Decorating Hearing Aids

Post By: Ellie Adams

Question: Should my child decorate his/her hearing aids or could that damage them?

Answer: Hearing aids can absolutely be decorated! Let’s face it, as amazing and helpful as hearing aids are, they aren’t always the coolest or most fashionable looking accessory for kiddos. Rather than being embarrassed and trying to hide their hearing aids we want them to take ownership be proud of them!

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Hearing aids can come in tons of different colors, but it can also be fun to add a little more! Phonak (a hearing aid manufacturer common with kids) has a special backpack that all new hearing aids come with and included in the backpack is a set of stickers that kids can use to decorate their hearing aids, adding flowers, butterflies, cars, and lots more! If you don’t have this kit, no problem!—you can also use nail stickers and washi tape to add some fun to your hearing aids. There are also companies (like http://phonak.skinit.com/) that make a decorative “skin” for the hearing aids that come fun prints. Decorating the hearing aids with your child can not only be a fun thing to do together but it might also get them more interested in wearing the hearing aids more often and take ownership of them.

 BUT… there is a bit of a trick to it. There are a couple key parts of the hearing aids that should not be covered up by stickers. These include the microphones and the LED light/button if your child has one. If your child would like to add stickers or decorative skins to their hearing aids you should first look in the user manual and locate the microphones (usually 2) and the LED light/button so that you can help your child avoid covering those with stickers. And of course, if you have any questions your audiologist is always happy to help. 

Advocating at School

Post by: Ellie Adams

Success in school is never easy—and for kiddos and teenagers with hearing loss this can be made even more complicated. Imagine being in school and struggling to hear for 8 hours, 5 days a week.  It would be exhausting!! Students with hearing loss face this problem more often than you’d think, and sometimes hearing aids just aren’t enough. Schools and classrooms typically consist of hard tile floors, brick walls, and no curtains—making them a bit of an acoustic nightmare.

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So how can you advocate for your student? There are a number of strategies students and teachers can work on implementing together. The simplest and often times most effective strategy is preferential seating. If your child has hearing loss, talk to their teacher to make sure that they are sitting in the front of the room and facing the teacher.  This alone will make a big difference! It saves the student from straining all day long to hear and it keeps the teacher from having to strain his or her voice.

If your student continues to struggle with the help of hearing aids and preferential seating, teachers and schools may need use something called an  FM System. An FM system consists of a microphone that the teacher wears around his/her neck and a transmitter that transmits the sound directly to the student’s hearing aids via a FM signal. FM systems aren’t only for kiddos with hearing loss—studies have shown that they are significantly beneficial for everyone! Even children with normal hearing often times have difficulty in classroom settings and benefit from additional amplification of their teacher’s voice!

Remember, you have lots of resources at your fingertips if you are struggling to find a solution to hearing at school. Your audiologist, school administration, and teachers are all there to help your student succeed!

 

Goodbye For Now

Post By: Olivia Hahn

After a year working for the man (Anna Bogdon) the time has come for me to move on! A brand new adventure in Louisville, KY awaits and sadly I must say goodbye to the best job I ever had. Working for HCC has taught me many, many things such as how to operate a business with the patient truly as the first priority, how to cooperate as a team in the workplace, and of course it's given me experience in audiology that undergraduates only dream of.  

Throughout this internship I've been handed responsibility that originally I was intimidated by but has now become routine. I've been pushed to my limits mentally and it's made me a better student. A wonderful staff of women have believed in me and trusted me to work with their patients that they love and care about. HearCare Connection is a great place and I'm very blessed to have been a part of such a support group. 

So as I move onto my next journey in life, I just wanted to thank the staff and patients involved at HCC. Whether you knew it or not, you've been molding me into the future professional I'm so excited to become! I'll say goodbye for now because I'm sure I'll be back to torture you all again some day :) Take care everyone! 

-Olivia 

What HCC Means To Us

Post By: Olivia Hahn

Most people find a day job to be a drag. They find working far from entertaining and to say they dread going in a majority of their mornings is probably a true accusation. It's a good thing that the staff at HCC aren't  considered 'most people'. With HearCare Connection comes an uplifting atmosphere and an environment that draws you in. This is why moving on from my internship will be so difficult. I've never been so dedicated to a job or bragged about my coworkers more than I ever have as an employee elsewhere.

