All About YOU! Episode 28 Benefits and Limitations of Hearing Aids + SPEAK UP!
Welcome back to the All About Audiology podcast!
For information about Speak Up Session, visit allaboutaudiology.com/speakup
To Download the free Hearing Aid Checklist, visit https://allaboutaudiology.com/free-hearing-aid-checklist/
I’m your host, Dr. Lilach Saperstein and this is All About You! Episode 28.
What are some of the greatest benefits of using hearing aids and what are the greatest challenges or limitations of hearing aids?
I asked you guys this question over on my Instagram @allaboutaudiology podcast and got so many responses from many of you who are hearing aid users yourselves and also from parents, caregivers, family members or loved ones of children or someone you know who are using hearing aids. I wanted to get some of your input on the biggest benefits and some of the most difficult challenges of hearing aids. And you guys sent me a lot of answers so I want to share that with you.
Just to really take a moment and recognize that hearing aids and cochlear implants are devices that can be incredibly beneficial and helpful to lots of different people throughout their lives. But there are also limitations that have to be considered and we can’t look at this thing and say, ‘Oh, they have their hearing aids, so they can hear everything.’ Or, ‘Now that the child has a cochlear implant, BOOM, they are good to go.’ We also need to recognize that there are going to be a lot of difficulties along the way, hopefully not A LOT of them, but there are definitely going to be some difficulties. And in terms of limitations, when you are talking about a microphone, that microphone is going to have a specific range of how far away it can pick up sounds.
So I’m going to read a couple of responses I got from you guys. One of the beautiful things that I love to hear about the benefits of hearing aids, is when people tell me that they feel they have gotten their life back. They feel like they are able to participate in the world that they want to be a part of. To be able to work and hear their colleagues, to be able to go to school… I heard from one of you who is studying to become an audiologist and I found it to be so beautiful the way you wrote, ‘I love them. The best part of hearing aids is they allow me to participate in most situations. And Bluetooth connections allow me to be connected. The worst part is still in bars and clubs where I still struggle and have to worry about the weather and situations that might damage my hearing aids.’
I responded and told him that it’s amazing that he’s studying audiology and soon enough, he will be able to program his own hearing aids. I was really moved by what you said, ‘Someday I’m going to be able to look at a scared little boy like I was and show them that they can do anything.’ That’s what you wrote to me. Those are the moments that it really feels like doing this podcast is really important and getting all of us to talk about how amazing it is that we have these technologies and we have audiologists who are trained in helping people to get to this place, where there is less fear and more possibility and more hope for the future.
Now, one of the very interesting limitations that he mentioned, which, I had thought about but really hadn’t given that much weight to, was about the weather and worrying about the hearing aids being damaged from rain, wind or snow, or whatever the weather is where you are. Having the limitation of participating in some more extreme weather sports like skiing. Even just being out and about during a snow storm or in a downpour, I hadn’t really considered how much mental energy there would go into protecting hearing aids, like always having a hood or a hat to wear over the hearing aids, or having to take the devices out during those situations. So then you are not getting the benefit of the amplification that you usually get.
That was a very interesting point. If anyone has a good point about dealing with hearing technology in inclement weather, do let us know by commenting on Instagram or joining the All About Audiology Facebook group and sharing your tips there.
Another response I received on Instagram was from a young woman, who told me that she’s been using BTEs (Behind The Ear) Hearing Aids for about a year and the best thing is it makes her feel like her hearing loss can’t hold her back. The worst thing is that she’s worried that because they are so little, she might lose them. Again, this is something that we definitely address as audiologists, we talk to you about the insurance policy that comes with the hearing aids. One year for a loss or damage, two years for a repair, whatever the contract happens to be. Asking this question made me take stock and really look at what are the things that actual users are struggling with or thinking about; Durability and reliability of the actual device that you come to rely on. Then you worry about the weather or you worry about losing it and you have that bit of anxiety about something that’s so crucial to you.
For me, it’s helpful to understand it like the way we have all become attached to our phones. Of course, you would put your phone away if there was a rainstorm, you wouldn’t want it to get drenched in water. You also always kind of do this check to make sure you have your phone when you get off the train or something like that. So, it’s kind of similar, it’s something that we have become attached to and really rely on a piece of technology that makes a difference in our lives. So, you can get a sense of what it’s like to have hearing aids or cochlear implants that you treat in a similar way or even more because they are your connection to communicating with the world.
Another of the people who responded to this Instagram story, ended up having a very interesting back and forth with me about battery drain. They were telling me that they used to get a lot more time out of the battery than they are getting now. I talked to them about this specific kind of test that can be done in the audiologist office with real ear measurement equipment or Verifit equipment which can run a battery drain test to see if there is any issue specifically with that. Or if the hearing aids are sent into the company for a check and repair, then they can also do those tests to see if there is an issue with the amount of battery that is being drained. She said that she had never heard about that test. No one at the office had ever offered that to her and just said that she’ll need more batteries. That’s one of the interesting things.
