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The Bend Oregon Hearing Tech Expo

Pacific Northwest Audiology had a full house in attendance at our Hearing Tech Expo on Wednesday, Feb 8, at the Mount Bachelor Village Conference Center.

Event Collage

Dr. Li began the day with a very well received talk on age-related hearing loss (her PhD thesis at the world renowned Karolinska Institutet in Sweden). The Doctor also reviewed new scientific studies which strongly linked untreated hearing loss and dementia. 

Dr. Odgear, also from Pacific Northwest Audiology, was the second batter, and he knocked it out of the ball park with his talk on hearing trends and the future of hearing tech. 

We convened for a hot lunch buffet, which consisted of Brisket of Beef Au Jus, baked beans, potato salad and a creamy coleslaw.  According to my polling, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the buffet!

We shook things up after lunch and reconvened in an adjacent room, which we had set up for interactive tech activities, led by Dr. Muto-Coleman from Resound. By the end of the session, everyone was able to put the pieces together…the past, present, and future of hearing tech.

Our next event will be the third week of May. Call Kat for early details at 541-678-5698

“Unlock Your Hearing” On October 15 With Pacific Northwest Audiology and Starkey

Big Shew Pic 2

Pacific Northwest Audiology and Starkey Hearing Technologies will present “How To Unlock Your Hearing” on October 14, 2015, at the Hampton Inn and Suites, in Bend Oregon. This event will be free to the public…with important information on Tinnitus and the medical, emotional, and social consequences of untreated hearing loss, presented by leading Audiologists. The event will include a lunch buffet, special service deals, & a Kindle Fire raffle.

We have Limited seating so you must register at 541-678-5698. Don’t miss out…registration will close on Monday at 5 PM!

See more information on the following video:

 

Hearing Loss Linked to Dementia

A Cautionary Tale

Mounting evidence has established a  strong link between untreated hearing loss and diminished cognitive function, including dementia. Studies also link untreated hearing loss to other medical and emotional problems, including depression.

This is a cautionary tale, but a light shines brightly to guide our passage away from danger: Hearing Loss Can End Badly—but we have options!

First, the bad news. Mounting evidence has established a strong link between untreated hearing loss (HL) and diminished cognitive function, accelerated mental decline, rapid rates of brain tissue loss, and other disabling conditions, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. People who don’t hear well tend to withdraw from social activities, and that can lead to depression and early mortality.

The link between HL and dementia is reinforced by statistical and brain scan studies from hearing and social neuroscience research, and backed by compelling theories for how HL promotes dementia.

Dr. Frank Lin from John Hopkins Medicine has identified three primary pathways to dementia and other bad health outcomes:

  1. HL increases the cognitive load on the brain. Struggling to understand speech causes the brain to focus on sound processing at the expense of memory, thinking, and learning processes. Robbing Peter to pay Paul leads to a cascade of bad consequences, leaving seniors vulnerable to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Even mild HL hastens brain tissue loss, and seniors with untreated hearing problems are much more susceptible to brain tissue loss and other unwanted brain structural changes than seniors with normal hearing. This is significant because the brain tissue loss occurs where memory and sensory integration are processed, causing a negative feedback loop that leaves seniors vulnerable to dementia.
  3. People who can’t hear well tend to avoid social engagement. This puts them at a higher risk for becoming socially isolated, lonely, and depressed—and that exposes them to a perfect storm for developing dementia and early death.

Now the good news: new research just published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society by researchers at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research in Bordeaux, France found that hearing aids reduce the threat of accelerated cognitive decline. The Bordeaux study revealed that elderly people with HL who used hearing aids were spared the augmented levels of cognitive decline suffered by others with HL who didn’t use hearing aids.

Social neuroscience research found similar results

Dr. Cacioppo is the Director of the Center for Cognitive & Social Neuroscience and Chair of the Social Psychology Program at the University of Chicago. Decades of research inform the doctor that we are social by design. That means we are hard wired to connect with others. In fact, our need for social interaction is as fundamental as our need for food and water because the consequent social behaviors helped us survive & reproduce.

