It’s Summertime, and the Livin’ is Noisy……

In general, summer is easier on the ears than winter, because many of us spend time outdoors and enjoying leisure activities that tend to be quieter than some winter pursuits.

Couple wearing ear protection at NASCAR raceBut don’t be lulled into thinking your hearing is safe. Click here to read about five of the most damaging sources of summer noise exposure, and find out how to protect yourself. Check out this “noise thermometer” for some surprising decibel levels.

If you’re into stock car racing, pictured at right, you can also find out how to get your own Nascar brand earmuffs.

Photo: Onfokus/iStock

Four Show-Stopping Ways to Hear Better at the Theater.

Do you love the theater but rarely go because you can’t understand the dialogue or lyrics?

iStock_000002637313MediumFortunately there are several solutions to this problem beyond the familiar infrared headphones that many theaters offer. And those with hearing loss can even get discount tickets to many shows. First, about infrared. Theaters that seat more than 50 people are required, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to provide hearing assistance. Most offer infrared systems, with many options to chose from. Some offer captioning, either on hand held devices or on a screen.

Read more here to find out how you can more fully enjoy your theater experience.

 

IStock:Byfotos

Musicians Do It. Why You Should Too.

Musicians wear earplugs that allow them to hear the music without wrecking their hearing. No reason you shouldn’t do the same.

An interviewer asked me the other day what I was doing for Better Hearing Month (May). Every month is Better Hearing Month for me, I said. Still, when it comes to hearing health, we can’t talk too much about prevention.

Most hearing loss is caused by noise, with age either equal or a close second. If your ears are ringing after a concert or football game, they may seem to recover but that ringing is an indication that you may have suffered permanent damage. It won’t show up on a hearing test, but …

To read the full article and learn how that seemingly temporary loss may lead to permanent damage, click here.

Click here to read about more ways to prevent hearing loss.

Role Reversal: My Aging Mother Could Hear But I Couldn’t

As my mother got older, our roles reversed, as they will when a parent reaches the ninth and even 10th decade. But there was one way in which she grew stronger, while I grew weaker. She could hear, and I couldn’t.Mom and me 2013 In her 80s, my mother’s mind and body succumbed to aging. She developed dementia, she had frequent falls and was often wheelchair bound. But she never lost her hearing.

Still, the loss of my hearing created an enormous gulf. As I think of my mother this mother’s day, I also think of all that I missed.

Most people’s hearing problems are not as severe as mine. But if you’re having trouble hearing an elderly parent with a whispery voice — or if the parent is having trouble hearing you — don’t let that happen. If you or the parent is not ready for hearing aids, buy yourself a handheld device such as a pocket talker. But whatever solution you come up with, don’t let those words be lost forever.

To read the full post, go to http://blog.aarp.org/author/aarpkbouton/.

A Flawed Superhero Can be a Powerful Role Model

What makes Daredevil so appealing?

Netflix debuted its original series “Daredevil” this month, starring Charlie Cox as the blind superhero created by Marvel comics back in 1964. Daredevil, aka lawyer Matt Murdock, grew up with his single dad, a mid-level boxer, in Hell’s Kitchen. An accident involving radioactive waste left him blind as a boy. (Luckily, he was not otherwise disfigured, since Cox is a heart throb.) His father insisted his son get a good education, which would serve him well in the daytime world. By night, his blindness would become an asset in the crime-ridden Hell’s Kitchen of the series’ present, dominated by evil real estate developers

Murdock is blind but his accident enhanced his other senses. Matt Murdock’s powers are increased by the effect of the radioactive poisons, but this is not just superhero lore: it’s well known that if one of the sensory pathways in the brain is not being used (thanks to blindness, hearing loss, a loss of taste, smell, touch) those pathways will be take over by the other senses. Helen Keller could recognize familiar people coming into a room by the vibration of their footsteps.

In his daytime persona as attorney Matt Murdock, as well as in his secret nighttime Daredevil persona, hearing, smell, and touch are all powerful tools for fighting crime. Murdoch can detect a lie by hearing the increase in a subject’s heartbeat. He can smell the cheap cologne on a bad guy pretending to be a cop when the intruder is still three flights away on the tenement stairs, with a closed door between them. The buzz of a fluorescent light tells him he’s not hidden by darkness. He picks out the sound of a chain clanging on a fire escape just to time to use it as a last-ditch defense. Standing on a rooftop, he listens to the noises of the city below until gradually one sound emerges, a kidnapped boy’s cry of “Daddy, Daddy, help me!”

