What is Hearing Loss? Oh, and What can be Done About It?

“I can hear, but I can’t understand.” “I’m wearing my hearing aids, but I am still having trouble in a restaurant.”  Do these statements sound familiar to you? Read Full Article

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New Award Given to ACA Employees – “YOU ROCK”!

ACA created a new award this year for an ACA staff member(s) that is presented during each of our monthly office meetings.  The recipient of this special award is chosen as a living example of our ACA mission statement of exemplifying our leadership role through commitment, dedication, innovation and excellence of the highest quality. Let’s congratulate all recipients on our “YOU ROCK” award!

March recipient: Lori McCorry, Au.D., Audiologist

April recipient: Maureen Connon, Support staff

May recipient: Katherine Pollard, Au.D., Audiologist

June recipient: The Griffin office staff: Sheila Pack, Au.D., Audiologist, Tammi St. Claire, Support staff and Miya Wright, Audiology Assistant

 

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INSURANCE, FINANCING, WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

Are you or a loved one in the market for hearing aids?  If so, you’re not alone.  There are over 36 million Americans suffering from hearing loss. In fact, hearing loss ranks third behind heart disease and arthritis as the most common disorder among those over 65.  With more people needing hearing aids consumers are becoming increasingly aware that routine hearing services and hearing aids are rarely covered by Medicare or private medical insurance companies.  There are however, certain supplemental plans or assistance programs that individuals can use to assist them with their hearing aid purchase.  Coverage for hearing services/aids differs from the traditional medical insurance coverage in the way the benefits are administered.  The following are examples of some reimbursement and financing scenarios:

1-      Some plans pay a set amount of money toward the retail cost of hearing aids and the patient is responsible for the balance.  This type of benefit is typically available for renewal every 3-5 years.

2-      A discount program is where the insurance company has partnered with providers to offer subscribers a percentage off the retail cost of hearing aids and hearing services.  These programs often offer extended warranty plans as well as batteries.

3-      Certain unions or larger corporations have a specific hearing aid for federal and state employees.  Federal employees are covered under the Federal Employee Benefit Health Program for a basic hearing aid and if they want or need an upgrade they are responsible for the difference.  State employees typically have hearing benefits also and the amount of coverage varies with each state.

4-      For those individuals without hearing benefits and limited financial resources there are programs such as GA Lions Lighthouse Foundation that offer assistance for those who meet certain qualifications.  Your audiologist can provide the application.

5- Financing through Wells Fargo and Care Credit is also available.

When purchasing hearing aids, it’s important to be an educated consumer.  With so many different hearing aid providers and numerous insurance plans it can be confusing to know where to start when shopping for hearing aids.  The product is important but the “expert” is most important.  Finding the right hearing solution may not be easy but there are certain tests and services that are a must for those to receive the most beneficial outcomes.

Audiological Consultants of Atlanta is dedicated to improving hearing health and we will work with you and your benefits.  Don’t miss out on the important things in life due to hearing loss.

 

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NATIONAL ACADEMIES OF PRACTICE INDUCTS HELENA STERN SOLODAR, AU.D.

2016-helena-stern-solodar-240Founded in 1981, NAP is an interdisciplinary, nonprofit organization, with membership representing 14 health care professions willing to serve as distinguished advisors to health care policy makers in Congress and elsewhere. The 14 academies of practice within the NAP include: Audiology, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Osteopathic Medicine, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Podiatric Medicine, Psychology, Social Work, Speech-Language Pathology and Veterinary Medicine.

Membership in the NAP is an honor extended to those who have excelled in their profession and are dedicated to furthering practice, scholarship and policy in support of inter-professional care. The central purpose of NAP is to advise public policy makers on health care issues using NAP’s unique perspective — that of expert practitioners and scholars joined in interdisciplinary dialogue.

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BE AWARE!

Do you enjoy listening to live music? Do you use power tools or are you around loud equipment? Read Full Article

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“OnStar” in Your Ears

In 2014, Price Waterhouse Cooper surveyed 1,000 consumers in the US regarding the purchase and use of wearable technology. Results showed that as a general trend, Millennials (those born between 1982-2004) are more likely to own and use a fitness tracker or smart watch. Read Full Article

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HOW CAN TREATING HEARING LOSS KEEP YOU YOUTHFUL AND ACTIVE? by Better Hearing Institute