Highlights from social neuroscience research:

  • Socially connected people are more likely to have good physical health and psychological well-being.
  • People with strong social networks generally live longer. They also have lower rates of anxiety and depression.
  • Forming strong social bonds creates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.
  • Conversely, lack of social bonding often contributes to a negative feedback loop of isolation, deep loneliness, and antisocial behavior, often leading to bad health outcomes for aging adults, including depression and dementia!

But you can’t connect with people if you can’t hear them, so it is vitally important that hearing and communication problems aren’t keeping you from a socially rewarding life.The bottom line? Hearing empowers social health and social health empower life!

See our Brochure on Hearing Loss and Dementia, here

 

Breaking News - Hearing Aids prevent Dementia study

 

Untreated Hearing Loss

The consequences can be severe but treatment offers hope!

Untreated hearing loss has been linked to disabling medical conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and cardiovascular disease. Studies and observational evidence indicate that untreated hearing loss can damage your physical, emotional, and social health and well being.

Your family, friends, and others will not escape these changes. In a very real sense they will share the unwanted consequences of your hearing loss.

The good news is that the worst effects of hearing loss can be moderated with hearing aids, cochlear implants and post-fitting rehabilitation. When people with mild-to-profound hearing loss use hearing aids, they experience less depression, less anxiety, and less emotional stress… while showing significant improvements in their quality of life and well-being.

Given the undesirable consequences of untreated hearing loss, it would be a good idea to get a hearing exam by a well qualified Audiologist, especially if you suspect that you are developing hearing problems. Being more safe than sorry has real meaning when the consequences of inaction are potentially so severe.

See our Brochure on Untreated Hearing Loss, here

The World In Your Hearing Aids!

The World

The days of uncool hearing aids are gone!

and the stigma of hearing loss is settling quickly into the dust of the past. That is because Apple, the symbol of cool consumer electronics, is working with hearing aid manufacturers to pair hearing aids with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch through Bluetooth wireless technology. That’s right…no wires…cool!

But what if you don’t use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch?

Don’t worry! Similar technology can, or soon will achieve the same results with other operating systems, including Android and Windows. Whether it’s streaming audio from Skype calls, a TV, MP3 player, smart phone, or other computing device, or connecting directly to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you can bring the world to your hearing aids…and that is cool!

How is this new technology changing everything?

Control! Traditional hearing aids offered limited user control because the electronics and buttons were restricted to hearing aids the size of a kidney bean. But that has changed with wireless connectivity, which allows hearing aid functions to be managed…without wires…by smart phones and other devices. Cool!

What does this mean to consumers?

Among other things, wireless connections allow users to view battery status, locate their hearing aids, change the settings of their hearing aids, and quickly apply an audiologist’s environmental presets when they enter different acoustic locations. With user controls outside the hearing aids, consumers can also listen to directions from a GPS while driving, participate in phone conversations, listen to music, and use a growing list of additional functions from iOS, Android, and Windows apps. Cool!

The Bottom line?

  • Wireless connections let users adjust their hearing aid settings with a smart phone
  • Connectivity provides apps to improve the lives of people with hearing loss
  • Hearing aids are becoming desirable, even for those who don’t need them
  • The stigma of hearing loss is gone…the future is filled with better hearing opportunities
  • This is very very cool!

Pacific Northwest Audiology Is Leading The Way

Connection productsWhether it’s streaming audio from Skype calls, a TV, MP3 player, smart phone, or other computing device, or connecting directly to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch…we have a solution just for you.

Our Special Holiday Gift through December

  • A special discount and risk free trial for you to sample the future of connectivity
  • Free home support to get you connected with our products
  • We will bring the world to your hearing aids!

 We Bring the WorldThe World in your hearing aids!

Whether it’s streaming video and audio from your TV, phone, or computing devices, or connecting directly to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch…we have a solution just for you.

