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.

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.

 

“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.

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!

 

 

211 Is Coming To PEI

October 23, 2019.  I love our information and support meetings as they are an opportunity not only to meet and talk with others who have hearing loss, but also to learn about new initiatives and ideas from our guest speakers.  At a recent meeting our guest speaker was Patsy Beattie-Huggan, Community Engagement Consultant for the new 211 Information Service, which is provided by the United Way, that will be launched on PEI in January 2020.

CIMG3181 Sep 24 2019 211 Community Navigator

Patsy Beattie-Huggan describes the upcoming 211 Information Service at a recent meeting. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

211 is a community service program that is operated out of Nova Scotia during the week, with the call centre in Toronto handling calls on the weekend. PEI is in the process of training people to run this service. What is it?  It’s a free confidential 24/7 information and referral service for community and social services that is intended to link Islanders to the services that best meet their needs by phone, text, or using the online database.

This number is not for emergencies but if a  caller has an emergency, someone will immediately connect them to 911. At present, United Way PEI has been contracted by the PEI Government to develop and implement 211 across PEI. The government of PEI was interested in the service as part of PEI’s poverty reduction strategy.  The service is intended to address gaps in information and be multilingual in offering support in 150 languages.  211 has been in use in Nova Scotia since 2013, and feedback indicates that more and more professionals are using the service, as opposed to solely individuals seeking information.

The first stage in the project is to develop the database for PEI related information. Organizations were invited to participate in the creation of the database by contributing their information and encouraging others.  This is how we first learned about 211 this past summer. We were one of the groups asked to provide information, which we did.

Our concern for this information service is the lack of knowledge among call centre staff in being able to communicate with people with hearing loss.  Many of us find it challenging to speak with people with accents, or those who speak too quickly, or too softly.  In addition, would call centre staff know where to direct calls related to hearing loss issues?  Asking the Community Engagement Consultant to give a presentation was a way for us  to learn more about the service and for Patsy to have a better idea of the concerns and challenges faced by those with hearing loss who might call the 211 Information Service.

We thank Patsy Beattie-Huggan for coming out to our meeting.  For more information, please refer to the frequently asked questions sheet: 211 Frequently Asked Questions 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!

 

‘A Pocket Talker Changed My Life’

October 2, 2019.  Thanks to a grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI for the project “Social Media for Hearing Losses on PEI”, and the brilliant assistance of our post-production editor Wendy Nattress, we have been able to make fully captioned short videos on topics of interest and value to those with hearing loss.  Our first project, “What Is A Car Loop?” with guest Graham Hocking of England has already had an effect beyond the island. (See Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI)

The video also stimulated interest in hearing loops, as noted by Brenda Graves, who sent the following feedback: “Very informative. Too bad banks don’t have loops available for ‘in branch meetings’ or ‘transactions’.”  Perhaps as more people learn about the clarity of sound heard through a hearing loop, they will ask more businesses and services for that accommodation.

Our second video, “We Are Your Bridge To Hear” (See We Are Your Bridge To Hear) gave a brief introduction to some of the issues related to hearing loss.

IMG_20190930_083547 Wendy at work on video

Post-production editor Wendy Nattress hard at work with our raw video footage. (Photo credit: Graeme Nattress)

Our third video, “A Pocket Talker Changed My Life” features a dynamic and articulate 95 year old Ruth Brewer was interviewed about her experiences with a pocket talker.  A meeting with Ruth had been the subject of an earlier blog posting.  (See “The Pocket Talker Is My Lifeline”)

This third video has had a lot of feedback already, which we had expected given the popularity of pocket talkers on the island….

Comment from Brenda Porter: “Excellent video. Very well done. Congrats!

Comment from Nancy MacPhee:  “Great video! Well done, ladies.

Comment from Jane Scott: “I loved it.  Ruth is a gem and what a heart-warming story.

Comment from Ted at ALDS: “WOW actually a double WOW WOW – that is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing.  This is a wonderful video. Can I please share this with my rep at Williams Sound, Mike would be thrilled to see this video.  Fantastic!

