Tag: hearing aids

Summer Noise: 4 Ways Your Hearing Aids Can Help

Turn Up Summer Fun With Hearing Aids

People don’t often think “Fun!” when they think of hearing aids. But today’s hearing aids are designed to meet your needs no matter what’s going on. Let’s check out a few ways your hearing aids can actually enhance your fun this summer.

Enjoy Group Conversations Outdoors

Most hearing aids today have a set of built-in capabilities ideal for highlighting speech in conversations. Directional microphones are designed to focus on whatever you’re facing. This is because you usually speak to someone in front of you. Some models of directional microphones do switch positions based on speech and sound cues.

Today’s hearing aids also do a very good job filtering out background noise. You can devote your energy to your conversation, not on cutting through clatter. It’s also becoming more and more feasible to use your smartphone as a microphone. For example: You place your smartphone on the picnic table, it picks up what everyone is saying, and it streams the audio to your hearing devices. It’s almost like you’re wearing conversation-enhancing headphones!

Muzzle Fireworks

Many of today’s digital hearing aids have a function called transient-noise suppression, impulse-noise reduction, or something similar. It’s a fancy way of saying that the hearing aid will lower the volume of sudden, brief noises — like dishes being dropped. You can still enjoy fireworks, but at a safe listening level. Check your hearing aid’s instructions, or check with your provider to find out if you have this functionality.

Change Settings Automatically

Many hearing aids now use a smartphone app. From controlling the volume to nudging the settings on your hearing aids, you can do a lot by utilizing these apps. One exciting capability is geotagging, or assigning a geographical “bookmark” to your favorite spots. Simply optimize your hearing aids for a location (for example, a park, baseball diamond, or your favorite restaurant), and apply a geotag. When you return to that spot, your settings will switch automatically!

Banish Wind Noise

Hearing aid microphones are placed just outside your ear canal or behind your ear. This means they may pick up a lot of wind noise. But ReSound has developed a breakthrough with the ReSound ONE device, which allows an extra microphone to be placed inside your ear canal, where the wind can’t reach it.

Contact us today to learn more about the built-in ways your hearing aids can boost your summer fun!

Q&A: Upgrading Your Hearing Aids

Q: How often should I update my hearing devices?

A: That’s a good question we’ve addressed with many patients and their loved ones. The short answer is that a hearing device should typically be replaced about every three to six years or so.

Really, however, the answer is a bit more involved. Several factors may figure into whether it’s time to update your hearing instruments. They include:

  • Level and sophistication of the hearing technology
  • Quality of upkeep and maintenance throughout use
  • Potential changes in your hearing ability or listening lifestyle
  • Condition and performance of your existing hearing devices

Here are five potential signs you need fresh hearing technology:

Device Malfunctioning

You do all the recommended maintenance, but things still aren’t right: Replaced batteries drain quickly; sound is still muffled after you change wax guards. The occasional repair is one thing, but regular malfunctions mean it’s time to replace your devices.

Hearing Level Has Changed

Your hearing changes over time because of age, loud sounds, or other health issues. Often we can adjust your programming to meet your new needs, but sometimes your hearing changes so much that you require a different level of technology.

Often we can adjust your programming to meet your new needs, but sometimes your hearing changes so much that you require a different level of technology.

Repairs Seem Costly

With older devices, the parts are often scarce or the model is discontinued. Sometimes repairing your devices costs enough that it makes more sense to replace them with new hearing aids.

Technology Evolving

Devices have advanced significantly — with better filtering of background noise, rechargeability without the hassle of disposable batteries, tinnitus management, wireless streaming from smartphones and other audio sources, and even fall detection and built-in translation capabilities, depending on the device.

New Interests or Environments   

When your lifestyle changes, your tech might need to also. Took up a sport? You’ll probably need moisture resistance. Switched from an office job to a gig outdoors? You’ll likely experience a different  noise level now.

