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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.
TV using streaming to hearing aids

Hear Better at Home – TV using streaming to hearing aids

You might be surprised how many small ways you can complement the better hearing you already get from your hearing aids. Read on to learn about technology that can improve communication ó and connection ó even more.

If you’re adjusting to hearing technology, you’ve no doubt noticed how many situations around the home could be improved through better hearing, especially if you’re retired, work from home, or have relatives who live far away.

Today’s hearing aids are tiny computers, which means they can take advantage of the latest in computer technology ó and you can take charge of your hearing.
 

Captions

For those with hearing loss ó with or without hearing devices ó closed captions improve speech understanding. But if you’re on a video call with loved ones in a different state, or you work from home, is that even possible? Turns out, it is.

Video calling platforms
For personal use, such as video calls with loved ones, Skype and Google Hangouts offer closed captions. For businesses, Microsoft Teams now offers captions only in meetings, and Zoom doesn’t have a built-in capability, but captions can be generated by a third-party service.

Apps
You can also download mobile apps to create closed-captioning for phone and video calls. Google Live Transcribe (Android), Rogervoice (iOS and Android), and Otter (iOS and Android) transcribe your calls in real time. Google Duo, which works on both iOS and Android, is a video-calling app that will soon offer captioning.
 

Streaming

Streamers
Did you know there are devices that allow your TV, stereo, or other sound source to “talk” to your hearing aids wirelessly? In other words, with these devices, your hearing aids become wireless headphones. The process is called streaming, and the devices are called streamers.

There are streamers to handle any kind of input. Some use a microphone to capture soundwaves in the air, others are plugged directly into the sound source, still others can receive a traditional Bluetooth wireless signal. But all of them use an FM signal or electromagnetic field to “talk” to your hearing aids.

What does this look like in action?

  • Are you watching TV with one or more people? With a TV or media streamer, you can control the volume in your hearing aids, while the others in the room listen at a different volume.
  • It’s the big game, but you need to head to the kitchen. No problem ó with a TV or media streamer, the sound travels with you in your hearing aids, allowing you to hear the sportscasters’ play-by-play.
  • Need to take the trash out but your favorite song just came on the radio? With a media streamer, you can still groove to the music in your hearing aids as you quickly pop into the backyard.
  • Hard to hear the other end of the table during weeknight family dinner? Use your tabletop or clip-on microphone to stream the conversation right to your hearing devices.

There are also mini-remote controls available that allow you to discreetly adjust your hearing aid settings or volume from your pocket or purse!

Made-for-smartphone
Hearing aid batteries are not strong or long-lasting enough to support traditional Bluetooth technology. That’s why most streamers use an FM signal or electromagnetic field to talk to your hearing devices.

But some newer hearing aid models are equipped with a newer, low-energy version of Bluetooth. These hearing aids can stream the sound directly from your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile devices ó no streamer needed! You can even use your smartphone to discreetly adjust your volume or settings.

This same streaming technology lets you use your phone as a microphone. Simply place your phone where you want to pick up conversations, music, or other audio and activate Live Listen (built into iOS) or Headset Remote (an Android app). Whatever sounds your phone picks up will be streamed to your hearing devices.
 

There is a vast array of options for making your hearing even better around the house ó contact us today to learn more!

Water and hearing aids don't mix, but there are things you can do to help prevent or remove moisture from your hearing aids.

Q&A: Water and Hearing Aids | 6 Tips to Keep Hearing Devices Dry

Q&A: Water and Hearing Aids

Q: Are my hearing aids really kaput if they get wet?

A: If you only knew how often we get this important question. As powerful as they are, hearing aids — like all electronics — have a couple of Achilles’ heels, and one of them is water. The moisture could come from a swimming pool, a shower, or even the sweat from working out or soaking up a hot summer day, but it all comes down to this: Wetness can permanently put your hearing aids out of commission.


Of course there’s always the potential miracle — who hasn’t heard the occasional story of a friend or loved one accidentally putting their hearing technology, personal music player, smartphone, or other treasured device through the washing machine only to have it continue working without seemingly skipping a beat? That’s some rare luck, however, so it’s important to stick to prevention.

