Special opportunity for NYC senior groups

Carolyn Stern, manager of Hearing Health Days for NYC seniors

Carolyn Stern, Manager, CHC’s Center for Hearing and Aging

What is CHC’s best-kept secret? We think it’s Hearing Health Day. That’s when a group of seniors visits CHC-NY to participate in a specially scheduled day of classes about hearing loss and treatment options. The seniors get their hearing tested, demo assistive devices and take part in interactive educational sessions with CHC experts.

We introduced Hearing Health Day nearly three years ago to seniors from Penn South, a residential complex in Chelsea. It was such a hit we’ve since rolled the program out to other groups and organizations that share our commitment to the hearing health needs of seniors.

Carolyn Stern, Manager of CHC’s Center for Hearing and Aging, offers the latest news on Hearing Health Day in this brief Q&A with the Buzz.

Buzz: What is your role at CHC?

CS: An important aspect of my role is serving as a catalyst to motivate active older adults to take hearing loss seriously and make it a priority to address it. This is important because so many older adults struggle with the condition. More than a third of seniors age 65 and older have hearing loss, and this increases to two-out-of-three adults age 75 and older. If left untreated, hearing loss can have many detrimental impacts on healthy aging, including the risk of reduced independence, engagement, safety and cognitive health. Throughout the year, I develop and coordinate many outreach programs both in the community and at CHC.  These initiatives are designed to give the participants proper care, trusted guidance and up-to-date education and demonstrate it really is possible to live more fully with a hearing loss than they currently may be.

Buzz: How did Hearing Health Day come about?

Center for Hearing and Aging workshop

CS: Given that most adults develop hearing loss later in life, many are greatly unprepared for it. In annual exams, few physicians ask about hearing ability or encourage treatment, and often childhood is the last time most seniors received a hearing test, if at all. Hence, many of our interactions with older adults indicated there was a great need for an in-depth program that would inform and better prepare older adults on how to care for a hearing condition that will likely worsen as they age and further impact their well-being. No such program that we knew of existed in New York City. Given CHC’s long-standing history of providing trusted rehabilitative comprehensive care for individuals with hearing loss, we had all the in-house expertise needed to create such program. On any given day, seniors take cultural field trips and shopping excursions all over the city, so our thought was “why not tap into that model and offer a field trip to CHC for a day focused on hearing health?” Hence, the idea was born. At around the same time, a dedicated CHC volunteer and hearing advocate, Ellen Semel, expressed a strong desire to help her neighbors address hearing loss. Together, we decided to give it a try and it was a hit!

Buzz: How has the program been received?

CS: The program overall has been very well received. Participating seniors told us they appreciated the honest and caring guidance from the professional clinicians they met individually and in the group sessions. Feedback indicated they were astounded by all of the different technologies, assistive devices and communication techniques they never knew about that could reduce their hearing difficulties and isolation. Through follow up discussions with the participants, we learned the program motivated some individuals in need of hearing aids to both try out and purchase them either with a preferred local audiologist or through CHC. Armed with new resources, we were informed some attendees ordered devices to improve their ability to hear the telephone or television, greatly increasing their independence and enjoyment in life. One amazing benefit we didn’t initially anticipate: new friendships were formed through participating in the program and sharing similar experiences with hearing loss. Finally, survey data indicated nearly all of the participants who completed the program would highly recommend it to their friends and peers.

Buzz: Which organizations are you currently working with?

Ellen Semel welcoming members of PS-HOPS

CS: Through generous support from Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, we have started to expand Hearing Health Days to several organizations. The most recent ones include two residential complexes (Morningside Retirement and Health Services NORC and Lincoln House Outreach NORC) and a senior center for individuals with low vision, Visions Center on Aging at Selis Manor. We are excited to host the seniors in the upcoming weeks. We are always looking for interested organizations and seniors and their family members, so please reach out to me if you’d like to discuss further.

Buzz: What message is most important for seniors to hear? 

CS: No matter where you are in your hearing loss journey, CHC’s Center for Hearing and Aging is here to help you. If you’re not sure if you have a hearing loss, we urge you to get tested. If you’re uncertain about how best to address a confirmed hearing loss, we can provide guidance. If you have hearing aids, but don’t think they are working well, we can help. While accepting hearing loss is difficult for many, we can be an understanding partner in the challenges that you face and help you live more fully with the condition.

If you are interested in participating in a hearing health day or are part of an organization that would like to set up a trip for your members, please contact Carolyn Stern at cgstern@chchearing.org or 917-305-7812.

More about CHC’s Center for Hearing and Aging »

CHC’s Mobile Audiological Unit »

Free in-office hearing screenings »

Free group assistive devices counseling »