Hearing your best is more critical than ever in our changing world — with in-person and virtual communication both playing important roles in today’s new normal. If you think it might be time to update your hearing devices, please don’t wait. Contact us today to get your questions answered or to schedule a consultation and tech demo. We’re ‘HEAR’ to help!

Disposable vs. Rechargeable: Should I Get Rechargeable Hearing Aids?

Should I Get Rechargeable Hearing Aids? Rechargeable hearing aids are becoming more common. It’s natural to assume they’re the preferred model. But is that true? Check out our breakdown to see if rechargeable is the way to go. You might decide traditional disposable batteries fit your needs better.


Disposable vs. Rechargeable

Disposable

A disposable battery sits in a compartment in the hearing aid. You can easily access it via the battery door. When the hearing aid loses power, you switch out the battery for a fresh one.

Rechargeable

Rechargeable batteries are sealed inside the hearing aid. There’s no battery door, so you can’t access the battery. When the hearing aid loses power, you put the hearing aid on or in a charging station to recharge it.


Why Would You Prefer Disposable Hearing Aid Batteries?

More hearing aid styles

Disposable batteries are the norm for any hearing aid style. Rechargeables, however, are only available for behind-the-ear, receiver-in-canal, in-the-ear, and in-the-canal styles.

User control

If you’re already used to carrying around replacement batteries, you know the routine. It’s simple. It’s basic. No matter where you are, loss of power is no problem. Just pop in a new battery and go. When you’re used to the disposable routine, it’s tricky getting in the habit of charging your devices every night.

Less dependency

Disposable batteries are usually stored with the rest of your hearing care supplies. Everything is in one place. But a hearing aid charger usually sits on the bedside table, so it can easily be forgotten when packing for work or a vacation. Plus, the cord can become damaged, or the charger can stop working altogether. Then you’re stuck with no power!


Why Would You Prefer Rechargeable Hearing Aids?

Ease of use

Disposable batteries are tiny. The packaging can be complicated. If you have poor dexterity, whether from injury or age, that could be a deal-breaker. With rechargeables, you simply place the devices on the charger before you go to sleep. When you wake, you’ll have all-day power.

Safer for children and pets

Disposable batteries are the perfect size and shape to entice tiny hands and mouths. If swallowed, however, they’re extremely dangerous. Rechargeable hearing aids, which should be either in your ears or in the charger at any given time, are far less likely to be accidentally swallowed.

Environmentally friendly

One rechargeable hearing aid goes through one battery a year (give or take, depending on the model). One traditional hearing aid goes through 100 or so disposable batteries in the same amount of time. That’s a lot of waste.

Better for streaming

Bluetooth use and audio streaming drain your hearing aid batteries faster. If you plan to use either one often, rechargeables are a better bet. Instead of going through disposables faster, you can simply recharge your hearing aids.


Want to know more? There are lots of things to consider when looking for hearing aids. We’d be delighted to be your guide. Contact us today if you’re ready to start your better-hearing journey!

Illustration of an audiologist looking at a large ear.

Hearing Care 101 – The Importance of Your Follow-Up Appointment

Q: I have a hearing aid follow-up appointment soon. What can I expect?

A: Better hearing is a journey, not a moment. Your hearing aid follow-up appointment is an important part of that journey. The more prepared you are for the follow-up, the more you’ll get out of it. Let’s take a look.


The Preparation

As much as you can between now and your follow-up, make note of how well you’re doing with your hearing aids. In what situations are you enjoying them? Which environments are challenging? Which important voices in your life still aren’t clear? Are the battery doors causing you trouble? Do they feel tight or loose in your ear? Bring your notes — and any questions you have — to your appointment.

The Conversation

This is the crux of the follow-up. Your provider will ask you questions, and vice versa. The more feedback you can offer, the better your provider can help. Every environment that gives you a challenge tells your provider valuable information about your hearing aid settings. Same with every loved one’s voice that still isn’t quite right.

