The Living Sounds Blog

Tips For Effective Communication

Hello everyone! Thank you so much for reading our blog! In the past, we have talked about how to communicate effectively, but effective communication between a person with normal hearing and a person who is hard of hearing does not always take place. Normal hearing people often forget how important their role is when speaking to a person with hearing loss. Below are some great tips for how people with normal hearing can help themselves be heard by someone with hearing loss, and tips for individuals with hearing loss to increase their listening abilities.

Tips for a Hearing Person to Communicate with Person Who Has a Hearing Loss

Position yourself properly

  • Get the person’s attention first.
  • Face the person directly.
  • Highlight your face with light around you so the person you are speaking to can clearly see your mouth (no backlighting).
  • Ask how you can facilitate communication.
  • Avoid noisy backgrounds.
  • When audio and acoustics are poor, emphasize the visual.

Speaking to your audience

  • Don’t shout.
  • Speak clearly, at moderate pace, and don’t over-emphasize words.
  • Don’t hide your mouth, chew food, gum, or smoke while talking.
  • Re-phrase your sentence if you are not understood.
  • Use facial expressions and gestures.
  • Give clues when changing subjects or say “new subject.”

Be empathic to your audience

  • Be patient if the person’s response seems slow.
  • Talk to the person who is hard of hearing, not about him or her to another person.
  • Show respect to help build confidence and have a constructive conversation.
  • Maintain a sense of humor, and stay positive and relaxed.

 Tips for a Person with Hearing Loss to Communicate with a Hearing People

Inform your audience and plan ahead

  • Tell others how to best communicate with you.
  • Hold a conversation in a space that allows you to hear the best you can (light, quiet area, close to speaker).
  • Anticipate difficult situations, and plan how to minimize them.

Do your part. Focus to listen.

  • Pay attention.
  • Concentrate on the speaker.
  • Look for visual clues.
  • Ask for written cues if needed.
  • Don’t interrupt the speaker. Let conversation flow to fill in the blanks and gain more meaning.
  • Maintain a sense of humor, and stay positive and relaxed.

Be empathic to your audience

  • React. Let the speaker know how well he or she is conveying the information.
  • Don’t lie. Admit it when you don’t understand.
  • If you are too tired to concentrate, ask to have the discussion at a later time.
  • Thank the speaker for making an effort to communicate clearly.

If you have any questions about how to communicate more effectively to people with or without hearing loss, feel free to contact us at Living Sounds Hearing Centre 1-800-232-7289.

Klinton Pilling, BC-HIS
Board Certified in Hearing Instruments Sciences
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner

 

The Hearing Better Journey with Living Sounds

Life without hearing becoming withdrawn; unable to hear voices over that song.
Wondering how it ever got this far, can’t even hear the signal in your car.
Those sweet sounds in life escape your ear, and yet you hesitate out of fear.
Step through our doors we welcome you in, the time is come the journey begins.

Each little detail we handle with care, no stone unturned we want you aware.
Every step of the way we will guide through, this journey of course is all about you.
Ensuring your comfort is our main concern, have no fear your trust we will earn.
The moment you walk into our place, you will instantly be greeted with a smiling face.

We offer a home where no judgment is passed; our customer service is top of the class.
Making new friends is where we start; your satisfaction truly warms our hearts.
Watching our clients re-explore those sounds, regaining confidence in leaps and bounds.
That is the reason we are here every day, to listen with excitement at all you will say.

Something as subtle as a ticking clock; or the heartwarming voice of a child as they talk.
Hearing the birds sing for the first time again, the sounds you will discover have no end.
So welcome new friend to Living Sounds, we hope you will seek a treasure now found.
Let us explore where your journey will lead; we wish only to help you to succeed.

Emma Poole
Customer Care Liaison

Not Hearing in Groups: High Frequency Hearing Loss Increases the Chances of Hearing Problems in Groups

People often tell me they feel their hearing is fine, but that they have trouble understanding other people in noisy environments such as restaurants or family gatherings. This is typically the first sign of hearing loss. We regularly see high-frequency hearing loss as people age. One of the first symptoms of high-frequency hearing loss is noticing that you can hear and understand people in quiet spaces, but cannot understand the same people in a noisy environment.

Hearing loss is hearing loss whether or not you are surrounded by noise or silence — there is no difference. What is important is how much you understand what you hear. When people don’t understand as much in the presence of noise in a group setting, they feel left out. The fun of participating in groups declines and they stop doing the social activities they love. Ultimately, hearing loss affects lifestyle.

