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February 06, 1986 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-02-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Seniors' Health Focus
Listen Up!
Don't Deprive Yourself of Better Hearing

. ___.

If it seems someone you're
talking with is mumbling, that
may very well be the case. Or it
could be that you-the listener-
have some form of hearing
"Someone who has diffi-
culty hearing high-frequency
sounds can hear vowels clear-
ly but not the consonants in
words," explains Audiologist
Susan Dedo. "The person hears
but doesn't understand and in-
terprets it as mumbling on the
part of the speaker."
The process of hearing loss
in seniors is often very gradual.
In fact, it can be so slow that the
hearing impaired person may not
even be aware of it until long
after others have begun to sus-
pect the problem.
The problem, however, is
not uncommon. In fact, about
one-half of all Americans with
hearing impairment, or 7 million
people, are age 65 or older. The
primary cause, says Dedo, has
basically to do with the process
of aging.
Audiology Services at
Catherine McAuley Health Center
works in conjunction with the
Office of Health Promotion to
provide free educational pro-
grams for seniors about hearing
loss and ways it can be managed.
In addition, screenings are con-
ducted at many community sites
and senior centers to test peo-
ples' hearing. "You don't have to
deprive yourself of better hear-
ing, especially considering the
recent technological advances
with hearing aids and other as-
sistive devices," notes Dedo.

With recent advances in technology, the hearing impairedperson has
access to many assistive devices, including thosefor stereos, televisions
and telephones. At St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, the Emergency Department
provides emergency assistance with a telecommunication devicefor the
deaf called a TDD. Those with a compatible telephone device can call the
Emergency Department to send and receive typewritten messages. TDD
Operator Susan Brown says she can also arrangefor a sign language
interpreter to be on hand when the patient arrives at the hospital.

How Hearing is
If you suspect a possible
hearing loss or have had family
members mention it, the first
step is to see your personal physi-
cian or one who specializes in
diseases of the ear and related
structures, known as an
otorhinolaryngologist. The
physician will conduct an ear ex-
amination. If necessary, a group
of standard hearing tests are or-
dered and are then conducted by
the audiologist, who is a hear-
ing health care professional certi-
fied by the the American Speech,
Hearing and Language Associa-
tion (ASHLA).
During hearing tests, a per-
son sits in a small soundproof
room facing the audiologist
through a window. The audiol-
ogist tests the person's detection

of sounds at different levels of
loudness, creating a graph called
an audiogram. The audiologist
also measures the ability to dis-
criminate speech by having the
person repeat one-syllable words.
This is known as speech testing.
The audiologist aids the physi-
cian in evaluating the type and
severity of the hearing loss. In
some instances, a hearing impair-
ment is due to treatable medical
problems, such as a hole in the
eardrum, earwax, fluid behind
the eardrum or a tumor. If the
hearing loss cannot be improved
with medical treatment, many
can benefit from using a hearing
Mniature Public Address
The audiologist can deter-
mine if using a hearing aid will

help communication and, if so,
select an appropriate aid. 'A hear-
ing aid is a miniature public ad-
dress system," notes Dedo. "It
has a microphone and an ampli-
fier. The ear piece is the speaker
that sends amplified sound into
the ear."
Jody Spalding, audiologist,
says there are literally hundreds
of different hearing aids. "We
can recommend an aid most ap-
propriate for a person's degree
of hearing loss, ability to under-
stand and sensitivity to loudness."
Spalding adds that present
day aids are a far cry from those
used years ago. "Each year the
(hearing aid) industry improves
the quality and sound fidelity of
hearing aids."
Wh1at to Expect
Spalding cautions, however,
that people should have realistic
expectations for their hearing
aids: 'A hearing aid is an aid, a
help. It does not restore normal
hearing. Hearing should be bet-
ter (with an aid), but it still won't
be perfect." Spalding says that's
why Audiology Services at the
Health Center gives patients a
one-month trial period when
they purchase a hearing aid.
They have the opportunity to
decide whether the degree of
improvement in hearing is worth
the cost and psychological ad-
justment to wearing an aid.
Audiology Services, located
in the Reichert Health Building
on the Health Center's Huron
River Drive campus, offers com-
plete services for someone who
needs a hearing aid, including

hearing tests, hearing aid evalua-
tions, ordering the hearing aid,
and having it fitted and quality
checked prior to the end of
the trial period.
rc Sentaon§G a Avial
Audiology Services has
made several presentations to
senior groups on hearing loss
and has conducted hearing
screenings as part of the Health
Education for Seniors Program,
sponsored by the Office of
Health Promotion. If your group
is interested in a presentation,
please call the Office of Health
Promotion at 572-3675 and ask
for the brochure entitled "Health

Education for Seniors." You may
also check the Seniors Health
Education box and mail the at-
tached postage-paid reply card.
Audiology Services is spon-
soring a Communications Work-
shop for people with hearing
aids or those with hearing prob-
lems. "Participants will learn
listening strategies and how to
maximize the hearing they have,"
says Spalding. "They'll also learn
to cope with hearing that isn't as
good as it used to be. The work-
shop is for family members, too."
The series of three one-hour
meetings begins in February. For
more information, please call
Audiology Services at 572-3816.

p-- -

Many seniors have experienced
the isolation and frustration that
come from hearing loss. They
know what it's like to sit in com-
pany and miss the joke or the gist
of a conversation. With or without
a hearing aid, though, a person can
learn simple skills to enhance their
hearing. Speechreading (or lip-
reading) is one example. Below are
other hints for better listening.
1. Good light on the speaker
makes for better hearing.
2. Face-to-face interactions are
best. Try to face the speaker.
3. Sit close to the person you are
talking with.
4. Minimize background distrac-

tions. Turn off the radio or
5. Be in the same room as the per-
son you are talking with.
6. Hearing is better accomplished
in small groups rather than
large ones.
7. In large groups, stay on the out-
side edge rather than the center.
8. "Soft" rooms-those with rugs,
drapes and couches-are easier
to hear in, as well as restaurants
with table cloths.
9. In auditoriums or theaters, use
the assistive listening devices.
10. Most important of all: Tell peo-
ple you have difficulty hearing,
and then they can help, too.

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