But the more emotional or psychological components are key too. Your provider will want you to describe your overall impression of the hearing aids, such as what you like and don’t like, which expectations were exceeded, and which went unmet. This, too, tells your provider more than you might realize. There’s no such thing as too much feedback at a follow-up appointment!

The Refresher

You learned a lot in your evaluation and fitting appointments. Part of your follow-up appointment will be devoted to reviewing the care and maintenance of your devices. You’ll also probably get a refresher on which programs do what, how to access them, and how to use the smartphone app (if applicable).

The Adjustments

Your provider will use everything gathered in your feedback to make adjustments to your devices. This could include adding additional programs, fine-tuning existing ones, or providing you with different domes or tubing.

If some of your feedback suggests your ears and brain are having trouble working together after years of hearing loss, you might be assigned exercises to help establish a stronger ear-brain relationship. It’s a lot like physical therapy after an injury. But in this case, it will most likely be tasks done on your computer at home.

The Next Step

Your provider will probably schedule another follow-up for a couple of weeks out.

The more adjustments made or exercises assigned, the sooner it may be. Your provider wants to catch issues as soon as possible. They want you to thrive on your better-hearing journey just as much as you do!

Illustration of young African American woman listening to music on her headphones while looking at her smartphone

Connecting to Smartphones With Your Hearing Aids

The world of wireless can be a little daunting. But experiencing the joys of streaming can be as easy as 1-2-3. If you’re not sure how to get started using your hearing aids’ Bluetooth capabilities, read on.


Connecting Hearing Aids to Your Smartphone

There are a growing number of made-for-smartphone hearing aids. This technology lets you send the audio from your phone, tablet, or laptop directly to your hearing aids. In short, you can use your hearing aids as wireless headphones. Not all hearing aids with Bluetooth are smartphone-compatible — only the ones designated Made for iPhone or Made for Android.

The good news is setting these up is simple — the technology does most of the work for you! Whether you have Apple- or Android-compatible hearing aids, the idea is the same. The only difference is the steps you take on your smartphone to make it happen.

Turn on your Bluetooth

On either your iPhone or your Android phone, go to the Settings app. Find Bluetooth — it should be near the top of the menu — select it, then turn it on.

Locate your hearing aids in the list

On your iPhone, go back to the Settings app. Scroll down, find Accessibility, and select it. Scroll about halfway down that menu, find Hearing Devices, and select it. Your hearing aids should be listed.

On your Android phone, once you turned on Bluetooth, your phone should have started “looking” for other Bluetooth-enabled devices to connect to. Within seconds, your hearing aids should be listed.

For both phones, if your phone doesn’t list your hearing aids within a few seconds, you may need to open and close the battery doors or put them on the recharger. This turns them off and then on again, which should help your phone find them.

Select your hearing aids

When your phone finally lists your hearing aids as an option, select them. They will begin connecting, which could take up to 30 seconds or a minute.

Connecting Other Devices to Your Hearing Aids

 

Smartphone streamers

If your hearing aids aren’t Made for iPhone or Made for Android, you can still wirelessly stream audio from your smartphone to your hearing aids. It just requires a separate, tiny wireless device, called a streamer, that either clips to your collar or hangs from your neck and can be hidden underneath your clothing.

Other streamers

Many situations — even with smartphone-compatible hearing devices — require a streamer if you want audio sent to your hearing aids. From TV streamers to mini-microphones (for conversations in noisy environments), you can find a streamer to assist you in hearing your world even more clearly.

Each hearing aid manufacturer makes their own array of streamers. Connecting is often even easier than the above process and can be found in the streamer’s instructions.


If you’re curious about the latest streamers or want to learn more about smartphone-compatible hearing aids, contact us today!Connecting to Smartphones With Your Hearing Aids

Illustration of an audiologist speaking to two women who have question marks above their heads.

Why Do I Need a Hearing Aid Fitting Appointment?

Q: What can I expect at my hearing aid fitting?