Even though high frequency hearing loss may be mild, it is still worth paying attention to. Low frequency sounds have larger sound waves, and therefore have more energy and sounds louder than the voices you want to hear. Most of the volume in speech is produced by low frequency vowels while the intelligence in speech is produced by high frequency consonants.

This means that because you hear low frequency sounds well, you can still hear people talking with no problem. However, because you cannot hear the high frequency sounds as well, you don’t hear the consonants that carry most of the meaning of speech. When you suffer a high frequency hearing loss, even if it is just a mild loss, understanding speech in the presence of background noise becomes more difficult.

Wearing open fit hearing aids that do not occlude the ear canal and boost the volume of higher frequencies will improve the voice to noise ratio in noisy situations.

I love my open fit Starkey Muse hearing aids in noisy situations. Sometimes I find myself hearing things that people around me with normal hearing are struggling to understand. Occasionally, when I am not wearing my hearing aids at a family gathering, one of my grandchildren will comment when I do not hear/understand them. Hearing my grandchildren is the biggest reason for me to use my hearing aids, even if my hearing loss is mild.

Cathy Robinson BC-HIS
Board Certified in Hearing Instruments Sciences
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner

Introducing Ear Gear: A Simple Way to Protect Your Hearing Aid(s)

With normal wear, hearing aids are continually exposed to various elements like dandruff, dirt, sweat and moisture. These can all cause damage to the complex electronics of the hearing aid.

Thankfully there’s an easy solution in a product called Ear Gear, a smart and inexpensive way to help protect your hearing aids against harmful elements. Ear Gear is a spandex sleeve that covers your hearing aids and comes in many different colours and prints, corded or cordless. If you have young children who wear hearing aids or a parent or grandparent in an assisted living facility that wears hearing aids, Ear Gear also clips onto clothing, giving you peace of mind that your loved ones won’t lose their hearing aids.

If you would like more information on Ear Gear, please call us at Living Sounds Hearing Centre at 1-800-232-7289 and we would be more than happy to help you find one that suits your needs!

Valerie Stroeder, BC-HIS
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner

GO OILERS GO!!!

Edmonton’s hockey team is on a wild ride and everyone is excited to go along with it. Our ears, however, are not so excited. Along with amazing hockey comes cheering fans with loud voices, as well as noisemakers, horns, clapping hands and stomping feet. Add in loud speakers and we’ve got more noise than our ears can handle.

An online site called People Hearing Better stated that ‘decibel levels at a sporting event can go from a penetrating 105 to a damaging 130. That’s loud enough for a fan to feel physical pain.’ When we find ourselves in this kind of noise without hearing protection, we increase the natural risk of hearing loss as well as open ourselves up to tinnitus. Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing in the ears that can be temporary or permanent, intermittent or constant. For some it is just a mild annoyance, but for others it can be debilitating.

Let’s keep our hearing intact by lowering our risk for hearing loss and avoiding the annoyance of tinnitus so we can watch and enjoy games at the arena, the party, or the pub. Let’s remember proper hearing protection so we can continue to hear the sounds of hockey — the skates on the ice, the crack of the stick, the sound of the buzzer, and best of all the sound of the horn when the OILERS SCORE!

Contact the Living Sounds Hearing Centre to find out how you can protect your hearing.

Amanda McLeod BC-HIS
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences


Amanda@livingsounds.ca
Locations: Barrhead, McQueen Seniors Lodge, and John Roberts Centre

A Day in the Life of a Hearing Aid Battery

Hearing aid batteries are a common topic of discussion at Living Sounds. Many clients report that some brands last longer than others, but I am primarily knowledgeable about Rayovac batteries, as they’re the batteries we trust and use in our clinics.

Here are some of the factors that will determine how long a hearing aid battery lasts:

1. As the severity of hearing loss increases, more amplification is required which draws more current from the battery, draining it quicker.

2. The smaller the battery, the shorter life span it has. For example, a size 10 battery lasts 3-5 days, a size 312 lasts 5-7 days, a size 13 lasts 7-10 days, and a size 675 lasts 10-14 days (approximately).

3. The number of days per week and the number of hours a day a hearing aid is used can determine how long a battery lasts. The more it’s used, the quicker it drains.

4. Different features in today’s digital hearing aids can increase battery currents such as: noise cancellation, multi-channel processing, FM looping, tinnitus sound generators, and wireless or Bluetooth streaming features. How fast a battery drains depends on how often these features are used and for how long. Having said that, these features are very necessary —especially if the hearing aids are being worn in busy environments to improve hearing speech over background noise.

5. Environmental factors: Low humidity in cold winter months can cause batteries to dry out if they’re primarily indoors for many months. High humidity may cause batteries to take on moisture, interfering with the natural function resulting in swelling or leakage. Another factor is temperature — batteries can drain faster when they spend too long in cold outdoor or refrigerated environments. And finally, higher altitudes mean less oxygen in the air, which can lower battery voltage, causing it to die sooner.

