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THE BABY BOOMER GENERATION! We are definitely in the news this year, with the first of our group turning 65 and all of us "flirting" with our senior citizen status! We're being told that 60 is the "new 40," we can do anything we want, and we're doing lots more than our parents did at the same age. BUT, can we hear what we're being told?
According to an interesting article by Carsten Trads, president of Clarity, a division of Plantronics and the leading supplier of communication solutions for people with hearing loss, such as amplified telephones, maybe not! I found his information quite useful and I am very pleased to be able to share this news with you as well:
"Hearing loss is an under-appreciated problem that affects millions of Americans. According to studies conducted by Clarity and the Ear Foundation, nearly half of all Baby Boomers in the U.S. suffer from some degree of hearing loss. When you factor in the large percentage of senior citizens with hearing loss, there are tens of millions of Americans struggling every day to hear the voices of their friends and families.
Unlike other age-related health challenges, such as vision loss, hearing loss is unique in that it often goes untreated for years. Of the Baby Boomers with hearing loss, the Clarity study indicated that only 26% are using some form of assistive hearing device. Hearing aids are often a good solution, yet many who need hearing aids do not use them because they can be expensive or they fear they will be perceived as old. Luckily, as the number of people affected by hearing loss grows, the number of solutions is expanding as well. It is critical those with hearing loss understand that hearing aids are not the only answer. "
In case you were wondering, YES – I used the photo I took of my senior mom's Jitterbug cell phone for senior citizens on purpose. As GreatCall explains, "The Jitterbug J is equipped with the latest hearing aid compatibility technology called "T-coil" to ensure the best sound quality. It also features a padded earpiece that reduces background noise and is very comfortable for those who wear hearing aids. You can adjust the volume from low to max while you are on a call." Isn't THAT great news for all of us boomers and seniors caring for elderly parents! But that may still not be enough. As Mr. Trads further explains,
"A number of assistive listening devices exist, such as amplified phones, to help people have clearer conversations that are easier to understand. A wide array of amplified telephones – corded, cordless and cellular – are available online and increasingly in mainstream retail outlets. For the best conversations, look for phones with technology that refines audio to boost voices and remove distracting background noises.
Wireless headsets to boost television volume for a specific viewer are also available. Adding this device to existing televisions keeps the volume in the room at a reasonable level and allows the hard-of-hearing user to control their own listening experience. Amplified alarm clocks, add-ons to existing cell phones and more are available, giving those with hearing loss far more options than the standard hearing aid.
Regardless of the technology chosen to help cope with hearing loss, there are a few changes that can be made to how people communicate that will instantly improve conversations.
- Don’t speak too fast. Don’t mumble. If asked to repeat yourself, try using different words than the first time.
- Be expressive! Hand gestures and facial expressions can help give clues about what you’re saying.
- Maintain eye contact as you are talking to someone with hearing loss.
- Use simple words and expressions. Plain language can make it easier to comprehend what is trying to be said.
- Don’t speak or answer for a hearing impaired person when talking with others. Give them time to respond.
- Everyone reads lips and facial cues to better understand conversations. Stand in well-lit areas to help with communication.
- If you have hearing loss, remind people and mention that they need to get your attention before beginning to speak.
- Don’t be passive. If hearing or understanding a conversation is unusually difficult, say so.
- Instead of saying “What?” when you don’t understand what you heard, repeat the parts of the statement that you did hear.
- If you notice a change in your hearing, contact your doctor. Your regular doctor can refer you to an ENT (otolaryngologist) or audiologist. Also, get hearing checkups if you’re exposed to loud noises regularly (e.g. you work at a factory).
Hearing loss is becoming more and more common in our society. We should no longer ignore this issue. By understanding hearing loss, taking advantage of the growing number of solutions available, and putting to good use great tips like these, you can improve your quality of life and reconnect with your friends, family and the larger world around you."
Some great tips there, don't you think? I was especially interested in his comment that everyone reads lips. I thought it was just me and my aging baby boomer ears. 🙂 I loved his first suggestion about using different words the second time you repeat it. And I have to remind myself AND my grandkids not to take it personally when we each can't hear the other. That's one of the interesting things in our Sandwich Generation family – we have hearing issues at both ends of the age spectrum. And with music getting louder, I suspect we have lots of company. 🙂 What about your family? Do you deal with hearing issues when caring for elderly parents or babysitting grandchildren? Do you have more tips to share? We'd love to hear.
P.S. Remember the amplified alarm clocks he mentioned above? Check this one out – the Clarity 600 Wake Assure Alarm Clock With Bed Shaker – it even shakes the bed! Hmmmm, I could have used that for some teens a few years ago. In fact, alarm clocks for heavy sleepers might be just the perfect Christmas gifts for grand-tweens and teens as well as the elderly parents and relatives. 🙂