I asked the staff to send me a small quote on what they think HCC represents to them. This could be how our mission affects the community, what personal growth they've experienced in their time here, or why ,unlike most people, they look forward to coming in every morning. I would like to share the raw responses I got to show that we believe in what we preach and we appreciate this organization as much as the people we serve do.

Cindy, our patient care coordinator: "Every day at HearCare Connection is an opportunity to learn, to serve, and to participate in making a difference in the world, by making a difference for our patients and their families. Each patient brings me an opportunity to be a part of their growth and success, and every challenge is a chance to creatively work to meet the needs of a patient or the clinic.  There is never a dull moment here!"

Anna, our executive director: "HCC shows people that they can experience life in abundance!  Nothing has to stop them from pursuing their dreams."

Jodi, our community liaison: "HCC is my way of giving back to our community. I was gifted hearing aids three and a half years ago and I want to be able to do the same for more people in our community. HCC means changing a life, one day at a time for better hearing!"

Olivia, our totally awesome and outstanding intern: "This is a place of opportunity where I think people have given up hope on such a thing. We revive that dream and fill that void of being able to communicate and interact in social settings and that's something that everyone in this world wants. For me, this organization has shown me the ethical side of a business and how to move forward with great intentions." 

HearCare Connection is much more than meets the eye and the staff stands by the principles that this company was originally built on. HCC means the world to all of us and we want everyone to get on board and help us continue to grow and change other's lives. By doing so, you'll see why we have such a love for our work. Have a great week everyone!

-Olivia

Ring... Ring... It's Tinnitus Calling

Post By: Olivia Hahn

To set the stage, Tinnitus is a physical condition, experienced as noises or ringing in the ears or head when no such external physical noise is present. Tinnitus is usually caused by a fault in the hearing system; it is a symptom, not a disease in itself. The word "tinnitus" means "tinkling or ringing like a bell". If you feel like you know someone or you yourself is experiencing a consistent ringing in your ears then it very well may be tinnitus. 

Tinnitus is extremely common, affecting 10-15% of the adult population around the world. More than 50 million US citizens suffer from it ranging from a mild to severe degree. Around 12 million adults have experienced tinnitus to such a severe degree that they seek medical attention to attempt to relieve the ringing. It is estimated that 1 in every 5 teenagers notice ringing in their ears whether it is temporary or permanent. 

Tinnitus can be caused be stress or anxiety. It can be a side effect of some medications. Exposure to loud noises consistently like working in a factory or attending loud concerts all the time while not wearing hearing protection can help in acquiring tinnitus. Even a shorter exposure to loud noises like mowing the lawn can cause temporary ringing in the ears. A sensorineural hearing loss is a common cause of this as well. Tinnitus is the #1 war wound in veterans. 60% of veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq return home with hearing loss and tinnitus.

There are objective and subjective forms. Objective is rarer and can be heard by other people other than the individual that it is directly affecting. Subjective is most common where the individual experiencing the ringing in his or her ears is the only one that can hear it.

Unfortunately there are no scientifically proven cures for most cases of chronic tinnitus. The primary objective for treatment in these cases is to lower perceived burden of the tinnitus which allows the patient to live a more comfortable and content life. Counseling and therapy to bring down stress levels is a great way to lower the affects that tinnitus can bring. Hopefully in the near future we as audiologists and scientists can come up with a cure for this common and concerning problem. Take care and protect those ears! 

Your Friendly Neighborhood Audiologist

Post By: Olivia Hahn 

As I get closer and closer to my moving date, I'm finding myself getting more and more excited. Leaving my hometown to begin a brand new adventure with new people in a new city couldn't be more appealing to me at this moment in my life. I love the location I'm headed towards and I love the reason I'm heading towards it even more... to become a doctor of audiology! I am making my family call me 'doctor' by the way. The only reason I wished I was getting my masters is so they would have to call me 'master' instead.

So off to Louisville I go! My head is looking up and my confidence is at an all-time high. At least until I spend my first all-nighter in the library then ask me again how I'm feeling... Anyway, why so confident and enthusiastic you ask? Well, the stipulation that an audiologist is just focused on hearing aids is totally false! There are so many things that I will learn in the realm of this occupation including diagnosis of audiological disorders, diagnosis of hearing loss, rehabilitation for hearing loss, designing and implementing assistive devices for hearing loss, auditory processing evaluations, helping with classroom amplification systems, diagnosis and rehabilitation for balance disorders, earwax and tinnitus management, patient and family counseling, implementing sign language into appointments, research, development, and so much more!

