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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 (207) 430-3664 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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Higher Education Opportunities for Students with Hearing Loss

According to the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), approximately 77,000 students between ages 3 and 21 have hearing loss severe enough to qualify them for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Consequently, public schoolchildren with disabilities have the right to special accommodations in elementary through secondary school. Sometimes this results in creating an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP. But what happens after high school?

Hearing loss shouldn’t stand in the way of higher education

Picking among colleges may feel like a daunting task. So if you have aspirations for a degree, remember that you have options. To start, most colleges have departments that help students with needs design solutions. This may be similar to the IEP services you received in high school. If you are returning to college as a non-traditional aged student, it may surprise you how much easier it is to access help today. Remember, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires public colleges and universities to offer equal access to all students. While support mechanisms may differ from one school to another, hearing loss should not impede getting an education.

Finding the right fit for students with hearing loss

Colleges and universities must provide appropriate academic adjustments to make sure students are not discriminated against based on disability. However, many programs go beyond that help students to get the most out of their learning experiences. And this includes hearing loss.

Prospective students have to face many choices. Is a large university or a small liberal arts college what you want? Or maybe an urban environment seems like a better fit. Perhaps an enclosed campus feels more at home. In addition, if you have hearing loss, maybe you prefer schools with exceptional accommodations for your needs.

While it may be hard to know where to start, here are a few programs. Most of these schools are especially relevant for students with severe or profound hearing loss:

Pursuing hearing-related research and education

Is audiology your passion? Maybe you want to consider a path researching audiology and hearing loss. Across the country, schools offer programs to train tomorrow’s audiologist. One resource is the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s online directory of higher educational programs in audiology. Most noteworthy, prospective students may apply for scholarships to study audiology.

A few colleges also offer future educators tailored programs for working in deaf education, including a collaboration between Smith College and the Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech. In addition, there is the University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s Center on Deafness. They published a guide for service providers with information that potential students and families might find useful.

Fall is peak season for applying

Most of all, if you are considering programs that start next year, now’s the time to get your ducks in a row. Our staff can discuss the latest in communication-focused technology. Even more, we can advise how to integrate hearing aids in certain learning environments. Finally, contact Gil Poliquin Hearing at (207) 430-3664 today to set up an appointment.

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Preparing for holiday gatherings with hearing loss

Whether you are preparing to host an event this coming holiday season or are attending an impromptu gathering of friends, this is an important time to catch up with loved ones. But what if hearing loss poses a challenge for communicating?

When people gather it can be noisy. Especially if many people are speaking at the same time. Add in holiday music, restaurant chatter or a football game on in the background, and even people with excellent hearing may have trouble understanding a conversation with someone standing next to them.

If you follow these tips, it may be easier to catch up with loved ones and enjoy their company.

Pick a good place to hear at holiday events

Whether you are in a home or a restaurant, try to position yourself in a space with less background noise. Follow these tips:

  • Flooring and walls – Carpeting, tablecloths and drapery help to absorb noise.
  • Pick the right room – In a home, try to avoid the kitchen or areas near the TV. If you are in a restaurant, ask for a seat away from the kitchen or bar.
  • Avoid the amplifiers – Although you can’t always get away from blaring music, try to be as far from speakers as possible. Corners or booths can provide some relief.
  • Try for 1:1 conversations – If you really want to catch every word, there is nothing wrong with finding a quieter spot in the hallway, or even outside for one-on-one conversations.

Arrive early to choose the best seat in the house

When choosing your seat, try to be where you can see people’s faces – that way you can pick up on facial cues. Try to sit where there is good lighting. If one ear is stronger than the other, offer the person you wish to speak to the seat on your strong side. You can also ask a relative or friend to help you fill in the gaps if you miss part of the conversation.

Don’t be shy about your hearing loss this holiday season

In noisy situations there is no reason to hide your hearing loss. While it may be easier to pretend that you can hear, nodding along with the others, this is not fair to you (or to the person speaking). If you feel you missed out, there is nothing wrong with asking for a recap afterward.