Important Tips: To get more life from your zinc air hearing aid batteries, remove the sticker tab from the top of the battery and allow the battery to sit for one to five minutes (when possible) to ‘air up’. The battery voltage will rise to about 1.3 volts, which can power a hearing aid. The battery can take up to 24 hours to reach the full voltage of 1.45 volts, but this level is not required to power a hearing aid. Once you have removed the sticker tab from a battery it cannot be stuck back on the battery. An un-tabbed battery is active and will drain slowly even if never used in a hearing aid.

I hope these tips will help you with your hearing aid batteries in the future.

Happy hearing!

Kim Ryll, BC-HIS
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences

Simple Hearing Aid Maintenance Tips and Tricks

It is recommended that you visit your hearing health care professional about once every six months to have your hearing aids professionally cleaned. But what can you do in between your visits to the clinic to keep your hearing aids working optimally?

Here are some of the ways you can prevent the most common causes of hearing aid issues at home with a few quick tips and reminders:

Ear Wax Build-up

The most common culprit of hearing aid repairs is due to cerumen or ear wax. The ear canal contains not only the solid or soft components of ear wax, but also vapour that can migrate deep into the hearing aid where it can become solid and settle on critical mechanical components. It is recommended to use a soft cloth or cleaning brush (you can get one from your clinician) to use on your hearing aid to keep the microphones and receiver clean from debris. It is not recommended to use tissue, as tissue can contain aloe or lotions.

Many hearing aids today have ‘wax filters’ that generally need to be changed on a monthly basis, and every manufacturer has a special tool to help you do this. There are many different styles of hearing aids, and since the cleaning from one style to the other can change, it is best to schedule an appointment with your hearing health care provider to help clean them. It is recommended and important to clean your aids regularly.

Exposure to Moisture

Any exposure to water, humidity, condensation or perspiration can cause serious damage to a hearing aid. Today, many hearing aids are designed to be highly water (hydrophobic) and oil (oleophobic) resistant. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the design of today’s hearing aids, it is difficult to protect hearing aids from all oil and moisture hazards. However, there are certain measures you can take to help safeguard against the build-up of moisture that can lead to your hearing aids getting damaged. For example, you can prevent accidental exposure to moisture by leaving your hearing aids in a case as well as a different room before you shower. You would be surprised how many people have accidently worn their hearing aids in the shower! Also, the bathroom can have a more humid environment, so it is best to not store them there.

When you go to sleep at night, be sure to open the battery door fully. This not only preserves your battery life but also allows air circulation through the hearing aid. Ideally, it is also recommended that you store your hearing aids in a dehumidifier. They are relatively inexpensive and help to draw out moisture from your hearing aid at night while you are sleeping. For those who perspire more and lead an active lifestyle, there are more aggressive dehumidifiers available that your hearing health provider can recommend. If you ever drop your hearing aid in water, immediately open the battery door and make an appointment to see your clinician to check it for damage.

Physical Damage

To avoid physical damage to the hearing aid, store your hearing aids in a safe place, out of reach of small children and pets. Animals tend to be drawn to our scent, and we have often seen chewed up hearing aids in our clinic from a client’s cat or dog. If your hearing aid has been chewed or is in pieces, collect all the pieces you see, put them in your container, and see your clinician right away.

Danielle De Roose, BC-HIS
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner

Better Hearing is a Process!

At Living Sounds Hearing Centre, we often talk about hearing aids and how they work, how to manage new hearing devices when they are purchased, or hearing loss and how to protect hearing in the first place. We talk about the emotions involved and the significant impact hearing loss has on a person or the person’s family and friends. We even talk about medical implications and certain diseases that are correlated with hearing loss. However, I fear we don’t talk enough about hearing rehabilitation and what this process actually looks like for most first-time hearing aid users!

First, I’d like to start by saying, “Congratulations!” if you are reading this right now. You’ve started down the path towards better hearing and communication by showing interest in improving a problem that may be affecting you or someone you love. This is one of the earliest stages in the process of hearing rehabilitation. Even if you haven’t purchased hearing aids or even identified a hearing loss yet, you are thinking about the prospect that action is needed. You’re on your way.

The next few steps in the process are straightforward. First, a hearing test is needed to identify hearing levels. If hearing loss is diagnosed, we will often talk about the options for treating this hearing deficit. When your Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Practitioner makes a recommendation, they are often considering numerous factors that may affect which device is the most suitable for you. They will talk to you about size and styles, technology levels, aesthetics and manageability. These are significant factors to consider; the smallest hearing aid is not always the best hearing aid for your specific hearing loss!