Here are six ways to help keep wetness away from your hearing aids:

  1. Avoid Moisture Altogether
    Remember to take your devices out of your ears before showering, hitting the pool, or getting into the hot tub, and be sure to store them in their own secure case rather than loose in a pocket or purse.
  2.  

  3. Wipe Them Down
    Wiping your devices daily with a clean, dry cloth helps clear moisture and debris and helps reduce the risk of damage.
  4.  

  5. Stay Vigilant
    Water-resistant hearing aids aren’t waterproof, so keep these types of devices out of the shower, pool, and hot tub, too. Otherwise, they can get damaged when immersed.
  6.  

  7. Use Hearing Aid Covers
    These handy helpers can aid in protecting your devices from water splashes and keep out dust and dirt, too.
  8.  

  9. Consider a Hearing Aid Dryer or Dehumidifier
    This small appliance not only dries and sanitizes your devices as you sleep but can also double as their regular storage container.
  10.  

  11. Keep a Hat On Hand
    You never know when an unexpected rain shower might crash your outdoor fun. Having a spare hat can help keep the rain off you as well as your hearing aids.
  12.  


Some simple steps at home can help keep your hearing aids dry and working well. Bringing them in periodically for a professional clean and check goes a long way, too. If it’s been a while since they’ve had a good once-over or they don’t seem to be operating their best, don’t delay. Schedule an appointment with our caring team today!

6 Key Hearing Aid Styles to Know

In-the-ear. Behind-the-ear. Receiver-in-the-canal. Completely-in-the-canal. Today’s hearing aids not only offer wireless connectivity, directionality, near invisibility, and clearer sound than ever before, but they also come in a wider variety of styles to match your communication needs.

Good thing, too, because hearing loss affects an estimated 466 million people and counting, making customizable hearing technology an important part of helping the global community connect. What are the main hearing aid styles? Read on for a quick primer to help you stay in the know.


In-the-Canal

This type of hearing aid fits entirely in the ear canal, making it a discreet option that also won’t get in the way of your glasses, hats, or other headwear. It’s available for many types of hearing loss and can be custom-molded to your unique ear shape, ensuring it stays put even when you’re on the move.
 

In-the-Ear

Rather than sitting deep within the ear canal, this hearing aid type sits in your ear canal and part of your external ear. It’s the easiest style to remove, and it can help a diverse range of people thanks to the combination of size, customizable switches, and color options.
 

Receiver-in-the-Canal

With a lightweight feel and flexible fit, this style — also called “receiver-in-the-ear” or “receiver-in-the-aid” — is the most popular. The microphone, amplifier, processor, and battery all sit in a small case that rests behind the ear, delivering sound to the inner ear via a tiny speaker that stays in the ear canal.
 

Behind-the-Ear

This style houses the speaker and microphone inside a shell that sits snugly on the ear while sound travels into the ear canal via acoustic tubing. The device may also have another part to maintain its ear position. It’s one of the most easily adjusted styles, with simple switches to quickly control volume and program settings that better match changes to your surroundings.
 

Invisible-in-the-Canal

This type of hearing aid offers virtual invisibility and clarity in a tiny device that sits even deeper in the ear canal. Its deep placement makes it less susceptible to wind noise, and its self-contained functioning eliminates the need for manual adjustment. It accommodates many degrees of hearing loss.
 

Completely-in-the-Canal

These devices don’t sit quite as deeply in the ear canal as their invisible-in-the-canal counterparts, but they’re among the least visible types, and they provide clear sound. In addition, they come equipped with external switches for more control over your hearing, and they’re Bluetooth compatible.


Which hearing aid style is right for you? It depends on factors such as your hearing range and listening lifestyle. Our hearing care experts can assess your hearing level and work with you to determine the best solution for your individual communication needs. So don’t wait. If you’re having hearing difficulty, contact our team for a consultation today. We’re here to help!