Hearing Loss and Dementia Discussed on Ask the Experts

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AM980 – Ask the Experts Show

Episode 11

Interviewer: Brian Nuttall (BN)

Interviewee: Brian Field (BF)

 

BN:        We have Brian Field from Meridian Hearing.  Who, along with the latest technology that has advanced in leaps and bounds is here to help.  Never before has such precision in hearing devices been delivered.  Meridian Hearing offers hearing aids and hearing loss solutions in London and area and they have helped many, 10’s of thousands, just like you to hear clearly again.

We are very pleased to welcome Brian Field, Brian.

 

BF:         Good Morning, Brian.

 

BN:        Good Morning.  Perhaps until you experience hearing loss, most of us never really think of hearing as being truly a gift.

 

BF:         Yeah, it’s something we really take for granted because we don’t think about it.  It’s a really cool thing about the way our brain is organized and that listening to language and listening to speech, we don’t have to think about it.  People talk, we hear, we understand, and we respond. And it’s never thought about.

 

BN:        But people are not responding soon enough and that’s where we really want to go with our show today.  Identifying hearing loss early is so critically important and starting the hearing aid use sooner.

 

BF:         Absolutely.  Almost like anything, doing something earlier rather than later is better.  Taking a little step is always better than taking a big step.  And because hearing loss, for the most part is a slow insidious process, we sort of forget the way we used to hear. We forget that we used to hear the leaves rustling or the birds chirping because it happened so gradually and keeping our hearing working the best that technology will allow has some very significant health and cognitive outcomes for us.

 

BN:        So, let’s start right at the beginning what is hearing loss?

 

BF:         Well, hearing loss is inside our ear, for most of us.  We break hearing loss up into two sections, conductive losses where it’s a blockage of the sound getting through and that might be as simple as wax in the ear canal, of course that’s one of the first things were going to check for.   But for most people the damage or the wearing is to the cochlea, that’s the organ inside our head that converts sound waves into electrical stimulation that goes off to the nerve.  That’s the part that wears out and that can be due to noise exposure over the years and that the aging process.  Those are the two biggest factors, with aging being the biggest one, it just wears out.

 

BN:        And many, many, too many aren’t realizing that they’re getting a degradation in hearing.

 

BF:         Exactly, because it happened slowly and because our brain is capable of helping us out.  You know, we may not be hearing as well as we used to but if we watch people’s faces we can get visual cues that help to fill in the parts that were missing.  So our brain becomes starts to be being used but the unfortunate part of that is we start to then having to think about listening.  Instead of it being automatic, it takes thought and it takes energy.  That’s one of the important things that we’ll get to talked about why it leaves to it changes actually in our brain function.

 

BN:        And the changes are quite significant.

 

BF:         Quite significant, absolutely.  They’ve got some very serious consequences down the road.

 

BN:        And what’s important to mention on our show today is it’s backed with research.

 

BF:         It absolutely is and there’s been significant research in the last 2 years showing a very strong relationship between untreated hearing loss and the health of outcomes that we’re going to be talking about.

 

BN:        A little later in the show I’ll share my experience and I’ll have you explain to the listeners what was done when I came to a Meridian Hearing.  But I’m in that ever-growing Boomer section and the oldest 71 and it’s a growing population of people who really shouldn’t have hearing problems but do.

 

BF:         You know, it’s in terms of noise exposure we’re getting much better at protecting ourselves from workplace noise.  So we don’t see nearly as many people working without hearing protection in a noisy Factory environment that we did in the past.  But we’re replacing a lot of our industrial or workplace noise with recreational noise.  ATVs and snowmobiles and listening to music all day long with iPods.  It’s a nosier world.

 

BN:        But we’re going talk about my experience.  We also welcome your calls.  Brian Field will take your call from Meridian Hearing.  And the number is 519-643-2222.  He can’t make a diagnosis on the radio, but he certainly can steer you in the right direction.  And of course we welcome you dropping by any one of the Meridian Hearing locations.  Will have the list for you because not only are they in London but they’re in our broad backyard that AM980 is welcoming to entertain.

So let’s talk a little bit about how it connects, because you got a beautiful sheet here, a one pager on the consequences of untreated hearing loss.  You touched on a little bit on Dementia, or those who are getting older.  It’s now proven, and research backs, that untreated hearing can lead to dementia.

