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You Can Still Enjoy Music!

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Music is loved and appreciated worldwide for its ability to bring people together and soothe the soul. People who suffer from hearing loss, though, often mourn the loss of the ability to hear and appreciate music the way they did when their hearing was better. Until recently, the best that hearing aids could offer in the way of music enjoyment was a second setting that was based on (but a little different than) the wearer’s current hearing aid settings. This method was certainly better than nothing for the enjoyment of music, but still wasn’t up to par with what the wearer wished they could experience.

Now, for the first time ever, a hearing aid manufacturer has created a special circuit designed solely for the enjoyment of music. Starkey Hearing Technologies is proud to introduce this latest generation of technology — our Muse line of hearing instruments. Six years in development, Muse offers many new and exciting features for hearing impaired people. But its ability to recognize, process and duplicate music is what everyone is talking about.

Muse hearing aids let you enjoy music in two different ways

  1. Through an automatic music feature that recognizes and classifies a melody.
  2. Through a dedicated music memory that lets the wearer have total control over the way that music sounds to meet his/her own tastes.

Let’s take a look at both options in detail:

Automatic music feature

The automatic music feature is exactly what the name implies — it is the way that the hearing instrument automatically recognizes and categorizes sound based on the features of that sound. Specifically, the hearing instrument is searching for a melody to be present for at least four seconds and is looking for characteristics in the high pitches that are unique mostly to speech and to music. The wearer doesn’t have to change the settings of the hearing instrument in any way. Once the incoming sound is deemed to be “music,” the hearing aids adjust the response to give the wearer a fuller, richer enjoyment of music.

How automatic mode works: Pretend the wearer is walking through a shopping mall with his spouse. Music is playing throughout the mall. When the hearing instruments recognize the criteria for music (remember that the hearing aids are always analyzing sound for the wearer’s best hearing), they will automatically change the setting of the hearing aid to give the best hearing for music. Now let’s imagine that the spouse suddenly says “Honey, I’d like to go into this store.” When the hearing aids recognize her speech, they will automatically shift out of “music” mode and into “speech” mode to ensure the wearer doesn’t miss anything important. It’s as simple as that!

Dedicated music memory

The new, dedicated music memory is exclusive to Starkey Hearing Technologies! The dedicated music memory has its own processor for music. It is separate from the processor that is responsible for amplifying the other sounds of life. This is the first time a hearing aid has used two unique processors. To understand how this works, let’s take a look at the following schematic:

 

  1. Sound waves come into the hearing aid.
  2. A microphone detects sound.
  3. The microphone sends it to a computer chip that turns mechanical sound waves into electrical energy.
  4. Normally it would go to the one and only processor, which analyzes  and manipulates all sounds.
  5. But now, if you’re specifically listening to music, you can send sound through Muse’s new music-only processor.
    • Note – you need to manually “switch” between processors via the hearing aids themselves or a remote.
  6. After manipulating the sound, the processor sends it back through another converter.
  7. The digital-to-analog converter turns the electrical energy back into mechanical sound waves that the ear can detect.
  8. The converter sends the sound waves to the receiver (speaker).
  9. The receiver sends the sound to the ear canal and into the brain.

Muse is the first hearing aid to use two processors.

It is important to realize that, prior to the release of Muse, hearing aids only used the one processor. Its purpose was to give the wearer the best hearing for ALL sounds of life. There was no way to truly separate music from other sounds.

With the addition of the music processor, it is now possible for your hearing professional to “shape” the sound of music to your liking by giving them the ability to adjust the low pitches (bass), mid-pitches and high pitches (treble) of music. Because the music processor has only one job — the enhancement of music — it can focus its energy on that important task. The result is a cleaner, crisp, precise sound for the enjoyment of music.

Are you a music lover? With Muse, you still can be.

With the introduction of Muse and its automatic music feature, wearers can experience music like never before! Whether the wearer is a lover of classical music or simply enjoys being able to hear music in social settings, Starkey Hearing Technologies has music covered.

Contact us today to learn more about the Muse!


Social Life Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss

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We are naturally social creatures. Whether it’s a date with our loved one, a movie night out with friends, or grabbing some drinks during happy hour with coworkers, we thrive on social interaction. And our hearing plays a role in how we engage with others around us.

