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The National Campaign for Better Hearing

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No big deal: Ending the stigma of hearing loss

It’s no big deal! Really. After all, it’s 2018. So isn’t it time that we end the stigma related to wearing hearing aids and hearing loss? Since inclusion has become pervasive in today’s society, why not let go of any negative images of hearing loss? Here at New England Hearing Instruments we know that people of any age can have hearing loss and that wearing hearing aids is a smart solution to a challenge. Let’s all let go of any negative associations to hearing loss.

Not just “old people” have hearing loss

Some people equate wearing hearing aids with old age, but it simply isn’t true. Plenty of young people have hearing loss and use hearing aids or implants. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that 2-3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with some hearing loss.1 Schools across the country, from pre-school through high school, make accommodations to “mainstream” students with hearing loss, and several colleges offer programs specifically for students with hearing loss.

Why is there a stigma? Self-perception, ageism and vanity

Even though many younger people have it, hearing loss continues to be thought of as something only old people experience. It isn’t. Nor is it anything to be embarrassed about. Yet, recent research shows that stigma remains an issue. In 2010, The Gerontologist conducted research focused on stigma and hearing loss, and how these may impact an individual’s decision to wear hearing aids. The researchers found that perceived stigma did make a difference in whether people with hearing loss accepted hearing aids and how well they adapted to them.2 People in the study expressed concerns about being seen as old, or worried that people may stare at them if they were wearing hearing aids. But this isn’t new. The study noted that the concept of stigma dates back to the ancient Greeks, and that people labeled stigma to alterations in self-perception, ageism and vanity.

Society has changed rapidly over the last decade

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans have improved their view of people with disabilities,3 especially since 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act became law. People’s viewpoints have changed. But assistive technologies, such as hearing aids, play an integral role in helping people with challenges integrate fully into society. Getting to know people with hearing loss, seeing how well they manage with hearing aids at home, work and in the community, helps break down any residual stigma.

Hearing loss is an invisible disability

You can’t see if someone has hearing loss, so sometimes it’s hard to tell if they struggle to hear you. A hearing aid may be the only clue. Hearing aid manufactures understand that aesthetics count. Sometimes hearing aids are so well-hidden that they’re even invisible. Others have a sleek design, available in many colors, including a variety of skin-tones. Some people choose to flaunt the latest in hearing aids designs and pick bolder colors, like blues or pinks. And why not? We think that hearing aids are nothing to hide!

Why break the stigma?

Hearing loss advocate, Shari Eberts, recently wrote in Psychology Today that the time has come to end the stigma of hearing loss. She lists multiple avenues you can follow to break the stigma of hearing loss. She encourages the public to do the following:

      “Get your hearing tested as part of your annual medical screening and encourage your friends and family to do the same.”
      “If you have hearing loss, treat it.”
      “If you have hearing aids, wear them.”
      “Speak up about your hearing loss”4

We agree that all of these things can help the public understand hearing loss and improve their own well-being.

Want more information on ending stigmas, accepting hearing loss and finding the best options for you?

Whether you are a “newbie” to hearing loss or have been facing hearing loss for decades, we can help you choose the best solution for your individual needs. We understand that first-time wearers may go through a process to get used to hearing aids, and our experienced team know how to help acclimate you to wearing your new devices. Want to learn more? Make a no-obligation appointment. Should you need hearing aids, we will help you find the right design for your ears. Call (508) 925-7721 to book time with us.

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What Your Hearing Care Provider Can Do For You

What prevents individuals from achieving better hearing? There are several answers. For many people, hearing loss seems to just sneak up slowly over time. Many do not even realize they have an issue until it becomes significant. And because it isn’t noticed, it isn’t mentioned at an annual physical, and even more time goes by without seeking help. In fact, on average, it takes a person 7-10 years1 to seek help for hearing loss. By the time a person realizes the full impact of hearing loss, they may just want a quick fix to a complicated problem.

Regrettably, many people with hearing loss are lured into the supposedly “cheaper and easier” methods of correcting it, either through the purchase of hearing aids online, choosing a personal sound amplifier, or by visiting big box stores that are much more concerned with profits than patient care. In spite of the allure of these seemingly simple fixes, the fact is that a professional hearing care provider is your best resource to address your hearing healthcare.