Teds comment with frame

Screenshot above shows Ted’s additional comment on YouTube: “What a fantastic video and demonstration.  Thank you for sharing.

It was a leap of faith to try doing YouTube videos, but the feedback has been so encouraging we are planning another one!  Please keep the comments coming!  Thank you to Wendy Nattress and Ruth Brewer. 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! Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.  

 

We Are Your Bridge To Hear

September 25, 2019.  In the previous blog posting, I explained that a grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI for the project “Social Media for Hearing Losses on PEI” gave us some seed money to make fully captioned short videos on topics of interest and value to Islanders, and non-Islanders, with hearing loss.  Our first project, “What Is A Car Loop?” with guest Graham Hocking of England has already had an effect beyond the island. (See Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI)

CIMG3077 Aug 23 2019 Daria & Annie Lee at Pedros in Rustico

Daria (left) and Annie Lee (right) in a planning session for the YouTube video project.

People with hearing loss face many challenges, and have to learn many coping techniques to live and thrive. Hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition in Canada, and more information needs to be made available to the general public, as well as to those who are affected.  With the wonderful assistance of our post-production editor Wendy Nattress, we now also have available on YouTube a new video, ‘We Are Your Bridge To Hear”, about our organization and a brief introduction to the hearing loss world.

 

Presentation1

Screenshot above shows a comment from Ted of ALDS on YouTube: “Fantastic video ladies! Most excellent… Keep doing the wonderful work you are doing.

After seeing the video, Brenda Graves commented that: “In my own experience, sometimes a friend says something humorous or ‘profound’. I don’t hear them so I ask them to repeat it. They think I am stupid or slow because I ‘didn’t get it’, when in fact I didn’t HEAR it.  A former US president Ronald Reagan (politics aside) was thought to be an unintelligent man because he didn’t ‘understand’ things said to him.  Like me, he was hard of hearing (more so than me actually).  And if a US president can be considered slow or stupid because of a hearing loss, what does that say for us ‘regular’ people? I wish your organization much success in its efforts to educate the ‘hearing’ public about the situations of those who are hard of hearing.

Thank you to Wendy Nattress for her excellent work in making the video so presentable, and to both Brenda Graves and Ted for their comments.  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! Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.  

 

 

Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI

September 20, 2019.  As a non-profit organization run by volunteers, we depend on grants and donations to help provide outreach and educational activities that build awareness of issues related to hearing health and hearing loss.  To extend our outreach capability, we were delighted to be awarded a grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI for the project “Social Media for Hearing Losses on PEI”.

Funding for this project is giving us the opportunity to make short videos on topics of interest and value to people with hearing loss, here on Prince Edward Island, and, as we are quickly discovering, outside the province.  Each video is fully captioned.

CIMG3054 Aug 1 2019 Signing of Senior Secretariat contract for you tube videos

Daria Valkenburg and Annie Lee MacDonald with Mary Driscoll Seniors Policy Advisor Department of Social Development and Housing (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Our first project, “What Is A Car Loop?” was filmed with guest Graham Hocking of England, who demonstrated how he could easily listen to his car radio or passengers through a hearing loop.

Photo of Wendy Nattress by Graeme Nattress

Wendy Nattress. (Photo credit: Graeme Nattress)

We are very lucky in our post-production editor, Wendy Nattress, who volunteered to edit our footage and set us up with a You Tube account.  Wendy and her husband Graeme are the parents of four children.  One child, Eric, is a Deaf child with moderate/severe hearing loss.  Wendy explained that “using a big ‘D’ for the word Deaf is a cultural identifier that does not view hearing loss as a disability, but rather as a cultural gain.”  Because of this hearing loss connection, and the nature of our project, Wendy was interested in donating her time and knowledge in video production.

You can watch the video here:

After seeing the video, Graham, who is a trustee with the British organization Deaf Aspirations, explained that the organization would like to post the video link on their website. (See  Deafaspirations.org for more information.)  Ken Carter, Company Director, wrote that “I thought the video created in PEI was really interesting and forward thinking.