How hearing impacts our social tendencies

  • How well we can understand and keep up with our friends during conversations.
  • Our ability to fully follow the story in a newly released movie.
  • How secure we feel in large groups and noise.
  • Feeling like part of the group or feeling left out for missing a joke, or two or three
  • The energy we have by the end of the night.

 

All these things can be affected by hearing loss.

When you have hearing loss, you may start to miss important words or phrases. You may struggle to keep up with conversations in noise, or follow along with a film you’ve never seen. You may feel tired at the end of the night, simply from trying to listen, and as you miss something funny one time too many, you may start to feel like an outsider with even your closest friends.

A study by the American Academy of Audiology has shown that for adults age 50 and older, those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression and anxiety and less likely to participate in organized social activities when compared to those who treated their hearing loss with hearing aids. This is because untreated hearing loss can make social settings extremely difficult and tiring to navigate.

Hear better with hearing aids

Hearing aids have been shown to help alleviate a lot of the depression, anxiety and social isolation hearing loss can create. The same American Academy of Audiology study found that participants who used hearing aids reported significant improvements in their lives including their relationships at home and at work, their sense of independence, their self-confidence and their social life. Furthermore, the same users’ families reported even higher rates of improvement with their loved ones’ hearing aid use.

With so many benefits to be gained by treating hearing loss with hearing aids, why wait? Contact your local hearing professional today and learn more about the great benefits hearing aids can provide!

Live a happier life and come get a FREE hearing evaluation today! Contact South Suburban Hearing Health Center to set up an appointment.


The Difference Between “Normal” Hearing vs Hearing with Hearing Aids

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hearing-health_south-suburbs_hearing-aids-burr-ridge_hearing-aids-homer-glen_hearing-aids-60467_hearing-aids-60527_audiologist-homer-glen_audiologist-burr-ridgeOur ears are miraculous creations! They are formed early in our development process and are comprised of millions of cells working together to ensure sound awareness and speech understanding – even before we are born. Unfortunately, as we grow older, hearing loss often occurs. Hearing loss happens for several reasons. The simplest and most common explanation is that, from the time we are born, the nerve fibers that are responsible for hearing (and every other fiber in our body!) begin to deteriorate. By the time we reach our “Golden Years,” those fibers have degraded enough to cause hearing loss.

In most cases of age-related hearing loss, hearing aids are the only solution to the problem. In today’s age of advanced technology, one might think it would be easy to duplicate the precise function of the ear and hearing. Unfortunately, that is just not the case. While companies like Starkey Hearing Technologies continually get closer, it is currently impossible for any hearing technology company to precisely recreate what “normal” hearing sounds like. (I put “normal” in quotation marks because every person’s interpretation of normal hearing is different.)

Two dozen channels vs. 25,000

Put simply, hearing instruments are very similar to public address (P.A.) systems. They each consist of a microphone that picks up the sound, an “equalizer” that manipulates that sound, and a “speaker” that sends the sound to the inner ear. At current best, hearing aids can offer two dozen “channels” (imagine the sliders on the equalizer board) to help the hearing impaired capture the nuances and variances of sound.

In contrast, the human ear is an intricate system that uses all of its parts to deliver “normal” hearing. The outer ear (pinna) funnels sound into and through the ear canal to the middle ear. The shape of the ear canal gives a boost to high pitches for better speech understanding. The middle ear uses the mechanics of the tiny bones within to give additional amplification to the sound. The inner ear converts mechanical energy to electrical energy, using over 25,000 tiny hair cells to help one hear the nuances of sound (vs. the several dozen channels a hearing aid uses). Finally, the electrical energy travels through thousands of finely-tuned nerve fibers to the portion of the brain that is responsible for understanding sound. It’s easy to see why electronically duplicating this complex system is challenging, to say the least.

Watch the below video to understand how hearing works!

The next best thing to “normal” hearing

Although today’s hearing aids cannot precisely duplicate the function of the human ear, they can be of tremendous benefit to hearing impaired individuals. Digitization of sound and dedicated computer software allow hearing healthcare professionals to more precisely address hearing loss. No longer do hearing instruments easily squeal, and thanks to the automatic nature of technology, there is no need for manual volume controls. Today’s hearing aids adapt to their environment thousands of times per second to ensure the best hearing possible for their wearer.

