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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Ross Cushing, AuD
Enjoy the Sounds of Life
A&A Maryland Hearing Center

Enjoy the Sounds of Life

With a growing trend of baby boomers helping their parents remain independent, living in their family home, and boomers thinking of modifications that will enable them to “age in place” themselves, many contractors and consumers forget to think about hearing.
Yet, nearly 80 percent of individuals over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss. Ask yourself if you or a loved one is having trouble hearing on the phone, using a cell phone, hearing the television at normal volume levels, or hearing the door bell? If so, assistive listening devices may be a good, relatively low-cost solution to increase the quality of life.
The devices are divided into two categories alerting devices and amplification devices. Alarm or alerting devices make life safer for those with hearing loss. These devices warn, signal and alert. They include wake-up alarms, smoke detectors, door bell detectors, telephone ring detectors, and other sound detectors.
The way these devices work is simple they vibrate, flash a light, and/or provide a louder signal in a frequency range that can be more easily heard whenever the traditional phone or detector rings at its normal level. These devices are not expensive, but can make a big improvement in the quality of life for someone with hearing loss.
Other devices amplify. The most popular are television amplifiers and phone amplifiers, with the device fitting right on the TV or phone itself to provide a boost to the volume.
Other amplification devices, which make the sounds only louder for the individual wearing hearing aids are basically designed to bring the listener closer to the source of the desired sound. They reduce undesirable background noise and provide greater clarity for speech. There are four main categories of these devices loop, FM, infrared and hardwired.
A loop system is a loop of wire around a room or seating area. The loop is connected to an amplifier that receives signals from the sound source. This system can be used for groups, small or large. There are large systems in some churches, theatres and meeting rooms. Small portable systems are available for home use.
An FM system and infrared system consist of a small transmitter and microphone. The microphone is placed near the sound source and the signal is sent to the receiver, which the person wears. The FM system uses radio waves, and the infrared system uses light waves.
Another option that is growing in popularity in peoples homes is the use of a hard-wire system. This system is similar to the others except that the person is directly “wired” to the microphone or transmitter. It is designed for small areas at home.
Given the many options available for assisting with hearing loss, a doctor of audiology should be consulted to discuss the best choice for a particular person. He or she will consider the listening demands and desires of the person with the hearing loss, in combination with a diagnosis of the persons degree and type of hearing loss. Then, recommendations can be made that will make life more comfortable and safer for you or your loved one.

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