Initially your new hearing device may seem unusual. Suddenly you’ll be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in a while and in some cases, may have forgotten were there in the first place! Your clinician will spend time fitting the hearing aid, a process that includes validating and verifying the hearing aid’s volume or “gain” and noise control features to ensure your hearing needs are being met. In many cases patients’ will need some fine-tuning to help make the sound more enjoyable or more functional in their daily lives. Overtime, your brain will become reacquainted with the environmental sounds around you.

There are auditory training techniques that help the brain adjust to new sounds. These include listening games and exercises available for download on your phone, computers or tablets that are designed to help challenge your auditory system and help improve the process of acclimatizing to the hearing aid’s sound. These types of games are often designed using visual and auditory cues to help improve your overall comprehension of speech sounds by having you listen to and identify speech sounds as phonemes, words or brief sentences, often with competing noise. Starkey Laboratories developed one such game called “Hear Coach” and it is available for download through iTunes or Google Play for Android.

Your clinician is a great asset during this process. He or she will be able to guide you by making suggestions that are more specific to you and your needs, such as fine-tuning your hearing aid settings to improve your listening experience. At Living Sounds Hearing Centre, our trained professional are always willing to act as a sounding board to discuss the nuances of hearing with hearing aids. We always encourage our patients to contact us regularly during the hearing rehab process to ensure that everything is going smoothly.

Tania Gora, MSc, R.Aud, Aud (C)
Registered Audiologist

How to Hear the 5 Types of Troublesome Talkers

Are you used to turning your hearing aids up to full blast but still find yourself unable to follow what a person is saying? It can be very hard to communicate, particularly with people who have developed undesirable speaking habits. Fear not! The only thing those troublesome talkers need is a friendly reminder that they could be communicating a lot better. Let us look at the different type of talkers we meet and how we can help communicate with them easier:

  • The Road Runner – This person speaks very quickly and is hard to understand. They are very entertaining to speak with — as long as we can follow!
  • What you can do: You don’t need to be a Wiley Coyote to communicate with them! Just politely ask them to slow down and speak clearly.
  • The Secret Agent – This person speaks very quietly…almost in a whisper. You might think they are telling a secret, but don’t be fooled – they’re just soft spoken.
  • What you can do: Don’t go incognito, simply ask them to speak up and project their voice.
  • The Wallflower – This person will talk to you from entirely different room and may even get frustrated if you do not respond. You love them like a flower but walls are a great divider.
  • What you can do: Ask them to get your attention and make sure that they are within your line of sight before communicating. Don’t pick on them – just remind them with care.
  • The Ninja – This person always has their mouth covered or uses limited mouth movement so you can’t read their lips.
  • What you can do: Hold onto your dragon star! Ask them to make their face visible so you can see (and hear) what they are saying.
  • The Expressionist – This person uses gestures and body movement to express their point. In my opinion the Expressionist is most creative of them all and the easiest to follow because of their movement and animation when speaking.
  • What you can do: Listen and enjoy the artistic expression at play in their communication style and ask them to slow down and speak clearly if needed.

Communication is more than just hearing. You may need to ask someone to slow down and speak clearly more than once – maybe even more than 100 times! However, by reminding them with love and grace you will be giving them strategies for better communication that will go beyond your conversation.

Alissa Horneland, BC-HIS
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner

February is Heart Month!

February is known for Valentine’s Day, and as such, it has also become a month for awareness of heart health. Did you know that studies have shown cardiovascular damage is linked to hearing loss? Researchers indicate that a lack of blood flow throughout the body can have a detrimental impact on our ears, as the small size of the inner ear system is affected by any change in blood flow. When the inner ear has a reduction in blood, the nerves cells have a greater chance of dying off, in turn, causing hearing loss.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States indicate a number of factors that affect your cardiovascular health including:

  • Smoking
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes and
  • Lack of activity

Take some time during Heart Month to assess your well-being. Talk to your doctor about your heart health and talk to Living Sounds about your hearing health by calling 780-488-8100.

Carlee Johnson, BC-HIS
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences


About

As a full service hearing health care provider, Living Sounds Hearing Centre Ltd. offers a variety of hearing aid products, assistive listening devices and hearing services from clinic locations in Edmonton, Sherwood Park, St. Albert, Barrhead, Drayton Valley, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, St. Paul, Stony Plain, Vegreville, Westlock, and Westaskiwin.
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12310 - 105 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
T5N 0Y4

Ph: 780-488-8100
Toll Free: 1-800-232-7289

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