I asked her, ‘Are you doing a lot of streaming?’ She said she isn’t using streaming which does take up a lot of battery. We ended up having some great conversations over on Instagram and I invite you to join me over there. If you are new to hearing aids, there is a lot to learn and it can be overwhelming, especially if you are a parent to a young child. There is a lot of little moving parts and you have to get it into their ear and make sure they keep it there. Little kids have super curious and quick hands and they want to pull it out right away. So I have a gift for you, if you haven’t downloaded it already. It is the hearing aid checklist and you can find that on my website, allaboutaudiology.com. There is a tab right at the top to download a morning and evening checklist routine for caring and cleaning and maintaining hearing aids for your child. So definitely go and check it out. There will be a link in the description and also on the website.
For my listeners who are working with children who have hearing devices, all of my pediatric audiologists, speech language pathologists, teachers of the deaf, you guys might want to download this guide and include it as a little gift for your families over the holiday break or when they get back. You can send them the link or you can print it out for them as a little gift.
Speaking of the holiday season, a lot of us hear about how the holidays are a time for being all together and having a lot of family time. Hopefully there is a lot of love, positivity, gratitude, presence and appreciation of all of the beautiful good cheer. But, it can also be a difficult time for someone with a hearing loss, or families that are dealing with hearing loss. There can especially be pressure from family members who are well meaning most of the time, or friends or people that you interact with over the holidays, who make some comments or say some things that might really hit a raw nerve.
This is something that I have really noticed within our community and things that I’ve spoken to many of you about, and it’s been a major focus of my work with my All About Audiology podcast. That is noticing that the hearing loss is just one piece of your whole experience but it can be a very significant piece. So from my perspective as an audiologist and doing counseling and working with families, I know that this can be a very difficult time and a very difficult trigger.
So I’m opening up some spots to work with you one-on-one for something that I’m calling a Speak Up session. Someone might say to you about your child, ‘Hey, what’s that in their ear? What’s on their head? Why do they talk like that?’ It could be your cute little cousin, or your brother-in-law’s sister, or someone you don’t see often, and all of the sudden they could say something to you, that whether or not they realize, it might bring up some of that dreaded feeling, that pit in your stomach. Or when you hear someone saying, ‘Your kid isn’t listening, how come?’ You just kind of want to be swallowed up or run away or just yell at everyone to just stop.
Sometimes when people say things like that, it’s pushing a button that makes you feel like you’re going to spill over and cry or else you’re going to yell in a rage. You don’t really know how to handle those situations, but deep down you know that it’s because you don’t really know what to say. You are still struggling with understanding how to be this “empowered advocate”. These words that are making you feel really pressured and you want to speak up for your child, and you want to know what to do in these situations, but maybe you still feel stuck.
The “Speak Up” session is a one hour virtual meeting with me and we work together to understand what those emotional triggers are and how to get out of those loops that are keeping you stuck. So we’ll work on getting the exact words that you’ve been looking for. It’s going to make you feel so good about your responses to those rude or ignorant comments that other people will be so blown away by your confidence. You’ll be teaching and educating and advocating, but you’ll be doing it in this smooth, non-confrontational way that will even make them want to be closer to you. They will just be so wowed by you and see that you really have this figured out.
Guess what?! As a bonus side effect, your child will then gain confidence for themselves because you’re modeling for them what it looks like to speak up for themselves and be their own self-advocate. I say this all the time but you guys, parents, caregivers or grandparents, you are already the best advocate that you can be for that kiddo. You just sometimes need to find those words and discover that confidence within yourself. So if you’re interested in that boost, head over to allaboutaudiology.com/speakup. You can see more details about the session.
It’s a sixty minute virtual meeting and you’ll come out of it feeling excited for those holiday get-togethers and you’ll feel really enthusiastic about explaining your child’s hearing loss or answering back to those comments that right now you don’t know what to say. What do they mean and what are they saying about me? You kind of just go into that spiral of feeling that they don’t understand what it’s been like and just focusing on this difficult interaction. Sometimes you think about it later and you stay up all night thinking what you would have said if you knew in the moment.
So, instead of going through all of that loop de loop, you can come out with some clarity of what you are going to do and what you are going to say. You are going to feel so much more confident in your own ability to advocate. Go over to allaboutaudiology.com/speakup. While you are there, you can grab the free hearing aid checklist. Thank you for being a listener of the podcast.
I wish you all a very joyous and happy end of 2019 and into 2020. It has been an incredible year of the All About Audiology podcast that I launched at the end of January. Here we are, almost a year later with over 7,000 total downloads. You guys are incredible and I’m really excited to continue to talk to you guys on Instagram and to learn more about you guys on Facebook and to work with some of you. I appreciate you and I wish you all the best in the new year.