I realize that last paragraph may have been a snooze-fest to some of you but to me it's audiology heaven! I'm looking forward to a profession that is so broad and becoming so dynamic that it could place me in all different atmospheres and open many doors for me in the future. I could work in a private practice, an ENT office, a hospital, a school, a military clinic, universities, and industrial settings. The extensive scope of practice I'll be learning makes me ecstatic because I'll constantly be given new things to research, memorize, and practice and I am not ever going to be restricted to one thing. Unless I want to be restricted to one specialty then I can do that too! The hearing and balance world is at my fingertips. 

If you must know, I do have a plan set in mind but I'm sure by the time I'm through with my professional studies it'll have changed, at least a little bit. I would like to own and operate my own private practice in downtown Indianapolis one day and be what I would call a 'Hearing Hero' in the community where I dwell. I can see it now... "Olivia, your friendly neighborhood audiologist. The Indianapolis Hearing Hero". Needless to say I am very enthusiastic about my future and the surprises it holds for me. One thing I loved about the students and environment of Louisville School of Medicine was how confident the they were in the specialties they had selected to take into the real world with them beyond schooling and how supportive the staff was of those selections. I'm looking forward to that moment myself. 

So after all this nerdy enthusiasm, I hope I shined a light on the excitements of audiology and why I'm deciding to go down this long and extensive path just to get a job. I've yet to meet an audiologist that is crude or dislikes the fact that they have to wake up and put on their white coats in the morning. There's a lot more to this profession than is advertised and that's what's so appealing about it. As I further myself in school and in the real world, I'd like to bring those unknown responsibilities to the forefront. So keep an eye out (and an ear) because your Hearing Hero will be taking over the world... in 4 years.

Have a great week everybody- Olivia 

Swimmer's Ear Prevention

Post By: Olivia Hahn

Today my topic seems to be appropriate for the hot summer days that have begun. As a kid I remember ALWAYS swimming. No matter what, I was in the water if it was available and I stayed in there for hours doing handstands and racing from one end of the pool to another. Now my main focus is on reapplying sunscreen and torturing myself in the heat to became a few shades darker...oh, how times have changed. Keeping your children out of the water is a futile task so you might as well have a few tips and tricks to help them avoid the dreaded 'swimmer's ear.'

Here's a quick break down for you: the ear consists of three sections. The outer ear -- which is basically what everyone sees and includes the canal leading to your eardrum; the middle ear -- which is all the tiny bones that vibrate when sound shoots through; and the inner ear -- which is your hearing organ called the cochlea that includes a bunch of tiny hairs that interpret sound to send to the brain.

Swimmer's Ear, which is called otitis externa, is easily confused with the common ear infection in children called otitis media. Otitis meaning 'inflammation', 'externa' meaning 'outer', and media meaning 'middle'. Otitis externa (swimmer's ear) is caused by inflammation of the outer passage of the ear. Otitis media (common infection in children) is caused by inflammation of the middle passage of the ear. Hopefully this is making sense.

Anyway, I went to Florida with my dad one year when I was in grade school. We were having a fantastic vacation eating exotic seafood and driving in our rented convertible (top down, obviously). One night I woke up in extreme agony (I don't really remember it but my dad said it was just as painful for him to watch me deal with it as it was for me to actually live through it). The only place open that late at night was a Walgreen's, so my dad called the pharmacist and explained  my symptoms. After learning of my extensive time spent in the pool and ocean, a pharmacist diagnosed my swimmer's ear and suggested my dad get ear drops immediately. So, off we went at 2 a.m. to find the nearest pharmacy.

If my father new this could've been avoided then I KNOW he would've taken measures to do so because to this day I swear he's still scarred by our experience (he's the one that gave me this topic, to be completely honest). So I am going to give some tips and tricks on how to avoid a situation that could ruin a perfectly good vacation! 

-If the kids can stand them, go purchase waterproof, tight fitting earplugs. My dad and I got neon colored ones at the drug store that formed to my ears once we put them in.

-Swim caps might not look the coolest but they'll help. Especially if you put them over the ear plugs.

-Mix equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. After your child has swam all day dry their ears with a towel and lay them on their side. Drop 4-5 drops of this concoction in each ear. Now remember, this is to prevent --not to cure -- so make sure they aren't already suffering from an infection. 

