Sound Advice by Ruth D. Bernstein

Ruth Bernstein advocate for people with hearing lossAs a longtime hearing advocate, I often hear from people like my friend who recently told me she was diagnosed with a moderate hearing loss and hearing aids were recommended. She was not interested in getting aids yet. Here’s how I responded:

Although you are reluctant to give hearing aids a try, you may want to reconsider your decision. When you have a hearing loss, your brain burns a lot more energy than normal to understand what is being said, which is physically fatiguing. You also want to keep the part of your brain that processes hearing in good shape. When it doesn’t receive the necessary signals, it tends to stop working. Recent research shows hearing loss can affect your health, balance, cognition and may be a factor in dementia.

Although having a hearing loss can be socially difficult, frustrating, irritating and physically exhausting, it is not a fatal disease! If you get hearing aids now, you help yourself continue to live a healthy and engaged life by allowing your ears and brain to get all the help they need before you develop serious hearing problems. I’m pleased to help in any way I can.

Here are two informative articles from the National Institute on Aging that underscore the importance of treating hearing loss.

Hearing Loss: A Common Problem for Older Adults »

What’s the Connection Between Hearing and Cognitive Health »

Audiologist Ellen Lafargue weighs in

My audiologist, Dr. Ellen Lafargue, frequently deals with clients who procrastinate rather than pursue treatment for their hearing loss. She offers these additional insights:

I strongly recommend getting hearing aids sooner rather than delaying the decision because the problem, over time, will likely get worse. And, as we get older, getting used to new things gets harder, not easier. Research has shown that a younger brain learns more easily than an older brain. That, and the issues Ruth cited, can make a delayed transition to hearing with aids much more challenging.

It’s also important to note that when you buy a hearing aid in NY State you have 45 days to decide if you wish to return the aids and get your money back, minus a 5% cancellation fee. When people learn this, they become much more inclined to give hearing aids a try. I’m pleased to share the news that CHC-NY is waiving the 5% cancellation fee all this month in celebration of Better Hearing and Speech Month. Request an appointment.

Ellen Lafargue, AuD, CCC-A

Hearing aids make my busy life possible

I hope my friend and anyone who has been procrastinating about getting hearing aids, heeds our advice. You, your family and friends will appreciate your positive actions. I’m in a position to offer guidance on this topic because I’ve been wearing hearing aids for more than forty-five years. During those years, I’ve slowly gone from a moderate to a profound loss. At the same time, the technology in aids has improved 1000%, to the point where they now include Bluetooth and remote controls.

My aids have always been an integral part of my life because  they make my busy life possible by allowing me to communicate in a wide variety of situations. I’m the mother of four and grandmother of four, with all the wonderful activities those roles entail. I had paid careers and continue to have multiple volunteer and creative careers: speech therapist, administrative assistant, convention and meeting planner, Central Park gardener, Metropolitan Museum hearing accessibility volunteer, Center for Hearing and Communication advocate for people with hearing loss, Board member of the Hearing Loss Association of America NYC Chapter, member of the Museum Access Consortium Steering Committee (MAC), painter, photographer and writer.

Overcoming challenges of each new listening situation

I approach each new listening situation asking myself how to understand what will be said and which combination of hearing aids plus assistive technologies will be most useful: captioning, looping, using apps like Ava or the dictation app on my iPhone. I then reach out to the venue, arrange for access and follow up to make sure it will be available. You can read more about this here: http://chchearing.org/blog/hearing-technology-then-and-now/

At 85, I cannot imagine what my life would be like without my hearing aids. They are the tools I rely on to stay engaged with family, friends and the world around me. I feel fortunate to have lived long enough to benefit from the advances in hearing aid technology and look forward to taking advantage of future improvements. I hope you will join me in this beneficial and exciting adventure.

Warm regards,

Ruth Bernstein
Consumer Advocate