Pacific Northwest Audiology Attended the Deschutes County Fair and Rodeo

County Fair mag 2014

Pacific Northwest Audiology was a vendor at the Deschutes County Fair and Rodeo from July 30 to August 3rd.

We had a great time interacting with people of all ages…and had an opportunity to answer important hearing health questions for many many people. In addition to interacting with so many wonderful people…we gave away more than 1000 “Chocolate Ears” at the Fair…which should make local area dentists take heed.

And the winners Are…

County Fair Blog Pic

On the last day of the Fair…just pryer to the doors closing for the last time…Pacific Northwest Audiology had a drawing for two Kindle Fire HD tablets. The top left panel of the picture above shows Alex,  from Dream Mattress, drawing the names of the lucky Kindle recipients. The top right panel shows a picture of the conditions outside,  the bottom left panel shows (from left to right) Dr. Li-Korotky, Stephanie Roberts (Office Coordinator), and Ryan O’Clair (Doctor of Audiology Student completing his residency requirements with us), and the bottom right panel shows the Doctor with our Patient Coordinator, David Zeno.

Congratulations to the lucky recipients of Kindles…Amber Brosius and Riley.

We are planning a technology event…which will include information on streaming video and audio from your TV, phone, or computing devices…and a special Lyric Invisible Hearing Aids promotion…near the end of August…so pay attention for updating information.

 

Hearing Loss and Dementia

The Problem

An increasing number of independent scientific studies are showing strong evidence that hearing loss is more than just a nuisance of aging. The message is disturbing: people who experience hearing loss as they age may also have a significantly higher risk of developing cognitive disorders, including dementia. Cognitive function is an intellectual process that allows us to become aware of, perceive, or comprehend ideas. It involves all aspects of perception, thinking, reasoning, and memory.

The Evidence

A 2011 study (Hearing Loss and Incident dementia) was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore in partnership with the National Institute on Aging. Dr. Frank Lin and others found that older adults with hearing loss were more likely to develop cognitive problems than others who retained normal hearing as they aged, and the risk of developing dementia increased with the degree of hearing loss. The study found that people with severe hearing loss were five times more likely to develop cognitive problems, and even mild hearing loss doubled the risk for serious cognitive impairment Las Vegas.

In a follow-up study (Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults, 2013) Dr. Lin and colleagues substantiated that older adults with hearing loss were more likely to develop thinking and memory problems than older adults with normal hearing, and the degree of cognitive degeneration was directly related to the amount of hearing loss. The study found that cognitive capabilities for those with hearing loss declined 30 to 40 percent faster than they did for a group with normal hearing. According to Dr. Lin, The results of the study should prompt an effort to make age-related hearing loss a public health priority.

Other studies indicate that hearing loss accelerates atrophy in auditory areas of the brain, making it more difficult for older adults to comprehend speech. “Your hearing ability directly affects how the brain processes sounds, including speech,” says Dr. Jonathon Peelle, PhD, research associate in the Department of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania. “Preserving your hearing doesn’t only protect your ears, but also helps your brain perform at its best.”

Pathways to Dementia

Although the studies could not determine a direct link from hearing loss to cognitive degeneration, researchers proposed several pathways that could lead from hearing loss to dementia, and these are summarized in the figure. The first pathway (gold arrows) is known as “cognitive load.” As hearing loss progresses, the brain must devote greater resources to auditory processing (speech and sound) at the detriment of thinking and memory. Another pathway (blue arrows) leads from hearing loss to social isolation, prompted by increasing communication difficulties. Social isolation has been well established in previous research as a risk factor for cognitive decline. A third pathway (green arrows) is known as auditory deprivation. When the hearing nerves and regions of the brain responsible for hearing are deprived of sound, they atrophy, a process that can accelerate the onset of dementia. An argument could be made that some other, yet-to-be-determined physiologic factor may serve as a common cause for both hearing loss and dementia, but many researchers agree that there is strong evidence to support a causative link from hearing loss to significant cognitive decline in older adults.