Addressing hearing loss is one of the best things you can do to improve your quality of life and keep up a youthful pace.
In fact, new technologies have made it easier to manage hearing loss and stay engaged in life.
Today’s hearing aids help people with hearing loss better hear sounds and people from all directions, and they filter out noise. Many sit discreetly and comfortably inside the ear canal and out of sight; and many are wireless, so they can interface easily with other high-tech devices like smartphones, home entertainment systems, conference-room speakerphones, and hearing loops. Some are even waterproof; and others are rechargeable.
Addressing hearing loss really can help you better maintain your vitality. Here’s how:
1. By getting out and enjoying life: People with hearing difficulty who use hearing aids get more pleasure in doing things and are even more likely to exercise and meet up with friends to socialize.
2. By nurturing relationships and social connections: Most people who currently wear hearing aids say it not only helps their overall ability to communicate effectively in most situations, but it also has a positive effect on their relationships and ability to participate in group activities. And they’re more likely to have a strong social network.
3. By keeping a positive outlook: Research shows that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to be optimistic and feel engaged in life. Many even say they feel more confident and better about themselves as a result of using hearing aids.
4. By being a go-getter: People with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to tackle problems actively, research shows. And most hearing aid users in the workforce say it has helped their performance on the job. In fact, research found that using hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss. People with untreated hearing loss can lose as much as $30,000 in income annually, the study found.
5. By doing what you can to protect your cognitive function, stay on your feet, and keep the blues away: A study from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University found that hearing aids may slow cognitive decline tied to hearing loss. The study found that estimated 20-year rates of decline in memory and global function were greatest in participants who did not use a hearing aid. Earlier studies have linked hearing loss to dementia and cognitive issues. Another Johns Hopkins study showed that people in middle age (40-69) with even just mild hearing loss were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. The intensive listening effort demanded by unaddressed hearing loss may take cognitive resources away from what is needed for balance and gait, researchers have suggested. And a 2014 study found that hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of depression adults of all ages, but is most pronounced in 18 to 69 year olds.

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Am I Just Dizzy or Am I Experiencing Vertigo?

Millions of Americans have disorders of balance they describe as dizziness. What can be difficult for both a patient and their doctor is that dizziness is a subjective term. Read Full Article

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REAL-EAR MEASUREMENTS: WHAT ARE THEY AND WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

Has your audiologist recently positioned you in front of an unfamiliar computer and asked you to sit very still and quiet while they perform measurements on your hearing aids?   If they have not done this, they should!  These measurements are called real-ear measurements which are imperative for appropriate and successful hearing aid fittings on all hearing aid users.

We at Audiological Consultants of Atlanta take pride in our patient care and attention to detail. We believe that if we do not practice audiology by appropriate standards that we are not doing right by our patients or our profession.  Part of practicing audiology by appropriate standards is using evidence based practice.  This means that we practice audiology based on information and evidence from our audiology research community.  The audiology research community continuously publishes peer reviewed studies to help the audiology community better understand and treat hearing loss.  Real-ear measurements have been proven by the audiology research community as the gold standard for hearing aid fitting verification.

Real-ear measurements are important because they measure how a hearing aid’s intensity (volume) and frequency response (pitch) are affected by your ear. When hearing aid manufacturers create a hearing aid and decide how to program it they do so based on one sized and shaped ear.  Real-ear measurements allow us to apply the hearing aid fitting to your specific ear.  Using real-ear measurements, we are able to measure how your ear affects the intensity and frequency response of the hearing aid and adjust the hearing aid settings based on that response.  The results are hearing aid settings that are best suited for the size and shape of your ear and for your hearing loss.

When we do real-ear measurements, we start by putting a thin, soft tube into the ear canal and playing a sound to measure how the size and shape of the ear affects and changes the sound. Next, we put the hearing aid into the ear and play speech and other sounds to see what amplified sound looks like as it arrives at the ear drum.  Finally, we make appropriate adjustments based on the patient’s audiogram, the response we see on the computer screen and, the patient’s feedback as to how the hearing aid sounds.  We also use evidence based amplification targets to help guide our decisions as to how to set the volume of the hearing aids.

At ACA we do real-ear measurements to assist with all hearing aid fittings. However, we also use real-ear measurements when we need to make adjustments to hearing aids at hearing aid checks, to show us when a hearing aid is weak or not working correctly and needs repair, and to give patients’ a visual demonstration of what they are or are not receiving in terms of amplification from hearing aids.

Unfortunately, there are my audiologists who do not use real-ear measurements in their audiology practice. We believe this is a mistake.  Not only does it make their job more difficult, but not using real-ear measurements also results in less accurate and less effective hearing aid fittings.  At ACA we use real-ear measurements because we pledge to serve our patients with the best Audiological care.  According to evidence based practice, the best audiological care cannot be provided without the use of real-ear measurements.

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Audiological Consultants on Atlanta & Co. – What Makes Us Different?

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Audiological Consultants was recently featured on 11Alive’s Atlanta & Co! We brought along one of our patients, Carolyn, to discuss the Lyric hearing device. You’ve probably heard stories about people having trouble manipulating their hearing aid batteries, adjusting them, putting them in, taking them out, or even losing them. Read Full Article

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