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Why Don’t More People Check Their Hearing on a Regular Basis?

We are always surprised that there are so many people out there who don’t hear well, but also don’t do anything about it. We are curious, why don’t more people get their hearing checked regularly? Is this supposed to be almost a duplicate paragraph of the first one?

We had to investigate:

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that there are 28 million people in the United States who are deaf or hard of hearing.

They also estimate that only about 6 million of those people wear hearing aids. That leaves approximately 22 million people who suffer from hearing loss, but aren’t doing anything about it.

It is entirely possible that they don’t even realize that they aren’t hearing well anymore, and it goes without saying that they obviously are not having their hearing checked regularly, or even at all.

Why? They have to know that they aren’t hearing everything, don’t they?

Actually, they might not. That’s the number one reason that people don’t have their hearing checked; they haven’t yet come to the realization that there is a problem. They aren’t actively refusing – they just legitimately don’t know.

Which brings us to the next reason…active denial.

These folks realize they don’t hear well, but they don’t think it actually affects them or those around them. They may think it’s not bad enough to get checked yet. They may not want to be a burden to their loved ones. They may just be refusing to face facts. In any case, they aren’t quite ready to get checked.

Cost is a large factor for many people.

They don’t think they can afford a hearing assessment and they are worried that the cost of the hearing aids will be more than they can afford. This leads to just ignoring the problem, because what does it matter if you can’t hear if you can’t pay for hearing aids? Additionally, more and more insurance companies are covering part or all of the hearing evaluation – and we do the billing for you!

The good news on this one is that we offer a complimentary initial consultation that includes a free screening.  We will bill your insurance for you. More and more insurance companies are covering part or all of the hearing evaluation.  Last but not least, we offer payment options. We are more than happy to help our clients navigate the entire process, something that not all clinics are able or willing to do.

Vanity is another big factor.

Some people just refuse to wear hearing aids because they imagine the large external devices of the last century. Luckily, there are new devices that are basically undetectable. Come on in, and we can show you just how small they come these days.

For most people, hearing loss is a gradual thing. It starts with needing the television a little louder. Or asking people to repeat themselves.

If you are experiencing this or any other sign that you might not be hearing as well as you used to, please come see us.

We’d love to help you improve your hearing and by extension, your quality of life. Give us a call and schedule a complimentary, initial consultation today.

We can’t wait to help you gain a better hearing lifestyle.  Here at Treasure Valley Hearing & Balance, we are committed to better hearing and committed to you! Contact us today and schedule an appointment.

Posted by Admin

Are Audiobooks Good for the Brain & Your Hearing?

With the prevalence of book clubs, commutes and workouts – there is an ever-increasing rise in the use of Audiobooks. What we are wondering is, are they good for your brain and your hearing?

Here’s what we found.

As far as your hearing goes, listening to audiobooks is the same as listening to anything else. As long as you keep the volume at a reasonable level and give your ears a rest now and then, there is no harm in listening to an audiobook.

But when it comes to brain function – it’s not only NOT harmful, it’s actually very helpful!

It’s a proven fact that listening to audiobooks helps children develop better listening skills, longer attention spans and increases their capacity to focus.

The truth is, though, that it works no matter what age you are.

Wearing hearing aids while listening to an audiobook is an excellent way to work on listening at your own pace.

Audiobooks allow you to multitask.

Now, we are not suggesting that you listen to an audiobook while you do something that requires extreme focus – like brain surgery – but when you are driving, or going for a brisk stroll, why not fill the time with a story or book that might change the way you look at life?

Some people learn better by listening.

Many people are auditory learners – meaning they learn better when they hear than when they see. For this part of the population, hearing a book works better for them than reading it.

It’s easier to imagine when you are listening than when you are reading.

Whether you are deciphering words, or hearing and imagining a picture – your brain is working, so one isn’t necessarily better than the other as far as actual brain function goes. But when it comes to really experiencing a story, hearing it might actually be better.

A study done in the 80’s showed that your brain uses the same function to decipher words as it does to imagine a picture when hearing. This means that when the visual bits of our brain are busy taking in the written word, there’s less of them available for creating an image of the content.

Our point is – you might actually get a better experience from listening to a book than reading.

Back to our original question – Are Audiobooks good for the brain and/or your hearing?

The short answer is that as long as you keep the volume at an acceptable level, it certainly won’t harm your hearing. And as we saw, it can really help both brain function and listening skills. So if you prefer audiobooks, stick with them.

If you are experiencing signs that you might not be hearing those audiobooks as well as you used to, please come see us.

We’d love to help you improve your hearing and by extension, your quality of life. Give us a call and schedule a complimentary, initial consultation today.

We can’t wait to help you gain a better hearing lifestyle.  Here at Treasure Valley Hearing & Balance, we are committed to better hearing and committed to you! Contact us today and schedule an appointment.

Posted by Admin

Hearing Aids Are Tax Deductible

As the filing deadline looms large, you may be gathering those final details, including receipts for your deductions. Did you purchase hearing aids last year? If so, you’re in luck! Hearing aids are tax deductible if you itemize your medical deductions on your federal income taxes. In fact, the savings includes hearing-related costs for you, your spouse and your dependents. As with most things related to taxes, there are some caveats. We’ve gathered some of the most relevant information for you. And if you’ve already filed, keep this in mind as you plan medical spending for 2018, so you’re ready next year.