What the big boxes and online hearing aid retailers aren’t telling you

Maybe you’ve heard that you can buy hearing aids similar to those from hearing care professionals from the big box stores for little money. These stores are only successful because they can sell a large volume of low-priced goods, often very cheaply, to gain larger revenue. They focus on efficiency, which is a polite way of saying “get as many people in and out the door as rapidly as possible.” Admittedly, this profit-centric model works well for many purchases, because you probably don’t need professional, personalized care to help choose your t-shirts or soap. Customer service simply doesn’t factor in to these types of purchases. But purchasing hearing aids is more complicated; you need a professional to guide you. Your ears deserve individual attention from trained professionals.

Looks can be deceiving

Beware of hearing aids from online retailers. They are probably not the same quality of product, even if they come from the same manufacturer. Models may differ slightly, making them eligible for discounted pricing, without the features that hearing care professionals can offer.

Hearing care experts use a customer-centric business model

Our hearing care providers are completely different. We are not obsessed with short-term profits because we focus on customer care. Have we identified your individual needs and found a solution that suits you? Are you willing to return to us for your future care? Would you refer us to your friends and neighbors? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then we have been successful in our approach to care.

We thrive on providing quality care, which benefits both the person with hearing loss as well as our team.

In contrast, what will happen if the big box stores can’t deliver quality care and happy customers? They will push more advertising to increase their flow of new customers, offering the same “quick and cheap fix” that lured the original customers.

Because individuals experience hearing differently, it’s important to choose your hearing care provider wisely

Hearing is complex; like our fingerprints, everyone’s hearing is unique. So the frequencies your friend may hear well could be the same ones that you can’t hear. In other words, you can’t just take the surrounding sound, make it all louder, pump it into your ears and expect good results. But this is in essence what personal sound amplifiers and over-the-counter hearing aid models do.

The truth is, the sounds your hearing aids amplify — AND the sounds they don’t — must complement the way you, and only you, hear. Hearing care professionals accomplish this through:

  • Assessing* your hearing to learn the EXACT nature of your hearing loss
  • Understanding the variety of hearing aids and their individual capabilities (as well as what they cannot do)
  • Identifying what works for your needs
  • Fitting and programming your hearing aids to boost the sounds you have difficulty hearing, while identifying and repressing the sounds you don’t want to hear (such as low-frequency background noise)
  • Providing follow-up care, especially in the first few weeks when the device is new and may need further adjustments

For the hearing care provider, acquiring this knowledge requires a lot of instruction and patient care experience. This is how we can conduct the appropriate assessment* to help patients pick the right hearing aid, professionally program the hearing aids and provide the coaching and aftercare necessary for optimal hearing. We don’t cut corners in providing comprehensive hearing care. That is why the results are well worth your time and effort.

Make the right choice for you

Who do you trust with your hearing? Someone who views you only as a transaction, consumer or a means to reaching sales targets? Or do you trust an experienced hearing professional who cares about the same thing you do — attaining the best hearing possible? We think the decision is easy: relationships are the lifeblood of successful hearing care.

Still have questions?

We welcome you to call (508) 925-7721 to make an appointment today. Hearing starts with a conversation. Our friendly team is there for you throughout the process of identifying your needs, finding the right hearing aid (if that’s right for you), fitting, adjusting and following up with you. Your hearing satisfaction is our goal – and we measure our success through your wellness.

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The World Health Organization’s Message for World Hearing Day 2018

Hear the future and prepare for it” is the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) message for World Hearing Day 2018. To that end, New England Hearing Instruments advises everyone to take care of their hearing health.

Take action for hearing health on World Hearing Day

On World Hearing Day, March 3rd, 2018, New England Hearing Instruments hopes to encourage more people to be mindful of their hearing health.1 Based on statistical projections, the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that the prevalence of hearing loss is set to increase globally, and this World Hearing Day discusses how preventative measures could help curb the rise. With more than 5% of the global population already affected by disabling hearing loss2, now is the time to raise awareness and address why people do not recognize the signs when they are affected.

Causes of hearing loss

Many things can cause hearing loss – both in and out of our control. The most common include:

  • Exposure to excessive noise
  • Genetic causes
  • Complications at birth
  • Certain infectious diseases
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Certain medications
  • Aging2

Approximately 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes.2 Although not all hearing loss can be prevented, we can take action to take better care of our ears, such as wearing ear protection when working with loud machinery. More importantly, we can pay more attention to our hearing and seek advice from an expert if we have any concerns.

