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….

Me and My Smartphone: A Love-Hate Relationship

Woman on her smartphoneFirst the savior aspect: I have at least two and sometimes three ways to communicate using text. The first is email. The second is texting. And the third, when it works, is captioning for telephone calls.

I can also pay for my coffee, go to my gym, download an airplane or theater ticket, take a picture. I can figure out what a 25 percent tip comes to. I can see in an instant what the weather is in Moscow or Kathmandu. I can go on the Internet, I can find out when the subway or bus is coming, I can tweet, Facebook, Instagram and check my stocks. I can read books and magazines, do brain acuity exercises, and I can even measure the decibels in an environment I suspect is too loud.

The one thing I can’t do on my phone is talk on it. Yes: The original and by now venerable function of a cellphone as a way for one person to communicate orally with another when not using a landline is the one place where the phone fails me. Read more…..


Photo: PeopleImages/iStock

Police Officers With Disabilities. Why ADA Protection Makes Us All Safer.

When public safety and the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act come into conflict, public safety prevails. But that doesn’t mean the ADA should be tossed aside.

In fact, compliance with the ADA gives us a more effective police force.

Which would you rather have when you needed protection: police officers with hearing loss who won’t report it because they’ll lose their job if they do?  Or police officers who have passed the stringent official hearing tests wearing their hearing aids.

Read more here to find out how giving police officers with disabilities their rights benefits us all.

Surprising Bonus of Cochlear Implants in Elderly

New research finds that cochlear implants in older people not only help with hearing loss but may also improve thinking, mood and — most significantly — memory.

Dementia word cloud

In a study published March 12, French researcher Isabelle Mosnier, of Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris examined the effect of cochlear implants on elderly patients, ages 65 to 85, with profound hearing loss.

Previous research has found older people with severe to profound hearing loss are at greater risk for cognitive decline and dementia than those with normal hearing. The more severe the loss, the greater the risk. Researchers don’t know why this is, or whether one causes the other.

So far no large-scale research has determined whether using hearing aids offsets the risk, but a recent French study, using cochlear implants, found marked improvements in three areas: speech perception, quality of life (depression) and cognitive performance.

To read more about the study and possible explanations for these promising findings, go to the full article:

Cochlear Implants Shown to Reverse Cognitive Decline 

Good Friends Make for Better Health

Friendships and social connections are a key factor in living a longer, healthy life. This was demonstrated in“The Longevity Project,’’ a book-length report on an 80-year study of 1,528 individuals that began with Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman in 1921 and was completed by the psychology professors Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin.

In a 2011 interview, I asked Friedman and Martin what the single strongest social predictor of long life was. Their unhesitating answer: a strong social network.

People with hearing loss sometimes have to make themselves keep up those social connections. If you know you’re not going to be able to hear at a lecture, a party or a restaurant, the tendency is to stay home. This is true also of places of worship. It’s one reason why assistive listening devices and hearing loops are so important.

Lectures, classes and worship services are places where many of us go for social, intellectual and spiritual stimulation. They are where we meet new people and hear new ideas. If a venue like a lecture hall or place of worship is looped, it becomes accessible to those with hearing loss simply by a flip of the T-coil switch on their hearing aid….

Read more here to find out about some studies on the negative effects of social isolation and depression on cognitive health. And read more to find ways to keep those old friends and find new ones.

Your Gym May Be Bad for Your Hearing

But that’s not a reason to quit. Some suggestions for keeping your whole body — including your ears — healthy.

What’s good for your body is not necessarily good for your ears. Loud music is an integral part of many workout activities — spin classes are a prime example. A recent article in the New York Times found that the noise levels in a spin class at Crunch averaged 100 decibels over 40 minutes, and hit 105 decibels in its loudest five minutes. A staffer for the Hearing Health Foundation found that the decibel level at her gym hit 115 decibels.

Click here to read more.

Are We Treating Depression When We Should Be Treating Hearing Loss?

Could we be prescribing antidepressants to those who really need a hearing test? A large-scale study published last April,based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2010 found a significant correlation between hearing loss and depression, confirming some smaller studies and also anecdotal evidence. What was most interesting was that the link was found only in certain populations. There was no relatioTwo older women having lemonadenshipbetween hearing loss and depression in people who were either culturally deaf or functionally deaf. There was no relationship in adults 70 and older who self-reported hearing loss. In other words, those who accepted their hearing loss did not experience greater levels of depression. So who did? Read more……. Photo: Kali9/iStock Postscript: On Monday, the Federal Government Accountability Office released findings showing widespread use of psychiatric drugs by older Americans with dementia. The drugs included the “inappropriate” use of Abilify, Risperdal, Zyprexa and clozapine.  Abilify, an antipsychotic intended for treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as major depressive disorder in connection with other drugs, is the number 1 seller among all prescription drugs — not just antidepressants – in this country. Sales between April 2013 and March 2014 ($6.9 billion) amounted to more than all other antidepressants combined. That’s a lot of schizophrenic, bipolar and majorly depressed people. Clearly Abilify is being prescribed for more routine depression as well. Many dementias are clearly diagnosable, but some are not. Sometimes these turn out to be hearing loss or misplaced hearing aids. Are we treating these people with antipsychotics? Sounds more like a mental ward than an assisted living facility.