loss. We also know that a very large percentage of those people do not wear hearing aids, often because they cannot afford them. Thus, they are unable to participate fully in family and community social settings and often become isolated. In fact, it is well documented that this isolation is a contributing factor in the development of various forms of dementia.

I will be watching with interest how the government deals with the issue of access to funding for hearing aids for Island seniors. It is a measure of our concern and compassion for them as well as an issue of accessibility.

Thank you.

Brenda Porter

Also on September 26, Alma Nunn wrote to Minister Hudson.  Like Brenda Porter, she has received no response to date.

To: MinisterSDH@gov.pe.ca
Subject: Hearing Aids

Good Morning.

I am a hearing aid-cochlear implant senior. I am writing this in hope that the Equal Access to Funding Programs for Hearing Aid Purchases petition that was presented at the Spring Session of the Legislature will not be forgotten. It is very important that seniors have help in the purchasing of hearing aids.
Trusting that you will support them in this cause.

Sincerely
Alma Nunn

On September 29, Joan Gallant wrote to her MLA, Brad Trivers (Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning and Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change), who had signed the petition when it was circulated, and told me he supported the initiative when I had met him at an event earlier in September.  His office contacted Joan and asked for her phone number, but no further follow-up has been made as yet.

Subject: Re: petition introduced in Legislature

Brad, Thank you again for signing our petition.  We have been asked to contact our MLAs prior to the Fall opening of the Legislature.  The petition asked for changing the AccessAbility Supports Program to include all seniors, not just adults under 65.  I am sure you are aware of the number of hard of hearing persons on PEI and that without hearing aids or the ability to hear, persons become isolated and cannot enjoy life or participate in family or community events or share their talents.  The inability to hear can also lead to other health problems.   Hearing aids are very expensive and must be replaced periodically.  I don’t understand why help for those in need would not continue after the age of 65.

Our less advantaged seniors need this assistance desperately and we as a community need to find ways to provide it.  I will be watching with interest to see how this issue is addressed by our government.  Regards, Joan Gallant

All three emails were polite and addressed the issue, but appear to have been ignored, as indicated by the disappointing lack of response.  Their concerns and voices are as important as anyone else’s, and they have given permission to include their letters on this blog.

Kudos to Ruth Walsh and Evelyn Stewart for circulating the petition this spring, and bringing awareness of the issue to people we would not otherwise have come in contact with. Thank you to Brenda Porter, Alma Nunn, and Joan Gallant for sharing their emails.

As always, you can send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on the blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

November meeting:  Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices. This will be followed by the Annual General Meeting, and will be the last meeting until spring 2020.

 

Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy Techniques

October 26, 2019.  In the series about tinnitus earlier this year, an overview on tinnitus and some of its causes was given (See Is The Water Running Or Is It Tinnitus?), plus a brief explanation of what can increase tinnitus symptoms (See What Will INCREASE Your Tinnitus Symptoms?), and some suggestions for treatment. (See What Are The Treatment Options For Tinnitus?)

As someone who has had tinnitus for over two decades, I’m always looking for ways to reduce the sound effects going through my ear!  So when we heard that Jacqueline Hocking, a retired hearing and balance specialist from England, was willing to share some tinnitus relaxation therapy techniques, we invited her to stop by and visit when she and her husband Graham were on the Island.

CIMG3052 Tinnitus relaxation therapy

Standing, left to right: Barbara Bain, Annie Lee MacDonald, Graham Hocking. Seated, left to right: Daria Valkenburg, Jacqueline Hocking. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

We had a lot of fun trying out the tinnitus relaxation therapy techniques demonstrated by Jacqueline, and appreciated her list of things that she found will aggravate tinnitus symptoms.  These include:

  • Silence – you can hear the tinnitus noises more in a quiet environment
  • Stress – increases the noise levels
  • Lack of stress – if you have nothing to worry about, then your body responds by giving you something to think about!
  • Certain foods, such as:
    • Caffeine
    • Cheese
    • Salt
    • Alcohol
    • Chocolate

I’m out for the count with these no-nos, as I do like a jolt of caffeine in the morning.  Being married to a Dutch guy means we always have cheese in the house.  And who can get through a stressful situation without chocolate? Not me!  Luckily, Jacqueline assured us that chocolate in moderation was ok, preferably dark chocolate.

In addition to the tinnitus relaxation therapy techniques she showed us, Jacqueline noted that yoga and tai chi are good for reducing stress.

People with tinnitus need support from family and friends“…. Jacqueline Hocking

One final point she made…. and it was a big one… was that people with tinnitus need support from family and friends.

If you have tinnitus and would like to try out the techniques demonstrated by Jacqueline, watch our YouTube video:

Jacqueline also was kind enough to provide a PDF of the techniques, which you can access here:  (See Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy Tips from Jacqueline)

After seeing the video, Brenda Graves commented: “Wow! So cool. I have started doing it. Will let you know in a few months if it works, LOL.

This video was part of a series we were able to make thanks to volunteer participation and a grant from the Senior Secretariat of PEI.  After seeing the video, Mary Driscoll, Senior Policy Advisor for the Secretariat wrote us to say:  “Thank you for sharing this. You did a great job with this video, and I found myself practicing the exercises as I watched.  Well done, and thanks again.  I really hope to have opportunity to share this with members of our Seniors Secretariat during a monthly meeting!

This is the fourth Hear PEI YouTube video which has been posted on our YouTube Channel.  For more information on the videos, see these previous postings:  ‘A Pocket Talker Changed My Life’, Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI, and We Are Your Bridge To Hear)

Thank you to Jacqueline Hocking for providing the tinnitus relaxation therapy techniques, and to post-production editor Wendy Nattress. Thank you also to Brenda Graves and Mary Driscoll for sharing feedback on the video.  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

October meeting:  Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 11:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. NOTE: This is a luncheon meeting!