-If your child seems to already be in pain from swimmer's ear (you can usually tell by their crying and screaming when you touch their ear lobes or outer ear canals) then offer some sort of pain reliever and get them to a doctor ASAP! I don't remember exactly what it felt like but apparently I was screaming bloody murder. 

I hope this helps you have a safe and enjoyable summer. Have a great week everyone! See you next time.

-Olivia

Diversity: The Underdog of Audiology

Post By: Olivia Hahn

So often I find myself explaining to people who're somewhat uneducated on the world of hearing health that there is no 'typical' candidate for hearing loss. A common excuse for avoiding a clear issue (the fact that you can't hear or participate in social interactions because of it) is 'I'm too young and only old people need your help'. Not true. Another thing particular to HCC that I've noticed is that we are assumed to only help people in extreme poverty. Also not true. 

I was speaking with Cindy, our fabulous patient care coordinator, about how there is this image in general of someone with hearing loss being older, I'd say 65+, and especially all of our patients being 65+ and really struggling financially. She asked me if I were to describe our HCC population in one word, what would that word be? Naturally I sat there dumb founded, unable to get my creative juices flowing. I asked her what word she would use and she replied with, "Diverse." Wow. Imagine that. People with hearing loss being all shapes and sizes, coming from different cultures, all different ages (our patients range from 3 weeks old to 102 years old to clear that up), special needs, hearing aid users, cochlear implant users, FM system users for the classroom, people in poverty, retirees, university faculty, veterans, etc. 

One day spent at HearCare Connection and minds will be blown by the cold hard fact that every person is different that needs our services. Every person needs different things and needs taken care of in different ways. Not everyone in our realm of service is 75 years old with hearing aids. I think that's what I love about the profession. It's so much deeper and so much more individualized to each and every client than most people in the world think. This is why I want to pursue audiology, because I want to make sure that everyone in my life and my community know just how important hearing health is and just how diverse this profession can be! 

There is no physical attribute, no mental norm, no financial status, no range of age that contributes to an image of a 'typical' candidate for hearing help. There's honestly no such thing. This can reflect on one of my first blogs about how our profession can be repulsive to others because hearing health has a bad reputation. It's associated with getting old and let's be honest no one wants to get old. I love my grandma more than anything in this world and sometimes I wear a cotton nightgown to bed but do I want to be old? Not really. So please people, I'm begging you (and so is my staff) get this image out of your brains! Realize the difference we can make in your lives, in your family's lives, and reach out to us! If you don't qualify for our services then reach out elsewhere! 

Diversity in the hearing world, and especially in HCC's world, is a very real thing. Audiology is up and coming, it's dynamic, it's always changing! There is so much we can do for others based on our knowledge and technology tools. We can help a high school kid hear his teacher better in the classroom thus giving him a better opportunity to learn. We can help a mother interact with her children on a more intimate level. We can do this, we can do that... so let us! Get this negative and narrow-minded image out of heads around your community and start promoting hearing help to all people, TODAY! 

I <3 AUDIOLOGY! (I know I'm a nerd) Have a great week everyone.

-Olivia

 

Taking a Step Back

Posy By: Olivia Hahn

Everyday at HCC we get new patients that come with different backgrounds and various reasons why they strolled through our doors in the first place. Every person is different, wanting different things, and seeking different satisfaction. Once we've helped these individuals we check up with them days or months later to see how they're doing and if we've made the impact we'd hoped to make. Upon doing so we document the changes in their lives and what their starting point was to their present standing. This document is called a POSI (Patient Observation of Service and Improvement). So today I'm going to share with you some of my favorites.

Mark, a musician in his 60's, used to love the sound of guitar and his electric drum set. He used to own several businesses, but with his diabetes and hearing issues he couldn't keep up and lost it all. He came to HCC hoping to find an out for his unfortunate scenario. A friend gave him the remaining balance for his hearing aids as a Christmas gift while Mark himself volunteered by giving meals to shut-ins to compensate for his community service portion of payment. "I would never have been able to get hearing aids and hear again without HCC. I have not heard in 6 years. A lot of things are going to be different for me now and it will all be improved." -Mark

