What is an audiologist?
An audiologist is an individual who has obtained a graduate or doctoral degree in hearing science and disorders. Although not physicians, they can evaluate hearing sensitivity for all ages and alert your physician if a hearing problem warrants medical or surgical attention.
Audiologists in the state of Tennessee are required to be licensed by the state and update their knowledge each year by obtaining a specified amount of continuing education credits.
Many audiologists also dispense hearing aids. Because hearing aids alone cannot solve all hearing problems, they also specialize in developing hearing rehabilitation programs to help individuals with hearing impairment get reacquainted with the world of sound. These programs may include speechreading (lipreading) practice, Listening and Communication Enhancement (LACE), counseling and setting realistic expectations.
How many people have a hearing loss?
About 17% (36 million) of American adults report some degree of hearing loss.
18% of American adults 45-64 years old, 30% of adults 65-74 years old, and 47% of adults 75 years old or older have a hearing impairment.
About 15% (26 million) of Americans aged 20-69 have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to loud sounds, noise at work or in leisure activities.
Men are more likely to experience hearing loss than women.
About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born deaf or hard of hearing. Nine out of every 10 children who are born deaf are born to parents who can hear.
About 4,000 new cases of sudden deafness occur each year in the United States. Hearing loss affects only one ear in 9 out of 10 people who experience sudden deafness. Only 10 to 15% of patients with sudden deafness know what caused their loss.
About 615,000 individuals in the United States have been diagnosed with Ménière’s disease – a change in the fluid volume of your inner ear that can affect hearing and balance. Another 45,500 are newly diagnosed each year.
Only 1 out of 5 people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually wears one.
– Compiled by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).
What happens if I don’t do anything about my hearing loss?
According to a well-documented study conducted by Seniors Research Group, an alliance between the National Council on Aging and Market Strategies, Inc., you’re more likely to experience depression and anxiety and are less likely to participate in organized social activities compared to those who wear hearing aids.
What should I know about speechreading (lipreading)?
Watch the speaker carefully so you can see every expression. It will give you a clue as to what the speaker is saying. Don’t concentrate on the speaker’s lips alone.
Check the seating arrangement in the room and then seat yourself across from the speaker. Be sure that you are both in good light. The light should fall on the speaker’s face, not in your eyes.
Determine as soon as possible what the topic of conversation is, even if you have to ask someone.
Look for ideas rather than isolated words.
Relax while you are speechreading. Do not strain to hear or see speech. A combination of hearing and seeing helps you to understand most speakers more easily.
Keep abreast of current events so you can enter into conversation.
Keep up on your friends’ interests and new developments so you will have something to talk about with them.
Ask people to repeat if you do not understand them. Reach for clues before you guess.
It is polite to look at people who are speaking to you. Don’t be afraid they will think you are staring at them.
Remember that it takes time to become a good speechreader. Each individual will learn at a different rate. It takes a lot of practice, but, once you have mastered it, you will find that it is a good friend.
How do I speak with people who have a hearing loss?
Face the hearing-impaired person directly and on the same level whenever possible.
See that the light is shining on your face and not in the eyes of the hearing-impaired person.
Don’t talk from another room. If you must, make sure the person has heard you and knows what room you are in.
Recognize that no one hears as well when ill or tired, especially the hearing-impaired person.
Speak in a normal fashion without shouting or elaborately mouthing words. Words spoken a bit more slowly are clearer than those that are shouted. Don’t drop your voice at the end of sentences.
Keep your hands away from your face while talking.
If a person can’t understand some particular phrase or word, find a different way to say the same thing (rephrase), rather than repeating the original words over and over.
Don’t talk too rapidly or use sentences that are too complex and go on too long. Slow down a bit and pause between sentences and phrases. Make sure you have been understood before going on.
If you are giving specific information such as time or place, be sure it is repeated back to you by the hearing-impaired person. Many numbers and words sound alike.
Avoid sudden changes of topic. If the subject has changed, tell the hearing impaired person, “We are talking about ________ now.”
In addition to wearing hearing aids, is there anything else I can do to hear more clearly?
YES!! LACE is an interactive computerized aural rehabilitation program that has already helped thousands of people who live with some degree of hearing loss increase their listening skills by up to 45%.
Just as physical therapy can help rebuild muscles and adjust movements to compensate for physical weakness or injury, LACE will help you develop skills and strategies to deal with situations when hearing is inadequate. Whether you wear hearing aids, are just acquiring aids, or simply wish to improve your listening skills, LACE training will help you get the most out of the sounds of life.
We don’t really hear in our ears; we hear in our brain. Hearing aids can help a person detect softer sounds, but they don’t necessarily provide good listening skills.
Even people with normal hearing can be poor listeners. Good listening skills is one of the essential components in effective communication.
Other components include rapid thought processing, auditory memory, use of language skills, and interactive strategies. Additionally, the confidence that what you thought you heard was what was actually spoken is vital.
These abilities can be damaged both by hearing loss and by the natural aging process. LACE is designed to enhance the ability to communicate by training the brain to best utilize these skills.
LACE is available for demonstration and purchase at Franklin Hearing Center. For more information, please view the following video from NBC News Report:
Is there a way to screen my hearing from home?
For a free hearing screening over the telephone and in the privacy of your own home, simply call Dial-A-Hearing-Screening Test at 1-800-222-EARS, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. CST.
This test has been designated by the FDA as a Class II medical device and provides a pure tone air conduction hearing screening. While this is not a definitive hearing test, it will provide you with information as to whether you should seek additional help for your hearing difficulties.
Do you offer payment plans?
We offer CareCredit. It is a payment program to help you pay for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. We offer the 12 months, same as cash option. It’s fast and easy to apply. Our Office Manager can help you through the process and see if you are approved right there in the office. If you have any questions about the CareCredit payment plans, feel free to give us a call or to learn more, click here .
Do you accept insurance?
We accept most insurance plans. Some of these plans consist of: Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield, Cigna, Medicare, Medicaid, and United Healthcare. Please call our Office Manager, and she can verify your benefits for you. No matter what insurance you have, she will check and see what kind of coverage you have for hearing tests and hearing aids.