Hearing loss can be a slow process, so it can be difficult to read the signs of deterioration, and in many cases, is easily ignored. In comparison to loss of sight, hearing loss is not always noticeable. Many people have a vision test annually to maintain eye health. Unfortunately, many people don’t take the same precautions for their ears, because hearing is as important as sight.

Knowing the signs of hearing loss

One key element to maintaining hearing health is paying attention to the early signs of hearing loss, such as:

  • Having the television or radio consistently at a loud volume
  • Struggling to follow conversations (especially in noisy environments such as restaurants)
  • Asking people to repeat themselves often
  • Withdrawal and isolation to avoid tough listening situations
  • Repositioning to point your ears toward sound
  • Not hearing the phone ring, the doorbell or sirens

Untreated hearing loss can be detrimental

Our professionals urge you to address the symptoms of hearing loss. We advise you begin with a professional hearing assessment* to eliminate guesswork. Untreated hearing loss can cause serious long-term conditions, especially later in life, so we implore everyone to maintain their hearing care now.

Hearing loss has a number of side effects. Untreated, hearing loss can cause people to withdraw from socializing and lead to feelings of isolation and depression. Several studies have concluded that hearing loss contributes to the early onset of dementia, including the recent study authored by the Lancet Commissions on Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care.3 Addressing hearing loss is key to remaining cognitive and socially active.

Hearing loss is widespread – and growing

According to the WHO, approximately one third of people over 65 years of age are affected by disabling hearing loss2 and are potentially at risk of affecting their overall health if untreated. With the number of people aged 65 and above predicted to have doubled in 2050 compared to today4, age-related hearing loss is almost certainly a contributing factor to the increasing prevalence of hearing loss. That’s partially why the WHO’s slogan for 2018 is “Hear the future and prepare for it.” Now is the best time to act.

How can you take action on World Hearing Day?

Just by reading this to educate yourself, you are taking an important step. If you have concerns about your hearing, or have someone in your life who shows signs of hearing loss, make an appointment for a free, no-obligation hearing assessment* so you can learn more about your individual needs. Call (508) 925-7721 for more information.

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High-Tech Solutions for Hearing Loss

Do you have hearing loss? Maybe. Imagine if you could hear and remember better with less effort and stress on your brain. Wouldn’t life be easier if you had solutions to help you recall what people say? Good news! The latest hearing aids do just that.

How prevalent is hearing loss?

The answer is that many people have hearing loss and could benefit from using hearing aids. It could be you or a loved one.

Did you know?

  • One in three adults age 65 and above experience some form of hearing loss.1
  • Older adults who use hearing aids show reduced depression symptoms and improved quality of life.1
  • 60% of our military personnel return home from overseas with hearing impairment2, often as a result of noise exposure.
  • One in five teenagers has some level of hearing loss.2
  • Only 3 in 10 adults who had a physical exam in the last year say it included a hearing screening.3

Are you one of the nearly 50 million Americans4 with some degree of hearing loss? (If you aren’t sure, then it might be time for a hearing assessment.*)

Innovative solutions and advanced devices

Today’s hearing aids include very advanced hearing devices with innovative options. Their minuscule size, coupled with hair-toned color options, provides true discreetness. There are exciting new features that will change the way you think about and use hearing aids, including features that:

  • Automatically adjust to different soundscapes
  • Enable you to listen to multiple speakers, even in noisy environments
  • Connect directly to the internet, your smartphone or television via Bluetooth® and wireless capabilities

Most noteworthy, some models offer a convenient, new rechargeable+ unit that saves hundreds of dollars on disposable batteries annually.

Do I have hearing loss?

The first step is to identify your needs.* This involves:

  • Hearing assessment*, complete with baseline and familiar voice tests
  • Otoscopy exam of your ear canal (hearing loss may be from earwax)
  • Live demonstration* of the latest hearing aid technology

In addition, you can learn about the products through a demonstration.

Could your solution lie with high-tech hearing aids?

Our professional team is happy to discuss your needs and solutions that make sense for your lifestyle, habits and budget. Most of all, we want you to feel comfortable with solutions for your hearing loss. Rather than guess, we welcome you to call (508) 925-7721 to make an appointment today.

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The holiday season is approaching

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