Sunday, January 8, 2017

Don't Make Me Raise My Voice All Day

Dear Friends,

How are you? Are you finding ways to learn new things, keep busy, stay active, meet new people and talk with old friends?

In my October 2016 posts about Terry, an elderly relative, I mentioned some health issues. One thing we noticed for years was Terry's hearing problems. Terry misunderstood things we were saying and we had to repeat ourselves and project our voices. Frankly, at the end of a visit, we were tired and aggravated. 

Terry had enjoyed a conversation with other elderly relatives who were happy to have hearing aids. Following a family event where Terry sat quietly and didn't engage in conversation, we had a conversation that seemed to hit home. 

We talked about how much you miss in life when you can't hear people around you, have to have the TV at a very loud volume, miss out on music, can't hear sounds indicating danger such as a smoke alarm.

Although we thought that was enough to make one take action, nothing happened. We all went to lunch and Terry couldn't hear her son talk and had to have a lot more help than necessary just because of this correctable hearing issue. 

Finally Terry got a prescription and went to Costco for hearing aids. (Not all Costcos have this specialty department so check their website.) Terry had learned from a friend and the audiologist that Costco had the best prices.

Because I drove Terry to Costco for the selection and returned to get the hearing aids and learn how to work with them, I was in for a real surprise.

There are many types of hearing aids and Terry chose the smallest ones. These are expensive, but the real surprise was that the battery door has to be opened every night and batteries must be changed weekly. There is a small rubber tip at the ends of the wires that go into the ear, and those tiny tips accumulate wax and must be cleaned regularly. There is a tool that comes with the kit and there are replacement tips to insert into the device.

In Terry's case and people of that age, you're giving complex instructions to people who may have cognitive issues, arthritis or trembling hands. I can't understand what the manufacturers are thinking.

If you or someone you know is going to get hearing aids, be sure to first understand the various device options and requirements, and see if the owner can remember instructions and take care of this device.

When the batteries are changed and the tips are clean, Terry enjoys hearing conversation and being able to participate more fully in activities.

There is an excellent page about age-related hearing loss on the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders page including a quiz to see if you may have a hearing problem. You can click on the main page for additional information. I've included the link on this page on our site.

Take care,


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