Graham’s reaction?  “Jacqueline and I were very impressed with your 1st video production. Very clear with the explanation and we do realize a lot of work and efforts went into it, even capturing cow mooing in the background. Well done.

We are very encouraged and delighted to be making a difference already with this new venture!

The Seniors Secretariat of PEI was formed in 1998 as an entry point for seniors to collaborate with government on matters relating to seniors, their issues and concerns; to act as a resource and information centre and to advise government on the development of public policy. Members come from the general public as well as various non-profit organizations that represent seniors.

Thank you to Wendy Nattress and Graham Hocking.  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian ChurchGuest speaker​s​: Patsy Beattie-Huggan, Community Engagement Consultant, will give an overview of the new 211 Information Service provided by the United Way. ​Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.” Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? Level 1 introduces the most visible spoken consonants, as well as thematic groups, such as colours and numbers. Students practice with phrases in class groups as well as with the instructor. General info on hearing loss, as well as coping and communication strategies, are covered. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!

MORE ON…. What Do YOU Do With Your Hearing Aids At Bedtime?

August 29, 2019.  A recent posting summarized a discussion a number of us had regarding the question “Do you take out your hearing aids overnight?”  (See What Do YOU Do With Your Hearing Aids At Bedtime?) Feedback from readers was invited and a few people added their voice to the commentary.  The responses:

By Twitter:

Jen: “Take them out! Behind the ear with large molds are not that comfortable to sleep with.

Jane: “Cats love the taste of earwax. Learned the hard way that I MUST put my hearing aids in a container or inside a drawer on my bedside table or it’s a cat toy!!!. Twice.. chewed earbuds not covered by warranty!

By Email:

Julie: “Hearing aids ALWAYS come out at night and most nights are put into the dehumidifier that came with my hearing aids. They simply cost too much to risk getting them damaged not to mention how sore you ears are (just falling asleep in an upright position during a quick nap). The safety hazard that comes from being without them when they need to be sent away for maintenance (e.g. Such as damage from laying in them) is far greater than the risk of falling asleep without them in my ears in my home or anywhere else.

Intriguing question though…..anyone I know who is worried about night time security has installed special alarms systems in their home. I know one family where all three family members are deaf and that was the solution they found worked best.

Another thought…. if you don’t remove your hearing aids at night your brain probably is not resting enough and lack of good quality sleep can make daytime hearing more difficult and stressful….just my two cents.

Thank you to those who responded.  Julie brings up an excellent point between lack of sleep and one’s ability to hear!  And thanks to Jane, we now know cats love earwax and can see your hearing aids as a toy!  It’s not too late if you want to tell us what YOU do with your hearing aids at bedtime, and if  your normal practice changes if you travel. Let us know!

In the meantime… I recently read an interesting article on how hearing aids are being partnered with artificial intelligence (AI) to tell if:

  • You are actually using your hearing aids, or if they are sitting in your purse or bedroom drawer!  How does AI know?  It can tell if you are actively listening!
  • You’ve fallen.  If so, a message can go out to request help to contacts you have pre-selected, along with your location.  Yes, these new hearing aids will know where you are!
  • You’re getting enough exercise.  If you are interested in tracking how many steps you take in a day, you no longer will need to wear a wrist device.  Your hearing aid can tell you, apparently with more accuracy too.
  • You are listening to a foreign language and need simultaneous translation.  Boy, I could sure use that when visiting my husband’s Dutch relatives!

For more information, please read the article at: https://inews.co.uk/news/worlds-first-ai-enabled-hearing-aid-goes-on-sale-in-the-uk-livio-ai/

Would you wear a hearing aid with AI?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church.  Guest speaker​s​:  ​Brenda Porter, who will lead a discussion on taking responsibility for dealing with your hearing lossAnnie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? Level 1 introduces the most visible spoken consonants, as well as thematic groups, such as colours and numbers. Students practice with phrases in class groups as well as with the instructor. General info on hearing loss, as well as coping and communication strategies, are covered. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!