 

A: Hearing aids are wonderful, sophisticated devices. But better hearing is a journey, not a transaction. That’s why we bring you into the office and spend some time with you answering questions and demonstrating features. Let me walk you through what the typical fitting looks like.


Making Sure Your New Hearing Aids Fit
Before anything else can happen, you have to pull your devices out of the box and slide them in your ears to ensure they fit you. If not, your audiologist will have to exchange them for ones that do, which most likely means returning for another fitting appointment.
 
Programming Your Devices and Verifying They Meet Your Specific Needs
If everything fits, your audiologist will program your hearing aids with fitting software. They’ll base the programming on your audiogram, which was developed at your hearing evaluation. Your audiogram indicates:

  • The sound frequencies that need to be amplified, and by how much
  • The sound frequencies that you can hear just fine
  • The sound frequencies that can remain loud but might need to be adjusted to minimize your discomfort

Once programmed, if your audiologist is using best practices, they’ll follow up with real-ear measurement. With this process, a slim tube microphone rests in your ear along with your hearing aid. Different sounds are played, and your audiologist can confirm for each whether the volume reaching your eardrum is the correct amount based on your audiogram.

This is where you first experience the benefits of your hearing aids. Especially for those who have a loved one with them at the appointment, this can be an emotional and profound moment.
 
Learning About Features and Maintenance
Hearing aid developers make sure today’s hearing aids are as user-friendly as possible. But you still need to learn the basics, so by the time you leave your fitting appointment, you’ll know:

  • How to change and dispose of batteries. If your hearing aids are rechargeable, you’ll learn the features of the charging station.
  • How to change programs, adjust volume, or make any other adjustments that aren’t automated.
  • How to clean and maintain your hearing aids.
  • How basic features work, such as connecting via T-coil to a looping system.
  • How advanced features work, such as streaming audio from your smartphone directly to your hearing aids.
  • How to use remote controls and other accessories.

You’ll also get an instruction guides, cleaning tools, a storage case, and a supply of batteries (or a charging station).
 
Understanding What’s Ahead
Today’s hearing aids are technologically sophisticated and easy to use, but they’re not a grab-n-go solution. Your brain is, in a sense, out of practice. All of a sudden, it has to make sense of sounds it hasn’t heard in a long time.

That’s why there is an adjustment period. Your audiologist will discuss this in more detail, so you know what to expect and don’t get discouraged. They’ll also give you a wearing schedule for the first few weeks, so you don’t overdo it. Easing you into this new world of sound is the best way to ensure success.
 
Scheduling the First Follow-Up Appointment
A skilled audiologist and advanced fitting software do a lot of the heavy lifting, but it all happens in the controlled environment of a clinic. As you live your life, you’ll enjoy the benefits of better hearing. But you’ll also notice ways your devices could help more, especially in noisy environments.

That’s why you’ll schedule a follow-up appointment. Your audiologist expects you to have feedback on how to improve your listening experience. You’ll also no doubt have questions you’ve thought of since the fitting appointment.
 
Your Hearing Care Partner
Don’t be shy. Speak up with any worries or questions. Your audiologist’s main concern is you hearing better. They’ve no doubt allotted 90 minutes to two hours for this appointment — they want you to leave the fitting appointment feeling confident and excited about the possibilities. Think of them as a knowledgeable partner eager to help you on your better-hearing journey!

5 Sounds to Stream Through Your Hearing Aids for the Holidays

5 Sounds to Stream Through Your Hearing Aids for the Holidays

Have you been putting off exploring your hearing technology’s streaming capabilities? We’ve got just the fix!

Delve into the world of streaming this holiday season with our five picks. Before long, you’ll be wondering why you waited to channel old favorites and new sounds directly to your hearing devices. Let’s get started!
 

HOLIDAY PODCASTS

More than an estimated 1 million podcasts exist, but that doesn’t mean everybody’s listening. Here’s why you should: With tons of topics from poinsettias to politics at the ready, you’ll likely have no trouble settling on something interesting.