Epilogue

Although we don’t have clear evidence that hearing aids, cochlear implants and other rehabilitative measures will reduce or prevent cognitive degeneration, many clinical researchers are convinced that these interventions improve the lives of their patients. As Dr. Lin noted, “they are able to engage again: they
are no longer isolated.”  So…there are no downsides to treatment…but there may be serious downsides to letting hearing loss go full course!

 

What You Need to Know About Hearing Aids

Introduction

Untreated hearing loss can damage your physical, emotional, and social health and well-being, but studies by the National Council on Aging and the Seniors Research Group indicates that wearing hearing aids can lead to impressive improvements in the social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of people with mild to severe hearing loss.bouncy castle for sale

This document provides essential information on hearing aids…it assumes that a comprehensive audiologic assessment was conducted to:

  • identify the type and extent of hearing loss
  • determine the need for medical/surgical treatment and/or referral to a physician
  • determine the need and motivation for audiologic rehabilitation

Once hearing aids are selected to match the type and degree of hearing loss, lifestyle choices, and budget…they will need to be fitted and adjusted. Successful hearing aid fitting is a complex process and will be covered in a separate document.

Digital Hearing Aids

Digital hearing aids use a microprocessor to convert incoming sounds into digital information. Then they analyze and adjust the sounds to suit a user’s hearing loss characteristics and listening needs. More than 70 % of fitted hearing aids contain Digital Signal Processing (DSP).

Digital hearing aids contain a growing list of hearing-enhancing features. For example, they can suppress background noise so you can hear speech better. They can also detect whether you are in a quiet or noisy environment and automatically adapt to changing conditions. Wireless technology such as Bluetooth can stream desired sounds directly to your hearing aids from many electronic devices, including cell phones, TVs, MP3 players, iPods, computers, GPS devices, FM systems, and more. Current technology trends include truly invisible, extended wear hearing aids, and models with tinnitus management programs. A more thorough discussion of Digital technology can be found here.

Levels of Technology

Digital hearing aids are available with various levels of the technology listed above, each designed to fit specific lifestyles and listening needs. For example, it makes little sense to purchase top-level technology if your lifestyle doesn’t require it. On the other hand, an active social life may dictate a higher technology level. Since higher technology levels are progressively more expensive, many people need to compromise between listening preferences and personal budgets.

Higher technology levels allow greater listening clarity, especially in challenging environments. People with active social lives may require this added flexibility to fully embrace their listening needs. Mid-level technology may be sufficient to fully accommodate the needs of moderately active people. Most people fall into this category. Basic technology will tend to limit speech clarity to relatively quiet environments. Lower technology levels may be more appropriate for less active individuals and/or budget-restricted consumers. A more thorough discussion of hearing aid features vs. lifestyle and cost can be found here.

Hearing Aid Styles

Completely-in-the-canal (CIC)

The smallest hearing aid on the market. It usually requires a “removal string” due to its small size and the fact that it fits so deeply into the canal. Accommodates mild to moderate hearing loss.

In-the-canal (ITC)

This is slightly bigger than the CIC. It provides more options than a CIC. Accommodates mild to moderate hearing loss.

In-the-ear (ITE)

This fills the whole “bowl” of the ear. It may be easier to handle due to the larger size. Accommodates mild to moderately severe hearing loss.

Behind-the-ear (BTE)

The BTE sits behind the ear and transmits sound into the ear canal via an ear mold. One of the more flexible hearing aids. Accommodates mild to profound hearing loss.

BTE Micro

The BTE micro can be open fit or fit with a conventional ear mold. It is micro-sized for greater discretion. Accommodates mild to moderate hearing loss.

Open Fit

A small plastic case rests behind the ear, and a very fine clear tube runs into the ear canal. Inside the ear canal, a small, soft silicone dome or a molded, highly vented acrylic tip holds the tube in place. These aids offer cosmetic and listening advantages and are used typically for adults.

Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE)

With this BTE, the speaker of the hearing aid sits inside the ear canal providing more natural sound. Accommodates mild to severe hearing loss.