You can also let people know you are missing some of the conversation with simple visual cues like placing your hand to your ear. This won’t disrupt the flow of conversations but will signal to the speaker to speak up or slow down.

Sometimes a simple reminder for relatives to speak slower works wonders.

Noticed changes in your hearing? There’s still time to get help

Although planning may be underway, the holiday season is still a few weeks away. If you are worried about hearing at Thanksgiving, holiday parties or other gatherings, there’s time to have a no-obligation hearing assessment* to see if hearing aids are an option for you. A hearing specialist can also give you tips on communicating with loved ones. If you are concerned about a loved one’s hearing, offer to bring them for an appointment. We encourage caregivers, friends and family to join our patients for the first appointment.

Let your hearing aids help you

Sometimes the most obvious strategy is the best solution. If you have hearing aids, wear them. Plus, if you forget them and have trouble following along, it may frustrate your family. The newest hearing aids have technical advancements designed for complex hearing environments, where noise is coming from multiple sources. Newer devices make it easier to hear what you want to hear, even in the situations with multiple people speaking.

For best results, try various settings in advance to see which works best for you in noisy environments. If this isn’t enough, you may also want to consider the extra help of a discreet clip-on microphone. If you would like help with your hearing aids’ settings or perhaps reprogramming them, stop in.

It’s your holiday too, so enjoy it!

If you have new hearing aids, go easy on yourself. Take short breaks to give your brain a rest and re-energize when you feel fatigue setting in. If conversation at the table is challenging, focus on the people nearest you. If a group is too noisy or fast-paced, try a smaller and quieter group to join. Social events are for your enjoyment – not a test of your stamina.

Don’t let hearing loss keep you from enjoying the people and things you love. Locate your closest hearing professional and make an appointment with Gil Poliquin Hearing.

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Exercise Your Way To Health and Good Hearing!

Every doctor has one prescription ready patients: keep your body healthy through diet and exercise!

This suggestion may include a diet full of plenty leafy greens or getting extra steps by parking the car a little further away from the office. Regardless of your method of staying fit, it has been proven time and time again that your quality of life benefits from an active, healthy lifestyle. This doesn’t stop with toned muscles and a heightened stamina. Studies have shown that exercise (especially in women) is related to a decreased risk of hearing loss.

Here is our version of a Wellness Prescription for Health:

  • Exercise! Yes, adding even just 20 minutes of aerobic exercise can help do the trick. Keeping up with exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight. This helps lower the odds of hearing loss in the future!
  • Just say no to smoking! Smoking can lead to hearing loss… and yes, this even includes second hand smoke. Yellow skin and black lungs are not the only thing that await, so think before you light up.
  • Be careful of NSAID pain relievers. Taking over the counter pain relievers that include ibuprofen or acetaminophen too frequently can lead to damage in the ear.
    This can result in unneeded hearing loss. Try to take these medications only when absolutely necessary.
  • Turn the volume down on your headphones and earbuds. Setting your volume settings to 60% limits how loud a phone or MP3 player can play music automatically. Your ears will thank you… as well as your companions.
  • Include fruits and vegetables in your diet. You especially want to try and eat ones that have magnesium and antioxidants (berries, leafy greens, bananas, avocados, etc..).
  • Always remember to wear hearing protectors when attending loud events or recreational activities. This can include concerts, yardwork, sporting events… any gathering that makes your heart flutter, not out of affection, but reverb! Hearing protectors are comfortable and easy to use for all types of ears.

When caring for your well-being, don’t forget that your ears are important! Like your knees and your teeth, they need protection. And like the rest of your body, your ears benefit from eating well, getting enough rest and aerobic activities.

Start with a free assessment*

Find out more about your hearing health. What you learn may surprise you. Our hearing care professionals are always willing to give tips on healthy hearing and how this impacts healthy hearing. Make an appointment today.

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