And though they may not be able to restore your hearing back to “normal,” today’s hearing aids have gotten closer than ever. They can help restore normalcy to your quality of life by helping you clearly hear and interact with the people and activities that bring you joy.

Ready to try some hearing aids for yourself? Contact South Suburban Hearing Health Center to set up a FREE hearing consultation!


Did You Know?

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south-suburban-hearing-health-center_hearing-aids-60467_hearing-aids-60527_hearing-aids-homer-glen_hearing-aids-burr-ridge_made-for-iphonejpgDid you know that studies have established strong ties between diabetes and hearing loss? In 2008, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found hearing loss to be twice as common in adults with diabetes than with those without.

Some researchers suggest that diabetics are more prone to develop hearing loss due to poor circulation. Elevated blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and reduce blood flow to various areas of the body. That damage could occur in the delicate structures of the inner ear and result in hearing loss. [Read more about the specifics of diabetes as a risk factor of hearing loss here.]

What can you do to lower your risk of severe hearing loss?

  • Exercise regularly and eat a nutritious diet to keep blood glucose readings with recommended readings.
  • Avoid tobacco use, which can compound your risk for hearing loss.
  • Test your hearing annually to monitor changes.

Start living a healthier lifestyle today by contacting us for your FREE hearing consultation!

Sources:

Holiday Travel Tips For People Who Wear Hearing Aids

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The holidays are typically one of the busiest travel seasons as millions of people hop in planes, trains and automobiles to visit family and friends.

It can also be one of the more stressful times of the year. According to Prevention magazine, 90 percent of Americans report stressing over at least one aspect of the holidays — with traveling high on the list.

People who wear hearing aids can help alleviate some of the stress by remembering these five tips as they travel over the river and through the woods this holiday season.

  1. Bring extra batteries! Especially when traveling abroad! The batteries that you use for your hearing aids, while globally available, may not have the same guarantee of quality when traveling. A battery caddy or blister pack of batteries is a great way to travel with them, and Zinc Air batteries are permissible in your carry-on luggage!
  2. You can leave your hearing aids turned on while flying, even if they have wireless capabilities. All domestic airlines allow the in-flight use of hearing aids. If you have any questions, make sure you contact your airline ahead of time!
  3. If you’re visiting someplace tropical, (a) you’re lucky, but (b) don’t forget to bring your dry aid kit! A dry aid kit is a small jar that has a desiccant in it to pull out all of the moisture! If you don’t have one, ask your hearing healthcare professional. Moisture in hearing aids can cause dirt and debris to build up on microphones and other parts and make cleaning difficult.
  4. Speaking of cleaning, don’t forget your cleaning tools! Just like at home, you’ll want to properly maintain your hearing aids while on vacation or traveling away from home! Many people are more active on trips than when at home and tend to need extra TLC when traveling!
  5. You can keep your hearing aids on as you pass through security! The electronic components of a typical hearing aid are so small that they don’t frequently get picked up by a metal detector. Just make sure that if you go through a body scanner you let the TSA agent know! They may ask you to take them out if they are detected!

Have a safe and happy holiday! Contact South Suburban Hearing Health Center if you need to pick up any batteries or get any last minute adjustments.


American Hearing for an American Hero

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Starkey is the the only American owned and operated hearing aid company, therefore we are proud to share this better hearing story about an honored veteran!

He had no access to newspapers or televisions. There was just rolling farmland and an uncle with a radio. He didn’t know anything about Pearl Harbor. “All we knew was our country was threatened by people,” Hershel “Woody” Williams said. “I went in to protect my country and my freedom.”

The last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from Iwo Jima, Williams, 93, joined the Marie Corps in late 1943. As a young man Hershel had worked the family’s farm and, at 16, he operated a jackhammer for a time drilling holes in pits for dynamite while participating in the Civilian Conservation Corps. As a Marine,Williams’ industrial experience landed him in a flamethrower/demolition unit where he handled a flamethrower, a weapon that would later help him and his company in the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Heroism in Action

“During World War II, when you went overseas, you didn’t go home.” Williams said of his time in the war. “I went over in December of 1943 and came home in September 1945.” Williams was active in the Pacific Theater, fighting in the Battle of Guadalcanal in Guam and then in February 1945, on the beaches of Iwo Jima. His unit was unable to advance very far, as Iwo Jima lacked cover and the ground’s conditions made it impossible to dig foxholes. His actions on February 23, 1945, however, would earn him more than the gratitude of his fellow soldiers.

