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Holidays with Hearing Loss: 12 Tips for Families

The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year – or the most stressful! For people with hearing loss, the season’s gatherings often mean struggling to connect with friends and family through tables of competing conversations and clattering dishes.

Whether you have hearing loss or are hosting someone who does, there are a number of things you can do to help everyone stay connected during festivities. Read below for 12 survival tips guaranteed to keep the holidays merry and bright.

If you have hearing loss…

  • Wear your hearing aids, if you have them! It should go without saying, but this step is often forgotten. Also considering paying your hearing specialist a visit for a hearing aid tune-up before heading out for the holidays and be sure to bring extra batteries to all holiday events.
  • Don’t be shy about your needs. Let your loved ones know that you want to make sure you’re a part of conversations. Ask them to keep background noise such as music or television to a minimum and speak clearly.
  • Team up! Partner with a friend or relative ahead of time who can help keep you in the loop by filling you in on any bits of conversation you may miss.
  • Stay rested. It’s a lot of work trying to keep up with conversations when you have hearing loss. Be sure to get rest the day before and take a few minutes away from the crowd to refresh as needed to avoid hearing fatigue.
  • Go one-on-one.  Find chances to connect with individuals in a quiet room. Take the grandkids aside for some playtime or help the cook out in the kitchen.
  • Be strategic with your seating. Try to sit against a wall, in a position where you will be able to see as many people as possible. If you have a “good ear” position yourself to maximize its use. Seat those with quiet or high-pitched voices (such as children) closest to you.
  • Clear your view. Visual cues are critical for keeping up with the conversation, so make sure you can see everyone at the dinner table. Keep the room well-lit and remove any excessive centerpieces.
  • Go easy on yourself! Group settings are a challenging hearing situation. Even people with no hearing loss may have trouble following every conversation. Have your best holiday by having realistic expectations and celebrating the positives.

If you’re hosting a guest with hearing loss…

  • Get their attention. Before you start speaking, say the person’s name or touch their arm so they can “tune in” to what you’re saying.
  • Reduce excess noise. Turn off background noise like TV and music.
  • Speak naturally, but clearly. Shouting or over-emphasizing your words can actually make them harder to understand. Make lip-reading easier by refraining from chewing while talking.
  • Have the conversation, one-on-one. Holidays and family gatherings are often the moment when the difficulties of hearing loss become most apparent. If you’re ready to approach a loved one about treating their hearing loss, wait until after the big gathering has died down so you can talk one-on-one. Use our tips for helping a loved one with hearing loss to address the issues and see if they’ll take the first step toward better hearing through an easy online hearing test.

 

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Phonak Audeo V Review

The following is a guest post comes from Kelly Wycoff, a longtime hearing aid wearer and Connect Hearing Hearing Care Professional. With her personal experience and professional expertise, we thought she was the perfect person to kick off our new series of hearing aid reviews. Thanks, Kelly!

Having worn hearing aids since age 4, I’ve seen the advances in hearing technology firsthand and have been really impressed by what’s come out of the last few years. The new Audeo V line from Phonak is no exception. I’ve been wearing Phonak Audeo V90s since January, after 5 years with wearing different manufacturers’ receiver-in-the canal (RIC) hearing aids and have found them to be truly different level of hearing aid technology than what I’ve worn in the past.

About the Phonak Audeo V

Before I get started on my experience, let’s take a quick look at the technical details!

First off, the V in Audeo V stands for Venture, the newest technology platform from Phonak. The keystone of this platform is its operating system, AutoSense OS. The “brain” of the hearing aid, it automatically senses your listening environment and instantly changes to the best of 200 pre-programmed listening modes. The platform also uses new chip technology which aims to increase battery life by 30 percent or more.

All hearing aids in the Audeo V line are receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) models. They are designed for people with mild to severe hearing losses and come in four performance levels: basic (V30), economy (V50), advanced (V70), and premium (V90). The models differ both in price (there’s around a $1,000 per two hearing aids increase in cost each time you increase performance levels) and the number of programs and channels they offer.

My Experience Wearing Phonak Audeo V90 Hearing Aids

I’ve been wearing Audeo V90s for the last four months and long story short: I love this technology – I’m hearing things I was never able to before and think about my hearing aids a lot less.

To give you a little background, I have about a 32% hearing loss. It’s a sloping hearing loss, meaning it is worse in the higher frequencies. In everyday terms, this means things sound muddled, and I have the most trouble with high-pitched noises, like female voices.