 

BF:         Yeah and it is, certainly I don’t think you could say hearing loss causes dementia but it certainly speeds up the processes.  And there’s very good evidence to show that comparing people with hearing loss who are treated with hearing aids and people who don’t have hearing aids, equal on all other factors, the dementia moves along at a much faster rate in the people that aren’t treating the hearing loss.  Sort of the theory or the focus behind that is coming out from physician in the states call Dr. Lynn and the process is something like this.  This is what they believe is happening, that when we have hearing loss it creates something called cognitive load.  That’s a big term, but what it means is what I was saying before we have to think about understanding speech.  Instead of it being an automatic function it now requires us actually thinking about it.   We’re watching people’s lips, we’re looking for contextual facial cues, what did we just finished talking about, what are we likely to talk about next, so that we can predict and make good guesses about what likely was said.  That thought process, that bring into the cognitive thinking process, uses up cognitive resources that would otherwise be used for other functions like memory and all sorts of other things.  I saw a really cool poster that actually my wife pointed out to me.  It said I have too many tabs open, and the idea is if our brain is overloaded with functions we start failing.

 

BN:        We’ve all been encouraged to multitask, multitask, multitask, multitask…

 

BF:         But it takes resources.  Their thinking is, from Dr. Lynn’s research, that increased cognitive load makes changes in basic brain structure, it actually changes the way our brain works.  And the other thing that happens, is reduced social engagement.  Because we start not hearing well we may decide ‘well I’m not going to take part in that book club anymore because I really can’t hear what people are saying.’

 

BN:        It’s too much work, too much effort, so I’ll just withdrawal.

 

BF:         And that withdrawal, that social isolation also leads to changes in our brain stimulation.  And that leads to impaired cognitive function so we start not working the way that we used to.  Poor physical function and poor quality of Health or quality of life issues.  We may become paranoid or afraid to answer the phone because we don’t know whether it’s going to be a scammer on the phone and we can’t really hear what they’re saying.  It can lead to a depression, anxiety because we’re not encaged anymore.   We live alone at home and we don’t talk to anybody.  And that’s a sad thing.

 

BN:        Then I guess the domino effect is maybe our eating habits start to change and therefore are immune system that is compromised and we may end up in the hospital.

 

BF:         Yeah, it leads to a whole host of poor outcomes so people with that are dealing with their hearing loss and staying engaged and staying involved have much better outcomes.  Both from a health standpoint, economic standpoint, from mental function standpoints.

 

BN:        So talk to those who haven’t been to Meridian Hearing in some time who need to go just to get checked.

 

BF:         That’s exactly right.  Our big message that we’re trying to put it out there is once you hit 50 or 55 somewhere in that age range, come and see us.  There’s no charge, we will assess your hearing we’ll find out what’s going on, if you’re hearing is normal, have a good day have a good day we’ll see you back in 5 years.  If we see some signs of hearing loss it may just be small at this point.  Not to the point where we do something yet, but at least we’re not going to be on the radar.  We’re going to plan to see you back on a yearly basis because at one point I’m going to say now we’re at the point where we can make a significant difference for you and your hearing. And the research is showing that fitting even very mild hearing loss has these positive Health outcomes.

 

BN:        And seniors are, perhaps to your points earlier about the onset of dementia and depression and maybe family isn’t seeing them often enough.  They tend to be the ones that are doing or having the withdrawal and maybe less likely to want to come to Meridian hearing later in their life.

 

BF:         Exactly, that’s what we see is you know maybe they get to be 85 years old and they’re living at home alone and I often see people in that situation.  And I will talk to them about doing something about their hearing loss and they will say things like ‘Well I have nobody to talk to.  Why do I need to, I don’t need to hear, there’s nothing more for me to hear because I got no one to talk to.’  That’s sad in itself but it’s come on to them almost self-imposed because of the hearing loss they’ve fallen out of doing other activities and that’s what we want to prevent.  That’s what we want to reengage them and it’s great if we have family members there along with them, our more elderly patients who can encourage them to say ‘Yeah Mom we really noticed that you come to family gatherings and you sit back in the corner and don’t really get involved.  We want you to be involved.’