“Iwo Jima had rock but not core, and we couldn’t dig holes,” he said. “We didn’t have bulldozers or jackhammers, so they gave me the job of blowing out these holes.” Due to the long, arduous process of creating small holes with sharp pieces of iron and inserting dynamite sticks directly inside, the company did not advance very far until February 23 when Williams looked up to see that the American flag had been raised on Mount Suribachi. Inspired, he and his men surged forward across enemy lines and helped to create an opening for the Marines to advance.

For his heroism, Williams was awarded the Medal of Honor on October 5, 1945. He continued to serve in the Marine Corps Reserves after the war and worked as a Veteran Services Officer at the Veterans Administration until 1978. He remains active in his church and the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

In an article by the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, Williams shared his views on his Medal of Honor: “This medal really does not belong to me — I could not have received it without the assistance of other Marines. So when I wear this medal, I don’t wear it for what I did. I wear it in honor of two Marines — I don’t know their names — who gave their lives protecting mine. It really belongs to them. I’m just a caretaker of it.”

An Inspiring Figure for Others Needs Better Hearing

Today, Williams continues to act as a “caretaker” and runs the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation with his family. Established by Williams in 2012, the nonprofit establishes permanent monuments in communities throughout the country to honor Gold Star Families who have lost a loved one in service to their country. He also spends a lot of his time traveling, speaking at many engagements around the country on behalf of his foundation and to help raise awareness of the sacrifices that are made for freedom.

But about 10 years ago, his family began to notice that he was struggling with his hearing, something he needed with speaking engagements almost every week. “I noticed his hearing loss about 10 years ago, but the last five years have really been very frustrating for him and others like myself who are around him often,” Williams’ grandson Brent Casey said. “I could see him struggle with hearing others speak, watching TV, going to the movies, or listening to music or entertainment products at a venue. The most frustrating thing for me was that he would often answer a question without ever knowing really what the question was. I would joke with him that someone is going to say something and he’s going to give the wrong answer. This actually happened numerous times over the past few years.”

Williams said he didn’t really notice his hearing loss happen but conceded that he did struggle to hear high-pitched voices. While the actual cause of his hearing loss is not clear, it is most likely a combination of exposure to the damaging sounds he experienced as a youth working jackhammers, his time in WWII with his flamethrower/demolition unit and aging.

With his family’s support, Williams tried hearing aids a few years ago, but struggled with them. “I had tried several types of hearing aids but none of them eliminated the loud noise I had when I talked or moved my jaw, which made having conversation very difficult,” Williams said. His daughter, Tracie Ross, noted Williams was still having to use coping methods. “Dad would ask for people to repeat at times, but many times, he didn’t even know he had missed information. It was discouraging to see him still struggle after he got his first set of hearing aids.”

In September 2016, Williams tried yet another pair — this time a set of Halo 2 Made for iPhone hearing aids. Unlike his previous pairs which were In-The-Canal (ITC) devices, his new Halo 2 hearing aids are Receiver-In- Canal (RIC) devices and sit discreetly behind his ears. “The noise I had previously when I worked my jaw has completely disappeared,” he said after we caught up with him earlier this month. “The Starkey hearing aids are far more advanced. Being able to adjust the volume and set them to the control the noise in public places is unbelievable. They fit so well, I sometimes forget I have them in my ears. I love my hearing aids.”

Williams’ family has also noticed the night-and-day improvements. “In the short time he has had the Starkey hearing aids, I have noticed a drastic difference in his ability to hear, carry on conversations as well as be comfortable in general,” his other grandson, Chad Graham, said. “I mean it when I say that at 93 years young, he hears better than I do at 36.”

“Many, many prayers and hopes have been answered with these new hearing aids,” Brent said. “Woody has been to countless doctor appointments and tried several sets of hearing aids and now finally has the freedom that he deserves; to be able to hear and understand people as well as be able to eat and carry on a conversation at the same time, which is something that he has not been able to do for at least four or five years.”