Kati, a mother of 4, was a new user of hearing aids at the age of 30. She stated at her first appointment that she was hoping to reconnect with one of her sons again. Volunteering did that for her. She took her family to the animal shelter to pet puppies for their community service hours. They loved participating in this as a family so much they continue to do it every Sunday. They even adopted a rescue themselves. "I was just so excited to get in my car and hear the radio again. Never would I have dreamed we would've reconnected as a family! Thank you so much HCC for helping us this way." –Kati

William, once a lonely man, feels comfortable again in his own skin with the desire to reach out to others now in his 70's. He has needed new hearing aids for years and has recently been fit with a pair. Upon activation of his new aids, he was speechless. He expressed concerns of falling into depression and removing himself from the contact of others due to frustration with his hearing loss. He claims now that he genuinely wants to call his friends and get dinner with them. “I’m so proud to have someone care for me the way you all do. This has changed my desire to be alone and I have HearCare Connection to thank.” –William.

Sometimes as health professionals, we don’t realize the actual impact we make on others’ lives. I enjoy reading these documentations of success and well-being, knowing that the organization I spend my time with is providing these services! These are 3 of many POSI’s we’ve collected throughout past appointments. It brings us all on a more personal level with each individual when they walk through our doors and that is a gift in itself! Have a great week everyone. Take a step back to dwell on the things you’re thankful for and the people that have made a difference in your life. Have a good one and God bless! 

-Olivia

An Ode to a Wonderful Teacher

Post By: Olivia Hahn 

As a student in the realm of professionals I am given the opportunity to learn from the best. I stand by Dr. Tina Sheehan's side everyday and silently gather information on physical techniques, ways to converse with patients, strategies on how to administer tests, etc. Coming to HearCare Connection has absolutely been a blessing and I've been learning everything I was expecting to concerning the technicalities of becoming an audiologist. I've also learned things that I think are just as important as the mechanics of this occupation that don't often get a light shined on them. Tina has an excellent reputation for caring about patients and applying herself beyond the black and white tasks of her job. She's taught me many things of course but there are some things that I will be taking away from her and HCC that I wasn't expecting to when I first stepped into this office.

The first being the importance of doctor/patient relationships and the value of community outreach. Watching Tina perform the duties as an audiologist is exceptional in itself but the real lesson to be learned is to form a bond and a trust between herself and who she is helping as well as the community around her. Her interaction with patients can be somewhat mesmerizing in the sense of understanding and respect she gives to each and every person that walks through our doors. To say that she makes you feel welcomed in this office is an understatement. Her giving nature leads us into the community by involving us in numerous health fair screenings and expos giving out information about ourselves to those who don't know the wonders of HCC yet. This in turn brings more people into our comforting atmosphere at HearCare. Everybody wins!

The second thing I've learned is that although I am an intern, patients and members of the community that I help beyond the office hang on every word that I say. They trust that I know what I'm doing and unless Tina introduces me as her student intern (which she does every now and again) patients believe I am just as qualified as a professional. I have Dr. Tina to thank for this because she allows me to spread my wings in the office and take over numerous types of appointments. Let's just say she kicked me out of the nest early. But throughout this experience she has taught me to be meticulous in what I say and do because although I don't necessarily think about it because I am still in the learning process, patients take exactly what I say seriously and to heart. I now know what a powerful responsibility this is and exactly how to approach people on an individual basis. 

The last thing that has truly stuck out to me is the fact that everyday is typical for us but is a huge day in the lives of whatever guests walk through that door. We have a routine when we walk into the office every morning where we turn on equipment, make our cup of coffee, and check our emails. I look over Cindy's shoulder to read what charts are prepared for the day and see if we have any 'cool' appointments scheduled. In reality, every appointment is extremely important because every appointment and every patient has a story of why they are here in the first place. For some, this is their first experience concerning hearing loss and that can be a scary thing. I'm sure you've found a robotic and factory-like environment in other doctor's offices but not here. Not a HearCare Connection. To remain respectful, to move patiently, and to be uplifting are virtues that Tina has taught me because although this seems small and routine to us, it can be confusing and  mean the world to someone else. 

So as I move onto a professional education and eventually the big, bad world I will carry these lessons with me. If I can have a fraction of the awesome reputation that Tina has made for herself then I'm going to be in great shape! So Tina if you're reading this, which I'm sure you are, thanks for everything that you do not only for me but for our HCC family and the Northeast Indiana community. I'm ecstatic to continue learning the rest of the summer so stay tuned HCC followers! Have a wonderful week.

-Olivia