 

BN:        Talking to Brian Field, Dr. of Audiology, owner and director of Meridian Hearing.  You can find them online at meridianhearing.com.  They have locations in Byron, they are also in Wortley village, Beaverbrook.  And also in the cities of Sarnia, Strathroy, they are also in Lucan, and now in Stratford.

Perhaps one of the reasons why more don’t see Meridian hearing and hopefully after these shows one coming in October and November as well.  Is that they don’t know what to expect when they visit you.

 

BF:         Yeah and that’s fair and let’s talk about that.  You had that experience back a while ago, it’s easy there’s, nothing difficult about a hearing examination. I’ll talk to you first and find out what you’ve been noticing, take some history about workplace noise exposure and childhood diseases and things like that.  It’s simple and easy to do.  The testing room where we do the assessment, is large, it’s not a small room telephone booth that you are sitting in.  It’s big enough we can put wheelchairs in there, it’s big enough we can put a spouse or family member to accompany you in the room.  So you won’t feel like you are in this tiny little box.  The instructions are simple and easy, and what you have to do is simple and easy as well.  It doesn’t take long, it takes about 20 minutes.  We’ll take a look at your ears, as I was saying before, if we find wax in there then we’ll look after that.

 

BN:        And it was taken care of.

 

BF:         Yeah, it was looked after.  Then we will assess the hearing, not going to do that before we take the wax out in case that was the issue.  Once we have the results, I’ll explain it in simple easy terms that people can understand.

 

BN:        And let me add to that, absolutely you do that.  I was very impressed by the time that you took with my experience there and the easy-to-understand terminology and you answered any questions. That service that you provide that I know you take pride in has I think kept the business alive, vibrating, and growing.

 

BF:         Yeah, I think that’s one thing I have spent a long time at.  In fact it’s interesting, I learned that ability to look at who I’m talking to and adjust the level of explanation based on them.  If I’ve got an engineer in my office I’ll use more technical terminology. If I don’t have an engineer in my office I’m going to use language that people can understand.  But I learned that from my dad. My dad was a general merchant in Arkona, small little village, he had the General Store in town.  I can remember watching him modify how he spoke depending upon who he was speaking to so the people understood what was being said and it’s a lesson I’ll always learn.

 

BN:        We’ll pick up on that and more in the next segment of our show here on am 980 experts.  Talk about my experience and we’ll talk more about how you know if you have hearing loss and the options, and they are multi, in terms of hearing assessment and hearing aids that are available to you now.  You can call right now to book your free hearing assessment I’ll give you the toll free number to Meridian hearing its +1-800-649-0766.

With Meridian Hearing and Dr. of Audiology, Brian Field, owner and director of Meridian Hearing.  You’ll find them online at www.meridianhearing.com, and that website is rich with information that you need to know.  Because you may not think about it every day as you go about your business, but we here with our brain not just your ears.  When your ears stop working our brain starts to struggle to process auditory information.  Hearing aids can help prevent further damage by keeping our brains active through the restoration of more normal hearing.  But we want to get to that more normal hearing and we want to introduce you to the wonderful options that are available with hearing aids through Meridian hearing and Brian Field is here.  We talked about some of the consequences of untreated hearing loss and lifespan studies show older adults with untreated impaired hearing have a shorter lifespan says research.

 

BF:         That’s what the research shows us and I think it goes back to what we were talking about before, depression is not a good thing.  It leads to poor health outcomes, people perhaps don’t take their medications the way that they should, or they give up on life and not being engaged, not having purpose and function.  You know if you’re involved in a book club every month and you want to read and you want to go there and be engaged and contribute, that’s great.  It keeps you vibrate and healthy.  If you’re not doing those things anymore, or if you’re sitting quietly alone, it’s not good for us.

 

BN:        From my experience then, I filled out the one pager, answered some questions that were important to you that you took a look at even before seeing me.  And then we went into that, what I call it as a non-clinical atmosphere that is Meridian Hearing.  Then we went about, putting little tones in my ear.  What was happening then?