Try this: Search “holiday podcasts” on your favorite web browser for stories, songs, sermons, inspiration, motivation, conversations, and more among the many offerings you can download to your smartphone or computer for direct streaming to your hearing aids.
 

MUST-SEE CLASSICS

Got a favorite classic movie or television show that makes the holiday season extra special? Make it even more enjoyable by sending the audio directly to your hearing devices. The best part? You can enjoy it at the volume that sounds just right for you — without the volume changing for everyone else.

Try this: Check out a beloved holiday-themed DVD from your local library or use your preferred video-on-demand service, and experience the audio in a whole new way through Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids.
 

VIRTUAL REUNIONS

Who’s on your mind that you haven’t seen or heard from in a long time? The holiday season can be perfect for getting the crew back together online to enjoy laughs and talk new-year plans. Streaming the conversation right to your hearing devices helps ensure you don’t miss a single word.

Try this: Choose your favorite video-chat platform — or try a new one — and invite five friends from near and far to join you on a fun virtual call.
 

DIY FUN

That skill you’ve been wanting to add to your repertoire? Don’t wait for the new year. Learn it now! And with billions of videos on popular sharing platform YouTube, someone’s bound to have a helpful tutorial or two on the topic you seek.

Try this: Find and explore DIY videos on your favorite topics with a quick and easy keyword search in YouTube’s vast collection. Streaming the audio straight to your hearing aids and, if desired, turning on the captioning function can help make listening and learning a cinch.
 

MERRY MUSIC

When was the last time you put a holiday playlist together? Never? Gathering up your favorite tracks may take a little time, but it can pay off big with a go-to tailored list of tunes for streaming that keep you happily humming throughout the season.

Try this: Sites such as AllMusic can be a big help in discovering terrific holiday songs you didn’t even know existed. Keep that in mind while compiling tunes for your festive playlist.


Streaming 101


What is streaming?
Streaming essentially involves sending audio from a sound source — for example, your smartphone, TV, stereo, or computer, depending on compatibility — to your hearing device. With streaming, your hearing instruments essentially act as wireless headphones, providing an even more personalized experience.

How does streaming work with hearing aids?
Hearing aids facilitate streaming either directly or through a clip. In direct streaming, audio is transmitted right to your devices — without an accessory. The clip method uses a wireless accessory — a streamer — that clips to your clothing or may hang around your neck. Audio is transmitted to the clip, which then sends it to your hearing aids.

What makes this possible?
Through Bluetooth technology typically embedded in both the hearing aid and the smartphone, television, or other audio source, the electronics can be wirelessly paired, allowing streaming to happen. Our caring team can explain the specific steps and help ensure you have what you need.


Want to make sure your hearing devices are ready for holiday streaming? Contact us today to make an appointment or to get your questions answered. We’re here to help!

Illustration of hand holding a smart phone with several different icons representing types of virtual communication surrounding it

5 Tips to Hear Better in Virtual Meetings + Gatherings

5 Tips to Hear Better in Virtual Meetings + Gatherings

Working remotely with hearing loss can be a big challenge.

Whether you’re conducting business online or just want to virtually connect with family and friends, these listening strategies and tactics can go a long way toward helping you stay engaged.

  1. Explore the conferencing platform well before the online meeting or gathering — including reading a little about it or checking out a few quick instructional videos from other users — to build familiarity and confidence.
  2. Encourage everyone to use the video function — not just the audio option — to aid in lipreading and interpreting facial expressions. Also, try to keep your eye as much as possible on the person speaking rather than on your own camera image.
  3. Turn on the closed-captioning option, which can help take a big load off. In addition, consider using the real-time chat function, when available, to get clarification if you missed a point or have a follow-up question. Some video conferences may also be recorded for helpful playback later, so be sure to ask the host, who may need to initiate the recording option.
  4. Wear connected headphones if possible, which can make listening a whole lot easier. Quality headphones not only help block distracting background noise in your environment but can also improve reception of the audio’s full tonal range to make speech and other sounds more understandable.
  5. Stream directly to your hearing technology, if you wear hearing aids. Today’s sophisticated hearing instruments help make it a cinch to receive audio from various sources — phone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, stereo, and more, depending on compatibility — directly to your ears, so be sure to take advantage of that functionality.