If you’d like to learn more about Williams, please visit his Congressional Medal of Honor Society page.

Contact South Suburban Hearing Health Centers for more information.


How to Enjoy Dining Out Again With Hearing Aids

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south-suburban-hearing-health_hearing-aids-burr-ridge_hearing-aids-homer-glen_hearing-aids-south-suburbs_homer-glen-audiologist_hearing-loss_made-for-iphone-hearing-aidsThere is nothing scarier for those of us with hearing aids than going to a new restaurant, especially during the busy holiday season with lots of holiday parties and friendly outings. Will it be loud? Will it be crowded? Will I be able to understand people, or will the background music drown out everything but the clanging of dishes from the kitchen?

We ask ourselves if it’s even worth it. Sometimes, we even look for excuses not to go, because who enjoys dinner with friends when you can’t hear your friends? Part of the dining-out experience is to catch up with friends and family, share updates about your work and social life, and to plan for the next time you’ll see each other.

Fortunately, with Halo or Halo 2 hearing aids, I got my dinner “dish” sessions back! Here are three things to try if you have Halo or Halo 2 hearing aids:

  1. Use the “Restaurant” memory: In most cases, the “Restaurant” memory will help you enjoy eating out again. It’s specifically programmed to deal with noisy, busy restaurant environments and will help focus the hearing aid microphones on speech versus everything else. This is my go-to memory when I hit up CRAVE for pizza on a Friday night.
  2. Make a new memory: You have the ability to create personalized, custom, geotagged memories — use it! If you have three different restaurants you frequent with friends but each has its own environment, then make a new memory for each place. The best way to do it is use SoundSpace to adjust the bass/treble and loudness/softness of the sound. Then, when you save the memory, make sure you use the restaurant’s name as the memory name and also geotag the exact location. By doing so, you never have to manually set it up again.
  3. Ask for a booth: I have this abhorrence for restaurants without booths or plushy bar stools. If I’m escorted to a table in the middle of the restaurant, I look at the table once and then give the maître d’ a nervous stare until he suggests a different option. While my hearing aids still work well at a table in the middle of a restaurant, it’s much easier for me to enjoy dinner and understand my friends talking when I have a booth that helps block out other diners’ conversations.

South Suburban Hearing Health Center takes hearing aids seriously! It’s what we do. You can visit us at our Burr Ridge, Il or Homer Glen, Il location to get a FREE hearing consultation today. We would love to set you up with an appointment to help you hear better! Contact us as soon as you can.


Untreated Hearing Loss Can Impact Your Income

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Several years ago, the non-profit Better Hearing Institute published a report titled “The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income.” The report analyzed data retrieved from a survey of 40,000 households consisting of a mixture of “heads of households” with hearing loss who wore hearing aids, with hearing loss who didn’t wear hearing aids, and ones without hearing loss.

The purpose of the report was to “quantify the relationship between treated and untreated hearing loss and income.”

Based on the survey and data results, the report concluded that letting hearing loss go untreated has significant income ramifications, specifically:

  • “Hearing loss was shown to negatively impact household income on-average up to $12,000 per year depending on the degree of hear­ing loss
  • The use of hearing instruments was shown to mitigate the [income] effects of hearing loss by 50%
  • The estimated cost in lost earnings due to untreated hearing loss is $122 billion”

 
The report linked the income disparity to several factors, including hurdles with effective communication, underemployment, and physical and mental health issues that may affect job performance.

Why add an unnecessary obstacle to your quality of life? Take a proactive approach to any hearing loss by scheduling a free consultation with South Suburban Hearing Health Center as soon as possible! We are here to help guide you to better hearing.


Learning a Foreign Language When You Have Hearing Loss

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Trevor Turner is a International Program Officer with Starkey Hearing Foundation and has worn hearing aids for 26 years. He has traveled the world and speaks a variety of languages.

As a hearing aid wearer for 26 years, I’ve had to learn a lot of different ways to adapt to everyday things in order to cope with my hearing loss.

Hearing aid technology (and technology in general) is getting exponentially better, which means the options for solving everyday hearing problems are becoming many and diverse.

