Healthy Aging

6 Solutions for Hearing Loss

Alice Lesch Kelly
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If you’re experiencing loss of hearing as a result of the natural aging process, take advantage of these hearing loss services and tools.

  • Hearing Loss

    Have you noticed that you can’t hear quite as well as you used to? Do you sometimes find yourself missing out on conversations or asking people to repeat themselves? If so, you may be experiencing age-related hearing loss, which affects about a third of seniors between the ages of 65 and 74, and up to half of seniors 85 and older, according to the NIH. Age-related hearing loss (also known as presbycusis) can interfere with your ability to communicate with friends and family. But you don’t have to suffer. Here are some tools to help you adapt.

    Note: Images in this slideshow may not reflect the specific brand mentioned.

  • Hearing Aid

    Hearing Aids

    Perhaps the most common solution for hearing loss is the hearing aid. “People feel old with a hearing aid,” says Dr. Tammy Eileen Flodman, a New York City-based audiologist with Audicus, an online hearing aid retailer. “Our society views hearing aids as big and clunky and something that your grandfather wears.” Thanks to advances in technology, however, today’s hearing aids are smaller and more convenient than ever. Some can even connect directly with smartphones and other electronic communication devices. “Hearing aids can have a tremendous impact on quality of life,” Flodmand says. “There’s no need to delay when they can help so much.” Learn more about hearing aids from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website

  • Cochlear

    Cochlear Implants

    A cochlear implant can be an option if you’ve lost all or most of your hearing. These tiny devices are surgically implanted in the inner ear. Unlike hearing aids, which amplify sound, a cochlear implant picks up sounds, converts them to electric impulses and sends them to the brain via the auditory nerve. Since getting an implant, Lynne Kinsey, 65, of San Jose, says she can hear things she hasn’t heard in 22 years. But getting a cochlear implant is a complex process. “The surgery was the easiest part,” Kinsey says. “The evaluation process was quite lengthy and required many tests and visits to a variety of specialists.” Learn more about the implants from the NIDCD.

  • Amplicom

    Assistive Listening Devices

    Assistive listening devices are any kind of electronic devices that amplify sound for people with hearing loss. ALDs can be used alone or with a hearing aid or cochlear implant. There are several kinds of ALDs available, and they can be used for conversations, phone calls or presentations in theaters, churches, classrooms and other public places. “One of my favorite ALDs is the amplified telephone,” Flodmand says. “Even with hearing aids many people still will have some trouble talking on the phone, so this is a great option.” Amplicom makes several kinds of amplified phones, including cordless models, which are available from Amazon.com

  • Lip Reading

    Lip Reading

    Conversation can be easier if you learn lip reading, a process by which you “listen” with your eyes as well as your ears. “Listening to a person facing me by using my ability to speech read has been a great asset for me,” says Susan Kolker, 90, of Encino. “I have been in a lip reading class for a year and a half and find it very helpful.” Kolker’s class, which meets weekly, is sponsored by the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America. To find a chapter near you, visit www.hearingloss.org

  • Gentex Smoke Detector

    Alerting Devices

    People with hearing loss may find it difficult to hear doorbells, alarm clocks, telephones, smoke alarms, security alarms, paging systems and other electronics. Alerting devices can help. They use extra-loud noise, lights or vibration to send signals to people with hearing loss. For example, the Gentex Smoke Detector uses a high-intensity strobe light and a 90-decibel audio signal to alert people to the presence of smoke. Smoke detectors and other alerting devices are available through Amazon.com and Home Depot

  • TV Headset

    Television Listening Devices

    TV listening devices make it easier for you to hear your television without having to turn the volume up high. They are particularly helpful when watching TV with friends or family who don’t have hearing loss. A TV listening device consists of a transmitter connected to your TV that sends sounds directly to a headset or TV headphones. One of the most popular brands of TV listening devices is the TV Ears wireless headset system, available at www.tvears.com.

Publication Date: August 1, 2014
 
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