To deduct or not to deduct – that is the first question

Not sure if you can deduct your hearing aids? To start, you must decide if you will itemize your medical expenses or not. If you don’t itemize your deductions, then you can’t take advantage of this savings. However, if you have significant medical expenses, it might be worth it for you or your family to do so this year. For the next two years, if you spend more than 7.5% of your income on medical expenses1, you can deduct medical costs from your insurance. (Previously, the threshold had been 10%.) Some years, itemizing may make more sense than others. If you have invested in hearing aids and had other significant medical expenses, such as a hospital stay or surgery where you paid a portion of the cost, this may be the right year to deduct these expenses.

What can you deduct?

According to TurboTax2, the following hearing-related expenses can be deducted:

  • Hearing aids, batteries, maintenance costs and repairs
  • Equipment to link your phone, including phones with special ringers, captioned phones and teleprinters. If you had to pay for repairs, this is covered, too.
  • Televisions and related accessories that amplify sound, provide closed captions and their repair costs
  • A guide dog, including veterinary, grooming and food expenses
  • Wiring your home with special smoke detectors, doorbells and burglar alarms

Keep this in mind when considering hearing aids as a tax deduction

For many of us, doing your taxes can be confusing. If you are doing your own, here are a few tips:

  • When itemizing your taxes, use Form 1040 Schedule A – Itemized Deductions.3
  • The IRS offers an Interactive Tax Assistant online tool to help you figure out what expenses are deductible.
  • Remember to keep all of your receipts!

Of course, we are not tax experts, and highly advise you to bring specific financial questions to your tax advisor or an accountant.

Need more information on medical expenses and taxes?

You may wonder what counts as a medical expense. Another great source for information is the IRS’s information page on medical and dental expenses.3 If you have a person in your household, such as a parent or child, who purchased hearing aids last year, you can only deduct these costs if you claim this person as a dependent on your taxes – even if you paid for the hearing aids.

Already filed your taxes? No worries – there’s always next year

If you are a first-time hearing aid wearer or you are looking to upgrade, remember to save your receipts, because before you know it, you’ll need them for next year’s filing. If you know you will have significant medical expenses coming soon, this might be a good year to spring for the latest technological advances. That way, Uncle Sam can pay you back next year. For more information on the latest in high-tech hearing aids, give us a call at (208) 519-4552.

Posted by Admin

No big deal: Ending the stigma of hearing loss

It’s no big deal! Really. After all, it’s 2018. So isn’t it time that we end the stigma related to wearing hearing aids and hearing loss? Since inclusion has become pervasive in today’s society, why not let go of any negative images of hearing loss? Here at Treasure Valley Hearing & Balance we know that people of any age can have hearing loss and that wearing hearing aids is a smart solution to a challenge. Let’s all let go of any negative associations to hearing loss.

Not just “old people” have hearing loss

Some people equate wearing hearing aids with old age, but it simply isn’t true. Plenty of young people have hearing loss and use hearing aids or implants. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that 2-3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with some hearing loss.1 Schools across the country, from pre-school through high school, make accommodations to “mainstream” students with hearing loss, and several colleges offer programs specifically for students with hearing loss.

Why is there a stigma? Self-perception, ageism and vanity

Even though many younger people have it, hearing loss continues to be thought of as something only old people experience. It isn’t. Nor is it anything to be embarrassed about. Yet, recent research shows that stigma remains an issue. In 2010, The Gerontologist conducted research focused on stigma and hearing loss, and how these may impact an individual’s decision to wear hearing aids. The researchers found that perceived stigma did make a difference in whether people with hearing loss accepted hearing aids and how well they adapted to them.2 People in the study expressed concerns about being seen as old, or worried that people may stare at them if they were wearing hearing aids. But this isn’t new. The study noted that the concept of stigma dates back to the ancient Greeks, and that people labeled stigma to alterations in self-perception, ageism and vanity.

Society has changed rapidly over the last decade

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans have improved their view of people with disabilities,3 especially since 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act became law. People’s viewpoints have changed. But assistive technologies, such as hearing aids, play an integral role in helping people with challenges integrate fully into society. Getting to know people with hearing loss, seeing how well they manage with hearing aids at home, work and in the community, helps break down any residual stigma.

Hearing loss is an invisible disability

You can’t see if someone has hearing loss, so sometimes it’s hard to tell if they struggle to hear you. A hearing aid may be the only clue. Hearing aid manufactures understand that aesthetics count. Sometimes hearing aids are so well-hidden that they’re even invisible. Others have a sleek design, available in many colors, including a variety of skin-tones. Some people choose to flaunt the latest in hearing aids designs and pick bolder colors, like blues or pinks. And why not? We think that hearing aids are nothing to hide!

Why break the stigma?

Hearing loss advocate, Shari Eberts, recently wrote in Psychology Today that the time has come to end the stigma of hearing loss. She lists multiple avenues you can follow to break the stigma of hearing loss. She encourages the public to do the following:

      “Get your hearing tested as part of your annual medical screening and encourage your friends and family to do the same.”
      “If you have hearing loss, treat it.”
      “If you have hearing aids, wear them.”
      “Speak up about your hearing loss”4

We agree that all of these things can help the public understand hearing loss and improve their own well-being.

Want more information on ending stigmas, accepting hearing loss and finding the best options for you?

Whether you are a “newbie” to hearing loss or have been facing hearing loss for decades, we can help you choose the best solution for your individual needs. We understand that first-time wearers may go through a process to get used to hearing aids, and our experienced team know how to help acclimate you to wearing your new devices. Want to learn more? Make a no-obligation appointment. Should you need hearing aids, we will help you find the right design for your ears. Call (208) 519-4552 to book time with us.

Posted by Admin

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