Here’s what I’ve noticed:

Sound Quality

The first thing I noticed when I put them in is how there was no white noise within a quiet room.  There is very little feedback with these hearing aids. Just the crisp sounds of speech were a little overwhelming!  I’ve simply never heard these sounds before.

Overall, the sound quality is great. I’m hearing a lot more high pitched noises and consonants like t and s come through more clearly. It’s a lot easier to hear in busy, noisy places like when I’m out doing hearing screenings in the community. My own voice sounds more natural too – not “barrel-like.”

Listening to music with these in is also a whole new experience. The instruments sound clearer and more distinct.  I’ve been re-listening to songs from the 80s and 90s and am just amazed at what I’m hearing. Sometimes they sound like entirely different songs!

Automatic Programs

You know how people say they take their hearing for granted? Lately, I’ve started saying I take my hearing aids for granted.  I hardly ever touch them, except to insert them and take them out. They really do automatically adjust to the listening situation seamlessly. With other hearing aids I’ve worn, I’ve noticed the programs changing and it was really annoying.

Comfort & Insertion

I find these hearing aids very easy to insert and comfortable to wear.  There are a variety of custom earmolds to suit different patients. I opt to wear them with the domes, which I find more comfortable than acrylic hard shells, while patients with dexterity issues may want to look at the cShells.

Battery Life

In my experience, claims about battery life have stood up. I’m getting 8 or 9 days per battery vs. 5 or 6 days from my old hearing aids.

Technology Compatibility

You can stream your phone, computer or TV directly to your hearing aids through the ComPilot II. The new smartphone app from Phonak also lets you control volume and programs with new precision, including the ability to adjust volume in the right or left ear separately.

Is Audeo V Right for You?

From a professional perspective, one of the best things about this hearing aid is the wide range of people it works for. It will fit patients with mild to severe hearing loss and can be reprogrammed should your hearing loss change. It’s easy to use for people who want something simple, but has a lot of advanced features for people who are technology savvy. And should you ever run into trouble with it, many repairs can be done in the center, meaning you won’t have to have it sent away.

Choosing Between the Audeo V90, V70, V50 and V30

The biggest difference between the performance levels is the different number of channels each offers. I tell patients it’s like shopping for a TV: For better resolution, choose a television with more pixels per inch. For clearer hearing, choose a hearing aid with more channels. (This can be especially important for people with “ski slope hearing loss” because some areas that might sound too loud or not loud enough with fewer channels.)

I’ve been lucky to wear the premium V90s and that’s what I’d recommend if you want the best sound. The V90 does amazing in the car or in places that echo like the museum even when compared to the V70. There’s still a lot to offer in the lower performance levels for patients looking for something more in-budget though. I recommend trying the different models out to see which performance level works best for  you.

Try Audeo V Hearing Aids Free

You can try the Audeo V line of hearing aids absolutely free by calling us.

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Phonak Bolero V: A Patient’s Review

Patient Dick Riddle of Wisconsin recently contacted Connect Hearing to share his experience wearing the new Phonak Bolero V-50 hearing aid. After wearing hearing aids for more than 30 years, Dick says he’s never been as impressed with technology before. We’re honored to be able to share his words below.

I’ve been wearing hearing aids for more than 30 years and have never had one help as much as this one. I call it “my new best friend” – the first thing I do is put it on in the morning and the last thing I do at night is take it out.

I really have to thank the staff at your Oconomowoc hearing clinic. We looked at a few options, but the second I tried this new hearing aid, I knew it was the one for me! I’ve heard sounds I haven’t heard since I started wearing hearing aids. I think of it as “the Cadillac of hearing aids.”

Having a great hearing aid is something of a safety issue for me. I completely lost hearing in my left ear after having a mastoidectomy in 1957. Without my hearing aids, I wouldn’t drive very often – imagine not being able to hear an ambulance coming up behind you. It would be dangerous to everyone on the highway.

For anyone considering getting trying hearing aids for the first time, my advice is to remember everyone is different. Look at all your options and work with your hearing professional to make sure you’re getting the best aid for your situation You can’t expect hearing aids to replace your natural hearing – but today’s technology is as close to a perfect replacement as I’ve ever had!

Try Bolero V Hearing Aids Free!

You can try the Bolero V line of hearing aids absolutely free by contacting us.