Want more virtual-communication tips? We can help with accessibility strategies and solutions that empower you in managing hearing loss and remote work. So don’t wait. Contact us today!

Illustration of couple traveling with hearing aids

Hear Your Best On The Go

6 Tips to Keep Your Hearing Aids at Their Best

Whether youíre on the town or out of town, you depend on your hearing technology to keep you consistently connected. Donít miss a moment when youíre on the go with these tips for maximizing your hearing.

 
Protect Your Tech
Hearing aids are tiny computers ó keep them safe! If youíre in warmer climes, invest in hearing aid accessories such as a splashguard, a wind protector, or a sport clip. For those of you in less toasty towns, a hat, a scarf, or earmuffs can provide protection.

Use Geotags
Many hearing aids now come with a smartphone app that can assign a geographical “bookmark” ó or geotag ó to your favorite locations. Simply optimize your hearing aid settings for a location (for example, a coffee shop) and apply a geotag. Every time you return to that spot, the app automatically switches to your preferred settings.

Power Up
Always have extra packages of batteries on hand ó donít wait for the low-battery warning beeps from your devices. If you have rechargeables and you know youíll be gone overnight, donít forget the charger!

Keep a Kit on Hand
Whether hitting the road or just heading to the park, you never know when moisture or debris might strike. A pocket-size case filled with essential hearing aid cleaning and maintenance basics is a must. A cleaning cloth, a soft-bristle brush (like the one included with your devices), wax guards, and domes (if applicable) take up almost no space but will be lifesavers in a pinch.

Loop It
More and more public spaces are installing hearing loops. Enable the T-coil setting on your hearing aids and the loop allows you to wirelessly receive audio directly in the devices. Look for the loop logo at participating venues.

Check AGXchange
Headed out of town? Check with us to find an AGXchange practice near your destination. With an AGXchange practice, you can depend on the same level of quality hearing care youíve come to expect from us.
 

Contact us to find out more about DIY tips for caring for your hearing devices!

Hearing Aids and Your Brain

You won’t “mind” this news about better hearing and improved cognition!

Does hearing aid use help your brain? A growing amount of research associates hearing technology with improved cognition and slowed or decreased risk of cognitive decline. Get the latest on research that supports your better-hearing health ó and your mind.

 

Have you heard? Yet another study links hearing aid use to reduced risk of cognitive decline!

We’ve long talked about connections between hearing and the brain. They work together to help keep you empowered and engaged, so it’s no wonder that hearing difficulties could go hand in hand with cognitive problems.

The good news? An increasing volume of research links hearing loss treatment to improved brain function or reduced risk of cognitive impairment.

A University of Melbourne study published in early 2020, for example, suggests that “more frequent use of hearing aids was associated with greater improvements in cognitive function,” per a university news release.

Investigators, whose study assessed nearly 100 hearing-impaired adults aged 62 to 82 before and after an 18-month period of hearing aid use, also discovered substantial improvement in “speech perception, self-reported listening disability and quality of life.”

“Most notably,” according to the release, “97.3 percent of participants in this study showed either clinically significant improvement or stability in executive function ó their mental ability to plan, organise information and initiate tasks.”

The conclusions dovetail with other various studies over the years whose data suggest, respectively, that with hearing aid use:

As you can see, hearing health is connected to more than just the power of communication, and hearing aids can play a big role in your overall wellness. If you have questions about hearing and brain health or if it’s been a while since your last hearing exam, don’t wait. Contact our experienced team today. Together, let’s keep you hearing ó and living ó your best.