I work for Starkey Hearing Foundation, which means I travel around the world and meet people who speak many different languages. Traveling is a passion of mine and learning new languages and cultures is what I enjoy the most.

Unfortunately, with a hearing loss, learning spoken English — let alone a foreign language — has always been a challenge. It took me 10 years of speech therapy to get to the level of English that I can speak now, and with my busy lifestyle, I don’t have 10 years to devote to a new language.

A passion for different cultures is the first thing you need

Fortunately, there are great language learning strategies that are especially helpful for those who have a hearing loss. After a summer studying abroad in Marburg, Germany, I became determined to learn the language of my Vorfahren (ancestors) and went back to the University of Missouri where I declared German as one of my majors. I became fluent in only two years. So the most important thing for learning a foreign language is to have a passion for the language and the cultures that speak it.

Next, it is important to remember that languages are not like mathematical equations, with strict rules and one correct answer. They are living, evolving reflections of the peoples, cultures and history, which means you must immerse yourself in language, not just memorize flashcards. This means reading literature, watching TV shows, listening to music and enjoying movies in the language.

How I learned to speak multiple languages faster

Now, with hearing a loss, it can be hard to watch movies or listen to music, or even just listen to speech in a foreign language. Particularly with native speakers, conversations can seem like a quick blur, gibberish that cannot be discerned.

To help slow down a foreign language and make listening to a foreign language more comprehensible, try these easy language learning tips for hearing aid wearers:

  1. Take advantage of subtitles and closed caption services of foreign films and TV shows. Now it is important to remember that, in order to learn the language, you should immerse yourself, so do not use English subtitles. Rather, set the audio and subtitles to the same language. For example, on Netflix, for many shows (even native English shows like Orange is the New Black), you can change the audio and the subtitles to Spanish. Now you are hearing and reading Spanish at the same time. Reading it while hearing it helps train your brain to listen to the sounds better and makes the speech easier to understand!
  2. Use your Made for iPhone® hearing aids! While we are talking about Netflix, download the iPhone app and stream the show’s audio directly into your ears!  This will make the voices in the show sound as lifelike as possible, which is important for learning a new language. You will hear all the sounds and nuances of the new languages, which will help with comprehension and also improve your accent!
  3. Use your Made for iPhone hearing aids to stream foreign music! The sound quality will help you hear the voices better, and music in a foreign language helps you learn new words much faster than flashcards.
  4. Download lyrics to foreign language songs and read them as you are listening to the song. The repetition and visual of the lyrics reinforces the new words in your brain. Also seeing the words helps you understand them better, especially when you have a hearing loss.
  5. Memorize and recite poetry! Get a book of classical poetry to memorize and recite. Record yourself and listen to it (also a great use of your Made for iPhone hearing aids). The alliteration makes memorizing and learning new words easier, and reciting and listening to your own voice will help you improve your accent! It also makes a great party trick to impress your friends!
  6. Take advantage of language learning apps on your iPhone. There are great apps that use both audio and visual lessons/games to help you learn a new language. Duolingo and Mindsnacks are my favorite apps and work great with the Made for iPhone hearing aids. If you have some time to kill, open up Duolingo and complete a lesson or play a fun game on Mindsnacks.

Language learning is fun and with new Starkey technology, people with hearing aids have many new ways to enjoy a new language!


Can Treating Hearing Loss Help with Depression?

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If you could do something easy now to avoid something potentially problematic down the road, wouldn’t you do it? It’s the same theory behind exercise, eating vegetables and, well, insurance.

Treating hearing loss is one of those easy things. It’s like a potential insurance policy against a host of problematic aging issues, including anxiety, depression, social isolation, and even dementia.

A study by The National Council on Aging shines some light on the benefits of treating hearing loss. They surveyed 2,300 hearing impaired adults, 50 and older, some who have treated their hearing loss with hearing aids, and some who haven’t.

The hearing fact above highlights some of what people without hearing aids said. Starkey’s August 26 blog describes the good things people who wear hearing aids said.

If you’ve got hearing loss (if you’re not sure, contact us to set up a hearing evaluation), wouldn’t you rather treat it now, and hopefully avoid bigger issues later on?