 

BF:         What we’re doing there is trying to measure your hearing thresholds, the quietest sounds that you can hear.  And we measure that across the spectrum of pitch.  So if you think of a piano, there is the low bass notes and the high treble notes.  We want to check how well you can hear across that spectrum.  So there a series of tones at different pitches and I present them and change the intensity until you say you can’t hear them any longer.  And we are plotting that graph.  That help let me know how much hearing loss you have compared to good hearing and normal hearing should be.  So that was the first thing we did, and following that, I said words to you and had you repeat them back to me.  And that was presented at a level that sounded comfortable to you.  And what we are looking for there is the clarity of speech.  So, under ideal conditions, when there is no back ground noise, and me voice was loud enough.  Were you able to clearly repeat those words back to me.  And that’s where we often will see significant changes when we start losing our hearing, is the clarity can fall as well.

 

BN:        I wasn’t surprised to get the information, like the findings, right away.  It’s an immediate response.

 

BF:         Yup, that’s right.  It’s not like we have to say ‘Come back next week to get the results,’ it’s not like having an x-ray or ultrasound where the test is done and come back later to get the results.  The results are presented right at that time.  In fact, even before I tell you what my results said I will tell people ‘Hear is what I would expect…’  ‘And based on the results I measured today I would expect that when people are speaking face-to-face with you in a quiet setting you will hear every word.  And yet if people are speaking as they are walking away from you or going out the door way, you may hear them but you might not be sure what they have said.’  And often people will say ‘Yeah, that’s true.’

 

BN:        And part of the factoring in you questioning is what they do, and other factors…

 

BF:         Yes, and other factors would be work in environment, family history.  Those are the 2 biggest that predict hearing, family history and noise, and of course aging as we talked about before.  But those are the kind of things I ask.  One of the other things I focus on is, I always ask them from the questionnaire, you would have seen it there, is do you have tinnitus.  Now, I think I describe it as ringing or buzzing or humming sounds in your ears because not everyone is aware what the word tinnitus means.  But all it means is do you have a noise inside your head that’s not coming from outside.  Because about 90% of people with tinnitus actually have underlying hearing loss.

 

BN:        More on that, and we’ll get into the hearing aids, wait until you hear about the technology that we’ll get into in the second half of the show.  You can call right now and we encourage you to take that first step because identifying hearing loss early and starting hearing aid use now is significant.  And the place to begin is at Meridian Hearing Centre in London.

 

***End of 1st clip (11), start of clip 2 (12)***

 

BN:        It’s nice to be back for the new season on AM980 the Experts.  And Brian Field is the owner and director of Meridian Hearing.  You can find them online at www.meridianhearing.com and you can call now to book your free hearing assessment, we will give you the number in just a moment.  By the way Meridian Hearing is in Byron, you will also find them in Wortley village, also London North at Beaverbrook.  They are also in Sarnia, Strathroy, Lucan, and now the most recent location in Stratford.

 

BF:         Yes, absolutely, yes.  We are happy to be in Stratford now.

 

BN:        Congratulations on that.  One thing that came to mind in terms of driver’s license renewal can be impacted.

 

BF:         Yeah, it could be.  And depending on when you go for the test or the discussion with the assessors, you could be not hearing well and not answering a question properly or it could lead to some miss communications.  Now in terms of hearing, you don’t need to be able to hear to drive a car.  It’s something I find to be a bit odd because hearing is our primary alerting sense, so being aware of an ambulance coming up behind us or a side street where you can’t see the lights yet but you can hear the sound.  It’s really important, but technically you can drive without being able to hear, but it’s much better to be able to hear those things.

 

BN:        So, you have identified the degree of hearing loss through a very extensive plan that you have at each and every one of your Meridian Hearing locations and you have the solutions.  How do you treat the hearing loss on a very individual basis.

 

BF:         Well the first thing is to explain the results, and what that means for them in a practical sense.  What they’re missing, and what we can do about it.  We’re never going to give people back the hearing they had when they were a teenager, we can’t turn back the hands of time.  However, we want to allow people to hear the best that the technology will allow with what we have available today.  What we have available today is so much better than what we had even 5 years ago.

 

BN:        Although on that point you do have one wonderful point where someone studying Spanish and that beautiful language required her, that brain again to be working but she had degradation in hearing.