Invisible (extended wear) Hearing Aids

These hearing aids are non-surgically placed deep in the ear canal by a qualified audiologist. They are worn continuously for several months at a time without removal and then replaced with new hearing aids.. The devices are made of soft material designed to fit the geometry of the ear. They are very useful for active individuals because their design protects against moisture and earwax, and they can be worn while exercising, showering, and other daily activities.

Let the Buyer Beware

Don’t make a purchasing decision based only on price, stated technology, or emotion. Some of the low priced digital hearing aids cut important corners to reduce their price, by reducing or eliminating most of the benefits of digital technology. Also, you can’t assume high quality merely because a hearing aid is advertised as “digital”. It is possible for an analog hearing aid to produce better hearing quality than a budget digital hearing aid…and that isn’t saying much! On the other hand, high-end, high quality digital hearing aids can create a bad listening experience if they aren’t programmed and fitted correctly, or fine-tuned during follow-up visits.

There is no substitute for a well-qualified Audiologist using state-of- the-art hearing aid fitting technology with effective post-fitting counseling!

The Bottom Line

Hearing aids have become smaller and less conspicuous while offering an array of advanced features such as digital signal processing, automatic switching between listening programs, adaptive directional microphones, noise management, and remote controls. Some of these features are for convenience and ease of use, while others are designed to improve your speech understanding or listening comfort. An audiologist will work with you to find the best hearing aids for your degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and personal financial goals. Information eGuides from the Better Hearing Institute can be found here

About the Author: Dr. Ha-Sheng Li-Korotky is the President and co-founder of Pacific Northwest Audiology (www.pnwaudiology.com), based in Bend, Oregon (see back inside cover). The Doctor is a nationally acclaimed clinician and research scientist, with AuD, PhD, and MD credentials and more than 100 scientific publications.

Need Hearing Care? Choose A Business Model!

Audiology Business Models

Introduction

You may not be aware of it…but when you choose a hearing provider you are also choosing a business model. One model works off the proposition that profits alone are the bottom line for generating future profitability. This model is exemplified by “Big Box” stores such as Costco and a legion of minimally trained hearing aid dispensers. The competing business model proposes that customer satisfaction drives customer loyalty…and customer loyalty drives profitability and growth. This business model is typified by audiologists trained in an end-to-end process of patient-centered hearing care. The following paragraphs will show that business model implementations are strongly related to the education requirements necessary to lawfully provide various audiological services. Well credentialed audiologists can pursue a full course of professional services…but less credentialed hearing aid dispensers are legally bound to a limited set of services focusing on the sale of hearing aids East Inflatables.

Audiologists

Audiologists must earn a Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree. This requires 4 years of undergraduate study in Communication Sciences (speech and hearing) and an additional 4 years of specialized academic work, including high-level training in the prevention, identification, assessment, and treatment of hearing disorders. Their extensive academic credentials, professional certification, and licensure, allow audiologists to provide a full range of patient-centered care, including a thorough patient assessment, comprehensive diagnostic tests, treatment options, and post-fitting counseling. Profit is important to independent audiologists but it doesn’t generally dictate the patient process. Many of the diagnostic and counseling efforts that define the standard of patient-centered care offer low-profit margins compared to hearing aid sales…but these are critical elements of comprehensive hearing care. Take away any of the links in the patient-centered chain and you also disrupt the process of end-to-end care.

Hearing Aid Dispensers

By contrast, hearing aid dispensers, (AKA hearing aid specialists), can recommend, select, or adapt hearing aids and may alter, adjust or reconstruct hearing aid specifications for functionality, such as taking ear impressions for proper fit. Hearing aid dispensers can sell hearing aids in many states if they have a high school diploma or GED Certificate, pass a license exam, complete a brief apprenticeship with a licensed hearing aid specialist, and earn continuing education credits (usually from correspondence courses). The reduced requirements for hearing aid dispensers has led to a proliferation of clinics staffed by individuals with superficial training whose primary lawful focus is hearing aid sales…not audiological services.