But this strength is also his most vulnerable point, and this makes him interesting. Daredevil is human, and subject to human weaknesses. He’s a devout Catholic, with a strong sense of guilt about his nighttime vigilante activities, for which he asks forgiveness from his priest. He’s a complex, flawed character.

Daredevil was not the first Marvel character with a disability. Charles Xavier, leader of X-Men, is paralyzed and uses a wheelchair. Each of the X-Men has a disability, “perceived or actual, mental, physical, or behavioral,” wrote Michael M. Chemers, Center for Arts in Society, Carnegie Mellon University in an essay in Disability Studies Quarterly in 2004. The X-Men, he wrote “confound the hyper-ableism that many superheroes of that era promoted.”

As for deafness, Hawkeye from the Avengers series becomes deaf. Recently, the Marvel illustrator began incorporating sign language into his panels. Marvel also created Blue Ear, who has hearing devices, in response to a mother’s request for a superhero her deaf son could relate to.

Last October Marvel teamed up with the Children’s Hearing Institute in New York to create a superhero with hearing loss, Sapheara, who has cochlear implants. The superhero and the partnership was the idea of Dr. Ronald Hoffman, director of the Ear Institute at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. The idea is for children with hearing loss to have a superhero they can identify with, as well as to use the Sapheara comic to educate children about hearing loss and to create tolerance for hearing loss.

Sapheara and the Blue Ear teamed up with Iron Man in a special one-shot comic, which is given out to children at the Ear Institute. The Institute’s hallways are decorated with images of Ironman and Sapheara.

Positive images of disability are important to all of us, but especially to children whose “differentness” can be psychologically as well as physically disabling.

Part of growing up is realizing that everyone has disabilities of one kind or another–some physical, some  psychological, some obvious, some covert. It’s here–in the example of these differently abled and often differently disabled superheroes– that teaching children about the acceptance of ‘differentness’ of every kind will lead not only to tolerance of and patience with each other about what they can’t do but admiration for what they can do.

This post first appeared on Psychology Today What I Hear, April 23, 2015.

Can’t Hear in a Restaurant? Ignore it now, pay for it later.

If you’re finding it hard to hear what your companions are saying in a restaurant or at a party, it’s time to get your hearing checked.

The inability to hear speech in a noisy environment is one of the first signs of hearing loss, and although it may bother you only in certain situations, it’s not something to ignore. Hearing loss should not be dismissed as a natural sign of aging any more than high blood pressure or cholesterol would be.

On the contrary, it is at this early stage when you most need hearing aids. Read More

For practical tips about dining out, read Chapter 16, Dining Out, in my new book: Living Better With Hearing Loss: A Guide to Health, Happiness, Love, Sex, Work, Friends… and Hearing Aids.”  Pre-order here for June publication. 

Hearing Aids as Fashion Accessory

When I got my first pair of glasses at age 6, they were big, clunky things that covered a third of my face and were heavy in the bargain. As soon as I was old enough, I traded them in for contact lenses.

Nowadays, eyeglasses are not just stylish, they’re downright chic. Sophia Loren started the trend with a fabulous array of specs. Meryl Streep, who is 65, often wears glasses, but so do younger stars like Alicia Keys, 34, Jennifer Aniston, 46, and Anne Hathaway, 32. When Sarah Palin appeared on the scene as John McCain’s running mate, there was more talk about her spectacular rimless glasses than there was about her political positions — at least at first.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is a “Hearing Loss Celebrity Ambassador”And now hearing aids are finally getting some attention. One of the major online hearing aid retailers, Audicus.com, has partnered with Advanced Style to offer stylish new hearing aids for women in a variety of designs, including sparkles, polka dots and leopard prints, which are interchangeable with adhesive stickers. In the Advanced Style video they look like little jewels in the box.

Cochlear implants are already offered in an array of designs. …

Read more of this post about hearing aid style and cochlear implants, and why the beautiful Maggie Gyllenhaal is the illustration, at AARP: Healthy Hearing….