 

BF:         Yeah, it’s really a fantastic story.  She came to use because she was taking Spanish lessons up at the University.  But she was having troubles catching the nuance of the language of the sounds of the words.  And so we assessed her hearing and she did have quite a mild hearing loss.  But she said ‘I’ve got to do something about this.’  So we fit her with the appropriate hearing aids, and she came back and she said ‘It’s an amazing difference, I’m hearing the differences in the sounds now.’  And you know we often think, well could it make that much difference, and it really did.  Because in English when we are talking in our native, mother tongue, we can make good guesses about what likely was said and what sounds follow other sounds in a natural way because the language is so ingrained in us.  So with a new language where she couldn’t predict what that sound should be or should sound like, she was missing it and being able to hear dramatically changed her life and her ability to hear that language.

 

BN:        So you mentioned, you can’t bring it back to typical normal but you got it pretty good for her.

 

BF:         Yes, for her it made a dramatic difference and for most people we can make a dramatic difference.  You know, from the mildest hearing losses to the most severe hearing losses.  What we use, the type of hearing aid, the style of hearing aid, is all dependent on the type of hearing loss, the nature and degree of hearing loss and the person themselves.  What kind or size of ear do they have? Do they have straight ear canals or do they have crooked ear canals?  What are their physical capabilities, do they have Parkinson’s disease and their hands shake.  We have to look at all of those factors when we are trying to decide on the appropriate devices that they can manipulate and handle and yet will deal with their hearing loss appropriately.  All those things have to be looked at, and we make pain-staking efforts to look at all of those factors and not just say ‘Here you go, see you later.’

 

BN:        And you share all of that again in easy to understand terminology and make recommendations on particular models of hearing aids that might get them to where they need to be.

 

BF:         Yeah, exactly.  And not just types and styles but also what manufacturer.  We are not tied to any particular manufacturer, we are not owned by anybody, we pick and choose what we think is the best product, and we pick and choose from different manufacturers.  And one type of device we may like this manufacturer for, and another type of device another manufacturer we think rises above the rest, because we always want to give people the best available technology.

 

BN:        A good place to drop in OHIP and coverage and how one can pay for them.

 

BF:         Our assessment, there is no fee for our assessment, and that will give you our complete assessment.  It’s not a screening, it’s not an ‘okay, yeah we found something, come back later and pay us more.’  The assessment is a complete full diagnostic assessment and we will give you the results.  When it comes to purchasing hearing aids, if that’s the appropriate thing to do for you, there’s a whole range of prices of hearing aids and we have to tailor that to your budget.  The short answer is though, the more expensive hearing aids actually work better.  But we have to tie that with people budget, we have to tie it in with their listening needs.  Are you a high power executive sitting at board meetings and missing the ‘s’ on the end of one word can make a million dollar difference in a contract, you know we want to be making sure you are hearing everything really, really well.

 

BN:        Or a doctor listening to a patient.

 

BF:         Or a doctor, exactly.  For people whose lifestyle may have changed and your retired and maybe don’t need the highest levels of technology but we need to do what’s going to give them good hearing for the most everyday thing that they are existing in.  But bottom line is, like anything else, typically the more you pay the better the product you get.  But there’s something for everybody.

 

BN:        Brian is encouraging you to have your hearing loss, if there is indeed any hearing loss identify early.  But you won’t know until you make that appointment and that first hearing assessment is absolutely free.  There’s no charge, you have nothing to lose and you may have more hearing to gain.  I’m going to give you the toll free number to get that assessment rolling, it’s 1-800-649-0766.  You’ll be talking to Meridian Hearing.

I had a hearing assessment with Meridian Hearing and I’m very happy to share with you my very positive experience.  And I encourage you to experience the same, it was fun, Meridian Hearing performs more hearing aid consultation than any other hearing clinic in the London area.  Brian Field is a Doctor of Audiology and the owner and director of Meridian Hearing with some exciting news about where technology as advanced.

 

BF:         Yeah, it’s really quite amazing what we’re seeing now, the level of, how should I say that, the computer that’s inside of all hearing aids now.  To clear the air on that, all hearing aids are digital now, non-digital hearing aids haven’t existed for the long time.  So when the sound comes in to the microphone it’s digitized, it’s called an analog to digital conversion, and the little computer in the hearing aid manipulates that signal to try to reduce noise and enhance speech and determine whether you’re in a big noisy place, or outside, or a in a small room.  And it enhances the sound and turns is back into a sound in your ear.  But all that has to happen really fast.  If there was a delay, people’s lips would be out of sync with what you were hearing.  S that processing has to happen within 2-3 milliseconds and that’s why the more expensive hearing aids do more, they have a faster processor so that they can do more digital signal processing within that limited time window that we have available to use.  That’s the difference in cost now.  20 years ago, the biggest difference in cost was the size of the device, now size really has no factor anymore.