ENT Physicians

An increasing number of Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) physicians are using audiology as a supplementary service to boost their bottom line profits. This is accomplished by hiring audiologists and/or dispensers to administer basic audiological exams, often with dated equipment, to support their surgical requirements. Since ENT physicians focus on surgical solutions, you shouldn’t expect broad audiological support at an ENT clinic.

Corporate Hearing Centers

The market for treating hearing disorders is expanding. In response…the number of corporate hearing centers is also increasing. Why is this important? Because corporate hearing centers (many owned by hearing aid manufacturers) are motivated by bottom-line profits, and these profits are achieved through hearing aid sales…not diagnostic or rehabilitative services. Large corporations are purchasing independent practices across the country, often stripping them of important diagnostic capabilities, and staffing their new hearing centers with non-audiology staff, including hearing aid dispensers.

“Big Box” Stores

Using the power of their marketing wealth, corporate retail giants like Costco are repositioning hearing care as a commodity based solution. These stores are typically staffed by hearing aid dispensers, and their business model is dominated by profit concerns...so don’t expect a full range of audiological services at any of these Big Box giants.

The Bottom Line

Hearing aid dispensers and audiologists are both licensed to fit and program hearing aids…but that is where the similarities end. There’s a vast difference in education and training requirements between Doctors of Audiology and hearing aid specialists. This training edge allows audiologists to pursue a rigorous process of professional diagnosis, treatment (including hearing aid fitting, programming and verification), and rehabilitation. In contrast, most hearing aid dispensers work for large corporations such as Costco, and must, by law, concentrate their efforts on a narrow range of services, including hearing aid sales, fitting, and programing. It is important to understand that corporations are motivated to control the distribution of hearing care, and profit margins dictate their treatment process. They are not in the business of marketing comprehensive audiological services to consumers or exclusively using audiologists as their providers. They are “bottom liners” so they are in the business of selling hearing aids.

Choose Your Business Model

There’s an ongoing struggle between opposing business philosophies to define the scope and practice of hearing care. Most Audiologists believe hearing care should be patient-centered and managed by Doctors of Audiology. This business model emphasizes an end-to-end process of professional services, including consultation and diagnosis, hearing aid fitting and programming, validation of hearing aid functions with advanced technology such as Speech Mapping, and post-fitting counseling and rehabilitation. The opposing business model is much more focused on high profit margin sales, and is represented by hearing aid dispensers, hearing aid manufacturers, and retail giants such as Costco. Under this business model, hearing care is managed primarily by non-audiologists and hearing aid sales defines their bottom line …often at the expense of professional audiological services. Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) practices are also in the mix, as they increasingly train technicians to perform basic audiometric and vestibular testing under minimal supervision to support their primary focus of surgery. So…if you need hearing care…choose your business model!

About the Author

Dr. Ha-Sheng Li-Korotky is the President and co-founder of Pacific Northwest Audiology (www.pnwaudiology.com), based in Bend, Oregon. The Doctor is a nationally acclaimed clinician and research scientist, with AuD, PhD, and MD credentials and more than 100 scientific publications.

Bend Area Residents Invited to Invisible Hearing Aids Information Party

Pacific Northwest Audiology and Lyric will highlight invisible hearing aid technology on Oct 30…from 10 am to 5 pm…and you’re invited.

This will be an information-rich party…we will provide food, drinks, and great prizes…including Bose® QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones, special product discounts, and professional service giveaways.

Kevin Haslam from Lyric will present important information on invisible hearing aid technology in the morning…then we will offer certificates for 30 day risk-free trials of Lyric Invisible Hearing Aids. Lyric is the industry leader in this exciting new technology so this will be a great chance for you to interact with experts to get all of your questions answered.

A day of learning, interaction, and opportunity…hope to see you there!

See the video…below

Call us at 541-678-5698 to RSVP. You can also book an appointment online for a free trial.

This is a risk-free opportunity for you to experience a life changing technology!