New Year...focus on what matters most.

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With the beginning of a new year, many people set goals and think about what they want to accomplish.  However, by mid-January, many of those resolutions have already been broken.  

May I suggest that instead of hard to attain resolutions, you consider what matters most in your life.  For me, it is my family.  Some of you know that my father passed away in November of 2015.  I realized very quickly that things don't always work out the way you hope, and that time with loved ones is precious.  

What does this have to do with hearing?  Hearing is how we connect with our loved ones.  Hearing allows us to understand the nuances of language, not just the words, spoken, but the emotions behind them.  Our hearing and communicating with our loved ones is what keeps us connected as friends and family.  It is also the root of keeping our brains healthy.  In the final days with my dad, I had the privilege of calling him and recording his recollections and life story.  It is something that I will always treasure.  

Ask yourself how you can improve and enhance your relationships with loved ones in the coming year.  If hearing loss is becoming an issue, don't put it off.  Relationships can suffer when a loved one feels ignored or misunderstood.  If this is happening, and there is a reasonable solution...it's time to do something about it.  

 

 

Brain health and hearing health

granandpapa

 

We recently found out my grandmother is in the beginning stages of memory loss.  It has really brought to home the difficulties that ensue when our brain is just not as healthy as it should be.  I have been urging both she and my grandpa to be more consistent and vigilant in her use of her hearing aids.   

Hearing health and brain health are inextricably linked.  Several studies by Dr. Lim at Johns Hopkins, and the recent study released last November by Dr. Amieva (whom I was privileged to hear lecture last year) show definitive links between hearing loss and cognitive decline.  Dr. Amieva's research showed for the first time that consistent use of hearing aids slows that decline in those with hearing loss.  

I guess you could say I am on a crusade.  I want people to know that hearing loss and its associated cognitive decline can be avoided.  Hearing aids can keep you socially engaged, reduce anxiety and depression, and keep vital information pathways in your brain open and useful.  

Hearing health and brain health keep you active, healthy, and in a position to get the most out of life.  If you would like more information, call our office today.  I'd be happy to discuss any questions you might have, and show you how hearing technology, properly fit, can make a huge difference in your life.  

Summer is gone...

I sent my children back to school today, as many others have in our area the last couple of weeks.  I worry about them, and then I think about my patients who are also students.  I worry about them getting the support they need.  I worry that they are using their hearing technology appropriately.  

Every one of us uses our hearing to navigate this world, whether it is in the classroom or the boardroom.  We each depend on our hearing daily to keep us safe, to communicate with those around us, to stay informed about what is happening in our world.  

Hearing connects us in so many ways, and is more important than you might realize.  Here are my top five reasons to not delay hearing treatment:

5.    You have a reduced risk of developing depression.  

4.  You keep your brain healthier, reduce your risk for dementia.

3.  You are more likely to make more money.

2.  You won’t miss out on important conversations.  

1.  You appear smarter when you answer correctly.

NOW is the time to do something about your hearing.  Don't put it off, don't make excuses.  You will find that it makes all the difference in the world.  

Always learning!

Sorry to not have shared info in this little blog of mine for a while.  The clinic has been getting busier and busier, (which is great!), but doesn't leave as much time for writing.  

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Florida with the theme, "A Revolution for the Senses."  The conference featured wonderful speakers on how the human brain integrates sensory information, with a special focus on hearing.  Here are some of the highlights:

Don Schum on differing perceptions of loudness

Don Schum on differing perceptions of loudness

Dr. Don Schum spoke on the importance that all of our sensory information match.  When there is a mismatch, it can lead to depression and other psychological consequences.  He quoted the research by Donald Ramsdell, PhD that came out of the aftermath of WWII, and the affects that noise induced hearing loss had on veterans.  One important aspect I hadn't thought of before is the perception of loudness may vary more than previous studies suggested.  

Dr. Jeff Salz spoke on the purpose of life, with all it's difficulties and challenges.  I found his description of the "hero's journey" exceptionally appropriate for anyone dealing with a chronic health condition (which includes hearing loss.)  He shared some of his experiences among the gauchos of South America near Patagonia.  What he took from that experience were these teachings from one man in particular.  "There is no where to go, there is nothing to do, except to be of service."  

Dr. Helene Amieva on the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline

Dr. Helene Amieva on the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline

I was really fascinated by the work done by Dr. Helene Amieva from France.  She is a professor of psychogerantology, and has been studying the effects of cognitive decline.  Her study looked at the relationship between education, hearing, and cognitive decline, and the results were striking.  Two key components were cognitive reserve and using hearing aids.  Those who were educated, had good social networks and skills, had a vocation they enjoyed and stayed healthy were better able to combat the effects of dementia.  If there was concomitant hearing loss, the deterioration happened much more quickly.  However, if hearing aid were used, the decline followed the same progression as those with cognitive reserve.   

Anna Mette Mohr, quoting Kirgegaard

Anna Mette Mohr, quoting Kirgegaard

A focus of this conference was on tinnitus. Dr. Anna Mette Mohr of Copenhagen is a existential psychotherapist who deals exclusively with tinnitus clients.   She partners with other health professionals in Copenhagen's House of Hearing, and described some important ways to view my work as an audiologist.  She introduced the concept of partnering, which rather than focus on fixing, there is a focus on working together to manage a difficult problem.  She discussed the four areas where tinnitus can affect a person:  physical, social, psychological, and spiritual.

Julian Treasure, of The Sound Agency, talked about the importance sound plays in every moment of our lives.  I hadn't thought about it before, but our vision uses only one octave of visible light, our hearing uses 10 octaves.  He gave many examples where the ambient noise in our lives is literally killing us.  He also talked about the difference between passively hearing and actively listening.  

I was very grateful to be able to attend this conference and learn from some great professionals.  I am always seeking ways to learn and improve so that I can better serve our community.