If it was difficult for you and your guests to hear during Thanksgiving dinner, try these tips to help everyone hear better at other holiday celebrations!
By Susan L Fenrich, BC-HIS*
*Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences
Over half of all gatherings this holiday season, will have at least one person with hearing loss in attendance. Thirty percent of all holiday meals will have hearing aid users sitting at a dinner table. For those that have hearing difficulties family gatherings can be very frustrating. Some people tend to isolate themselves and even become depressed. If you are the host or hostess of a future holiday event there are several things that can be done to make the listening situation significantly better.
- Carefully plan where people sit. You, you may want to have a special table off to the side or in another room, just for children. It makes them feel special, and it also keeps the higher pitched voices away from everyone. This will make it is easier to carry on a conversation. For a long table full of people, place a person with hearing loss at one end of the table, so he/she can concentrate on conversation with those nearby. Being in the middle of the group can be quite frustrating when several conversations are going on at the same time. Seat those with hearing loss further away from the kitchen so the clanging dishes and activity do not interfere with conversation.
- Keep the line of sight open to everyone. It is so much easier to carry on a conversation when you can see the person who you are talking too. Even if they don’t realize it, those with hearing loss often rely on lip reading to successfully carry on a conversation. Avoid tall table decorations which could make it difficult to see each other’s faces. Using round tables can also make it easier to see each other while talking.
- Turn down the volume. Most people, with and without hearing loss have difficulty hearing speech in noise. As we get older, it gets even more difficult to separate speech from surrounding sounds. Most of all holiday gatherings have sports, music, or both playing in the background! To make is easier for Grandma and Grandpa, try to keep the noise level to a minimum. If you are playing your favorite Christmas tunes, set the volume at a lower level. You may want to turn them off completely while eating, so people can hear each other better. Often the men watch a football game, while the women talk. Make sure the men are in another room with the television at a lower level of volume. If Grandpa can’t hear, it might be good idea to have a TV listening device for him to use. Turning the TV off during mealtime might be best, if that is not agreeable, mute the volume and put on closed captioning.
- Don’t talk so fast! When we haven’t seen our family or friends for a long time it is easy to get excited. When we do, we tend to talk a mile a minute. For those with hearing loss and hearing aids it is important to talk slow and deliberate. As we age we not only lose our hearing, but our reaction time gets slower too, making it even more difficult to hear everything that is being said. Even if we hear the words we may not be able to understand them.
- If you have a hearing loss, get hearing help today! Just as it is no fun not to be able to hear; it is no fun for friends and family to have to raise their voices to talk to you. No one should go without hearing help if they need it. There are hearing aids available for every hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget. And if there is “no budget” there is help for that too! For those with hearing aids, you may find significant improvement with an upgrade or with other assistive listening devices, which work with your current hearing aids, to bring the speech signal directly into your ears.
If you want to hear better for your Thanksgiving Dinner or any of your holiday gatherings, call Welsch Hearing Aid Company today at 920-452-0213 or 1-800-924-2101 to schedule your FREE hearing screening and consultation. Come in and hear what the latest hearing aid technology can do for you! Appointments are always recommended and appreciated.
By Susan L Fenrich
About 20 percent of Americans, 48 million, report some degree of hearing loss. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of those people seek hearing help. For those that do use amplification they return to their quite world at night, when they take their hearing aids or cochlear implants off to go to bed. Can these people hear the smoke alarm? Probably not especially when they are sleeping soundly.
Do you have a hearing loss? Can you hear the smoke alarm when you sleep? Even people with a mild to moderate hearing loss may not hear the smoke alarm. Most smoke detectors have a very high-frequency alarm. Unfortunately, it is the hearing in the high frequencies that people tend to lose their hearing first. In some places smoke alarms are required to have a minimum of 75dB of volume. Unfortunately, there is no regulation as to which frequency is supposed to be used. Most of them use 3100 Hertz which is quite high and may be missed by many with hearing loss in the high frequencies. The average voice is 1000 Hertz which is considerably lower.
So why do the manufacturers choose to amplify such high frequencies? They do this mostly because of size. To be small it needs a small speaker, and smaller speakers can’t put out low-frequency sounds at a high enough volume. One smoke alarm study found that with the use of standard smoke alarms the people in the study only woke up 56% of the time. By increasing the volume, participants would wake up about 84% of the time. At least 16% of participants didn’t wake up at all, when a louder-than-normal alarm went off. I certainly would not want to be one of those that didn’t wake-up, would you?
Fortunately, there are several alerting options available. Some smoke alarms are very loud and have strobe lights on them. However, it was found that the strobe lights only woke of about 27% of the study participants. Bed shakers or pillow-shaking alarms woke up about 80% of people with hearing loss in the high frequencies. The best solution so far for those with a high frequency hearing loss has been a smoke detector whose alarm plays a low, 520 Hertz, sound. When loud enough, this will wake up 100% of participants and often does so within 10 seconds. That means even people with hearing loss in the high frequencies will be able to hear the alarm. The only downside to low-frequency alarms is size. 520 Hertz alarms tend to be larger than their higher-frequency counterparts. The Lifetone Bedside Fire Alarm is a combination alarm clock and smoke alarm that hears the sound from the 3T smoke alarm and in turn plays a 520 Hertz sound while also using a bed shaker, and a flashing visual display that says, “FIRE.” With three alarms going off at the same time, the person is almost sure to wake up in case of a fire.
Some of the other smoke alarms available, work with master signalers that can in part be funded through the Telecommunications Equipment Purchase Program. Having your hearing tested will help determine which type of smoke alarm would be best for your hearing loss. According to statistics, 40% of all fire fatalities occur when a fully working smoke detector was nearby. Don’t wait to see if you can hear the alarm when you are sleeping and a fire breaks out. Call Welsch Hearing Aid Company, of Sheboygan at 920-452-0213 or 1-800-924-2101 to schedule you FREE hearing test and find out how we can help you hear your smoke alarm!
Some of the information for this article came from: https://blog.medel.com/the-best-smoke-detector-for-hearing-loss/