 

BN:        Cosmetically, they are very small.

 

BF:         They are very small.  And depending on what type you need, from the biggest to the smallest, the computer that runs them is the same in all of them.  And that’s where the difference lies.  And that’s where the value lies in the more expensive, is how well they are able to work for you.  To help you listen in noisy places, reverbing or echoy rooms.  And the other neat thing the is happening with hearing aids is, as well as that enhanced technology internal to them, most hearing aids now communicate with each other.  So the right and left side the computers are talking to each other wirelessly but it allows them to make decisions as a whole.  As opposed to 2 individual hearing aids that are functioning.  The other neat thing is, with many hearing aids, we can actually connect them up to other peripheral devices.  Particularly if you are an iPhone user, a couple of the manufacturers have done…

 

BN:        So we have an app for hearing aids.

 

BF:         We have an app for hearing aids, right on the iPhone there’s a control app so your phone becomes the remote control for your hearing aids.  So you can turn the volume up or down, you can make adjustments to the tone quality and how they are working.  So someone might think you are checking a text, but you’re actually turning them down.

 

BN:        But just don’t do it while driving.

 

BF:         Yeah, just not while driving, absolutely.  But this brings up one interesting thing.  And we talked about this momentarily about tinnitus.  About 90% of people with tinnitus have underlying hearing loss.  One of the really neat thing we can do is we can stream information from your phone into your hearing aids.  So, again one of the manufacturers has an app for that.  So, playing in your hearing aids at a level that you want, you can have the sounds of either being the ocean, in a forest with birds chirping and a brook babbling, you can have music playing.  Anything you want that will give you relief from the tinnitus and yet not disturb the other people around you.

 

BN:        Yeah.  So for those that have this wonderful technology, how often should they see you to make sure that it’s fully operational?

 

BF:         Here’s the way we deal with that:  When we fit you with the hearing aid, we will explain everything you need to know about how to care for them, work them, do everything you need to know.  We follow up with a phone call 2 days later to make sure that something hasn’t come up that we didn’t cover that day, but you’re also booked for a visit back in 2 weeks.  That’s an important visit so we can do any fine tuning or adjustments, covering the areas where you might have questions about.  If we’ve made adjustments then we will see you again in 2 weeks until we are satisfied that everything working top notch for you.  Following that we like to see people at least once a year, and the purpose of that is to reassess your hearing because if your hearing has changed then we can now go in a change the way the hearing aids are set, we have that ability.  It also gives us a chance to make sure the hearing aids are clean and working up to their potential.  So, once a year at a minimum, but we also tell people, if you have trouble in between, if something is right, if something doesn’t seem to be the way it should, call, we will see you any time.  We are happy to do that, and that’s all included as well.

 

BN:        Again, depending on the manufacturers that have the apps, not all of them do.  But you can also make use of the tracking that is available through their product.  And that’s one more resource for you in terms of the fine tuning.

 

BF:         Absolutely.  Some hearing aids have right built inside of them have, they that note of how any hours a day you’re wearing them, what level you are setting the volume control at.  We can track all of those thing, and if we can see something amiss we can discuss it with you.

 

BN:        You may not be aware of government grants that are available as well, and we will talk about that next.  You can call now to book your free hearing assessment, yes I did say FREE, free hearing assessment 1-800-649-0766 to Meridian Hearing Centre.

 

BN:        On The Experts with Meridian Hearing Centre with Brian Field, and we really can’t emphasize enough and that it could be very much life altering, you may rediscover you world again by identifying your hearing loss, if there is indeed any, early.  So why not start now.  And taking a look at the aids that are available now and the exciting technology that has so advanced.  But yet, you never digress from it being tailored or customized.

 

BF:         Absolutely.  Everybody’s hearing loss is different, everybody’s physical attributes of their ears are different and so customization is absolutely imperative to having a good outcome.

