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Untreated Hearing Loss Can Strain Relationships With Loved Ones,
But There Is Hope
Hearing loss is much more common than most people realize. In fact, it is such a prevalent condition that only arthritis and hypertension affect more people. If left untreated, the consequences of hearing loss can be severe and greatly impact the quality of life and personal relationships of those affected. Worst of all, it can end up hurting you and the ones you love.
Whether you are a spouse, a caregiver or a friend of someone with hearing loss, coping with the condition can be difficult. Communication may become greatly hindered, causing you to speak and share less with your loved one. It can also lead to less involvement in social activities and increased feelings of depression or sadness.
"Before my husband found the right treatment for his hearing loss, we found ourselves leaving early from social events or declining them altogether," says Sherree Listwa of her relationship with husband Howard Listwa. "Hearing all day at work and then again on the weekends for social events was too tiring for Howard. It was a little depressing for both of us as we had three busy sons and many social invitations."
According to the Better Hearing Institute, a large number of people wait 15 years or more from the point when they first recognize they have a hearing loss to when they purchase their first hearing aids. Once they take this step, it may take another several years of being unhappy with hearing aids for them to realize that they are not the only option. The good news is that there is another solution that can medically treat more substantial degrees of hearing loss.
"In 2008, after years of using the best and most powerful hearing aids, Howard's audiologist began to mention the possibility of a cochlear implant," says Listwa. "However, it wasn't until 2010 that Howard became serious about looking into the technology. The breaking point came when we observed someone with two cochlear implants in a noisy restaurant, talking and enjoying their meal. We knew that day that there was help and hope."
A cochlear implant is life-changing technology proven to help adults with severe to profound hearing loss, which is commonly known as "nerve deafness." Unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, cochlear implants bypass damaged parts of the inner ear and directly stimulate the hearing nerve to provide sound signals to the brain.
"Following Howard's cochlear implant in December 2010, there were immediate changes in his ability to hear and in our ability to participate in everyday things that most people take for granted," says Listwa. "We now enjoy socializing, going to concerts and have even made some new friends. Howard is also involved in playing his cello again and is able to read stories to our granddaughter. He says he has 'gotten his life back' and that's true for me as well."
Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants are covered by Medicare, most private health insurance plans, and may be covered by Medicaid. Additionally, the cochlear implant evaluation is typically covered by most insurance companies.
"Howard wishes that he had looked into a cochlear implant earlier so he could have enjoyed the social life he now realizes he was missing. Our advice to anyone who is a candidate and is able to have the surgery is to go for it - you have everything to gain!"
To learn more and to find a cochlear implant clinic near you, visit www.Cochlear.com/US. If you would like to speak to someone who has a cochlear implant about their personal experience, call 1-800-483-3123 or email Concierge@Cochlear.com.
Five Easy Stress Reducers
Stress is a part of our life. Stress can be positive, as the impetus to make us work well under pressure, or it can be negative, leading to depression, anxiety, heart disease and more.
Stress is difficult for scientists to define as it is so different for each individual. Stress can be loosely defined as the way that your body reacts to negative forces. How does your body manage the fight or flight instinct?
Stress plays a role in nearly all disease and can affect all parts of the body. There are direct links to stress in heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and gastrointestinal distress. Other medical conditions such as cancer and chronic pain can cause additional stress.
Stress can also be caused by our interpersonal relationships, money, work or no longer working, and marital health. If so many things cause stress then, what can we do to control it, rather than allowing it to control us?
Smile for 90 Seconds
Smiling is a powerful stress reducer both for you, and the people that you smile at. It can be difficult to smile when your situation or mood does not seem to warrant a smile, but a smile is amazingly therapeutic. Even if you have to fake a smile, you may find that if you hold it for 90 seconds or so (which can seem like a very long time) you will find yourself feeling less anxious. The effect that your smile has on others will be just as therapeutic, have you tried not to smile at someone who smiles at you? It is nearly impossible, which is why we refer to smiles as contagious.
Take a Deep Breath
This cliche advice, when administered correctly, is actually a very effective form of stress relief Deep breaths can release tension and toxins from the body. Shallow breathing, which we often do when faced with a stressful situation actually limits oxygen intake and adds stress.
It is helpful to practice what is known as “4-7-8 Breathing” in which you inhale to the count of four through your nose, hold your breath until the count of seven, and exhale slowly through your mouth to the count of eight. The slow exhale is key to stress reduction.
Mini Self Massage
The following self massage tips come from the University of Minnesota Extension Service and can be done quickly and easily by nearly anyone.
The first is a mini scalp massage. Place your thumbs behind your ears and spread your fingers over your scalp. Slowly move your scalp back and forth while making small circles with your fingertips.
The next is for your face. Close your eyes and place your ring fingers directly under your eyebrows, near the bridge of your nose. Increase pressure for about five seconds and then release. Repeat two or three times.
Now we will massage your shoulders. Place your left hand on your right shoulder, press your fingers firmly into the muscle, tuck your chin to your chest and exhale, hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Relax That Jaw
Many people store stress in various locations on the body, such as the neck shoulders, and most commonly, the jaw. A tense jaw can lead to headache, tooth grinding, and TMJ. None of these conditions are mood enhancers. It helps to constantly remind yourself to relax your jaw, especially during stressful situations. Smiling helps a lot!
Stop and Daydream
Daydreaming is how children cope with stress. and it can be effective for you as well. If you find stress becoming overwhelming. take a moment to picture the face of your newborn grandson, or the last great vacation you took, or the next great one that you are planning. A momentary time out can give you just the break you need!
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