Saturday, 12 September 2015

Hearing aids, sounds and computer files

I’ve been a member of a writing group for quite a while now and regularly look at the FB page. I’ve thought quietly to myself – ‘Hmm, not much information about writing here’. And just last week I discovered from a friend that the FB page is not the blog page…

She gave me the steps to delve into the right cyberspace folder to open the pages I needed.

I’m from the generation that doesn’t automatically compartmentalize cyberspace into emails, websites and folders. I have to learn each step and assimilate into my current limited knowledge.

Just as I didn’t know how to search for meaningful things on the computer, wearing hearing aids can be like this. Things sound different, and I found myself searching through the ‘sound files’ of my mind, looking for a familiar sound memory to attach it to. Sometimes I’d think, ‘Ah, yes, that must be the fridge motor.’ But other times (and still occasionally now, many years later), I have to ask someone, ‘What is that noise?’

Any new experience can feel strange and awkward, and hearing aids are no different. Specific information about specific listening situations needs to be given to help process the changes in the person’s hearing. Questions need to be specific so that the wearer is given a framework for thinking about and understanding the new listening experience. Rather than a general ‘How are they going?’ questions like ‘Do they sound tinny? Do they echo? Are there sounds that hurt your ears?’ are much more helpful. Also asking about specific activities can help you to think it through. ‘What are they like in meetings? When watching television? When talking in a small group?’

Talking to others who have gone before you and are old hands at getting the best out of their hearing aids can really help. Let’s start talking about hearing loss and supporting each other in this. I look forward to hearing about your experiences.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Meetings and hearing

I’ve just sat through another meeting – about fifteen of us in the room. Could I hear? Only the people immediately beside me.
Is this frustrating?
Do I ever leave a meeting nearly in tears?
Have I asked people to speak up?
Often, and they do for the first sentence. Then it’s back to normal volume.
It amazes me just how good ‘normal’ hearing must be. Even the soft speakers could be heard by everyone – except me. I’m sure I come across as aloof, disinterested, rude, even, when in fact I simply haven’t heard you speak.
It’s incredibly frustrating, not being able to hear in a meeting, and it impacts on my ability to participate and contribute.
Hearing aids do help – somewhat. So does positioning yourself at the table well. I always try to sit in the middle so the sound goes across me. If you sit at one end, you hear the people around you, but the voices from the other end have often faded to quiet by the time they reach you. If I know one person is holding the floor, I will sit near to them, so I hear most of their presentation. We now have a loop in the conference room and if the speaker uses a microphone, I use t-switch to tune in.
I’ve written more about supporting those with a hearing loss in my booklet – Rather a Small Chicken. There are tips specifically for meetings – they may give you some stepping stones to work from.

I’d love to hear what you do, when you have a hearing impairment to maximize your ability to hear.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Hearing Aids and Consumer Review

I have sent for and received the 2015 Consumer’s Guide to Hearing Aids put out by Connect Hearing. It states it is a third party source of hearing aid comparisons, but there is, I think, a company behind this magazine that does have a vested interest in supplying hearing aids.

However, I enjoyed the honesty of the descriptors around the success of hearing aids in certain situations. It describes how hearing aids ‘may help you to hear better in some noisy situations.’  It also states that ‘hearing aids will not restore your hearing to normal.

Both of which we who wear them already know, but it is nice to have it confirmed – especially if your hearing aid provider seems to imply that your hearing aids should help in all circumstances.

It also states that with a more severe hearing loss, the ability of the hearing aid to correct hearing will be more limited than with a mild loss, especially in noisy environments. Again, this is no news to us who have struggled in noisy environments for years.

Here is the link if you are interested in acquiring a copy:

Getting used to new hearing aids is not simple is it? It takes weeks, months even. And many visits back to the provider to adjust them until they are right. They can sound harsh, tinny, echo-y, or sharp and painful to the ears – all of which can be adjusted to some extent. I have gone to talk about these issues and many more in my booklet – which will be out in September!

How long did it take you to get used to your hearing aids? And are they good in a noisy environment? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Hello to all hearing aid users.

What do you like about your hearing aids? What don't you like? How do you explain to people that sounds are different through hearing aids? We spent all that money and it's still hard to hear what people are saying in a noisy room.

To me, it has sometimes felt like a  'trial and error' activity when trying to work out how to get the best from my hearing aids. 

So I decided  to write the booklet I would love to have read when I first got my hearing aids.
And it is coming out in print soon!

It's short, with lots of information.
It's got tips about how to get used to new hearing aids, what they do and don't do, and tips for your family and friends.

Watch this space ...