 

BN:        What government grants are available, Brian?

 

BF:         Here in Ontario, the government provides a grant, it’s called the Assistive Devices Program, and they don’t deal with just hearing aids, they help with wheelchairs and other assistive devices for your home.  But with hearing aids they provide a grant of $500 per ear, so a $1000 for a pair.  And that’s available every 5 years.  That program has been around since the mid 80’s, the last time they tweaked it was in 1999.  But it still exists and everybody in Ontario gets that’s grant, it has nothing to do with how much income you have, it is a fixed grant for everybody as long as you have a healthcard and live in Ontario, that grant is available to you.

Those in terms of government grants, but the other thing we always look at with people is there some other source of funding.  Were you a Veteran, because Veteran Affairs will cover hearing aids.  Did you work in a noisy workplace, then we recommend putting in an application to WSIB and we will help you with that.  We will give you the form, show you how to fill it out, and help you with any questions you might have to get that established and rolling because with those programs, once you’re covered through Veteran Affairs or Workers Compensation then they look after hearing aids for the rest of your life.  And not just the hearing aids but repairs, batteries, everything you need to make them function.

 

BN:        Well I had a very wonderfully positive experience by having my ears tested through Meridian Hearing.  When do you want to see me again?

 

BF:         For people with normal hearing, we would generally want to see them again in 5 years.  That’s a reasonable time frame to assess it again, or any time you notice a change.  If you were to say ‘You know what Brian, I was here 2 years ago but it seems to me like I’m missing things.’  Then we’re happy to see you again.  If we’ve identified hearing loss at the initial visit, depending on how much and what the nature of it was, we may want to see you in 1 year or 2 years.  But we do want to track it and monitor it so that when the time comes where there’s going to be benefit from getting started with hearing aids then we’re going to say ‘Now’s the time.’

 

BN:        Hearing and quality of life are so interconnected.  When you look at the list here on the consequences of untreated hearing loss, cognitive decline, life span is affected, tinnitus.  90% of people with tinnitus have hearing loss, that’s a fact, that’s research backing that.  We talked about depression or withdrawal when people don’t feel part of the world or part of their family conversation.  And the impact of that is very significant.

 

BF:         It’s very significant.  And it’s so sad when you see that happen when it doesn’t need to happen.  If we can only get that message out to start dealing with your hearing loss when you first begin to notice it.  And these are going to be things like: someone says ‘Well you know, I can hear fine, but my wife mumbles.’ Or ‘If people would just look at me I would hear them fine.’  And so we tend to blame the rest of world, people talk to quickly, people mumble, people don’t look at me when they are talking.  And so we tend to, that gradual change, we tend to push it on other people, but the issues is us.

 

BN:        Talking to a lot of boomers, we’re talking to a lot of seniors on our show today, but why don’t we talk their children and grandchildren for a moment and addition to turn the buds down, what advice do you have.

 

BF:         Yeah, that’s one of the biggest things we are seeing with, I hate to use the word, young people, teenagers, because I was one once, listening to music.  It used to be when we listened to music it was out in the air and the volume was necessarily kept moderate because we didn’t want to disturb other people but now with earbuds, we can listen to music all day long at a level that is far too loud.  And the damage, or the risk of that, is that damage to our ears happens from how loud and how long, it’s a cumulative effect.  So if we’re listening to music for 6 hours straight…

 

BN:        Online video games where they are now wearing headphone and they got the mic…

 

BF:         Yup, hours at a time.  You often have the level too loud.  My rule of thumb is 50% on the dial of your iPod is usually a safe level.  Some iPod, some of Apple products parents can put controls on them, and that you can lock how loud it can go.

 

BN:        Look forward to having you back in October, there are many directions you’re going to take the show.  A little bit about your personal background, which will be fascinating.  We encourage you to go to the AM980 Experts page because we will have the show, so if you tuned in a little bit later you will have all the wonderful information.  But we do encourage you to identify and get that hearing loss identified early and start hearing aid use early as well.  I’ll give you the toll free number and you can get a free hearing assessment at Meridian Hearing Centre 1-800-649-0766.  You will find Meridian Hearing Centre’s in Byron, Wortley village, Beaverbrook London North, also in Sarnia, Strathroy, Lucan, and now in Stratford.