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The National Campaign for Better Hearing

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Have money left in your FSA? Spend it before it’s too late

If you are an employee with a Flexible Spending Account, you might want to double check your balance. Now may be a smart time to take care of your hearing healthcare needs, especially if you are one of the 48 million Americans1 with hearing loss. You can use your FSA for hearing aids, and if you hurry, you can still purchase with this year’s funds.

Why are FSAs important?

Many employers offer a Flexible Spending Account2 (FSA) as part of their benefits package. Sometimes referred to as a Health Flexible Spending Arrangement, an FSA is an account in which you place pre-tax dollars to cover medical expenses. FSAs save you money by allowing you to withhold pre-tax money from your pay, up to $2,600 per year.

Who can you buy for, and what does it cover?

These funds can be used for yourself, your spouse and your dependents throughout the calendar year. They can be used for:

  • Copayments
  • Deductibles
  • Medical and dental costs
  • Some medicines
  • Other health-related spending, including hearing aids

Why the urgency? Because FSA is “use it or lose it!”

Although you can spend the money on a wide array of medical services, medicines and medical expenses, unfortunately, it is “use it or lose it” money. You must spend the money within the calendar year. Although some programs have a grace period, others require you to spend all dollars by December 31st.

Can I use my FSA spending on my parents’ hearing aids?

Maybe, but only if you claim them as dependents on your tax return. Even if your parents live with you, they may not be your dependents, and therefore you cannot use FSA monies toward their healthcare. The same applies for your children. If you claim them on your taxes, you can cover certain medical expenses using FSA funds.

Looking ahead

Thinking about 2018? If your benefits package offers an FSA program, remember to elect to contribute funds next year. Check your employer’s open enrollment dates. If they are still open and you haven’t taken advantage of this tax savings, it may be the right option for you. Also, if you change jobs, you may be allowed to join outside of the enrollment period.

Don’t have a flexible spending program? We have options, too

Even if you don’t have this option, there are ways to keep hearing aids affordable. CareCredit® is a financing program for health-related costs that may help you pay over time.

Contact us for more information on hearing healthcare

Hearing healthcare is vital to your well-being. Find out if you are a candidate for hearing aids with our free hearing assessment*. Call Audiology Associates of Georgia at (770) 769-1805 to learn more.

Posted by Admin

Preparing for holiday gatherings with hearing loss

Whether you are preparing to host an event this coming holiday season or are attending an impromptu gathering of friends, this is an important time to catch up with loved ones. But what if hearing loss poses a challenge for communicating?

When people gather it can be noisy. Especially if many people are speaking at the same time. Add in holiday music, restaurant chatter or a football game on in the background, and even people with excellent hearing may have trouble understanding a conversation with someone standing next to them.

If you follow these tips, it may be easier to catch up with loved ones and enjoy their company.

Pick a good place to hear at holiday events

Whether you are in a home or a restaurant, try to position yourself in a space with less background noise. Follow these tips:

  • Flooring and walls – Carpeting, tablecloths and drapery help to absorb noise.
  • Pick the right room – In a home, try to avoid the kitchen or areas near the TV. If you are in a restaurant, ask for a seat away from the kitchen or bar.
  • Avoid the amplifiers – Although you can’t always get away from blaring music, try to be as far from speakers as possible. Corners or booths can provide some relief.
  • Try for 1:1 conversations – If you really want to catch every word, there is nothing wrong with finding a quieter spot in the hallway, or even outside for one-on-one conversations.

Arrive early to choose the best seat in the house

When choosing your seat, try to be where you can see people’s faces – that way you can pick up on facial cues. Try to sit where there is good lighting. If one ear is stronger than the other, offer the person you wish to speak to the seat on your strong side. You can also ask a relative or friend to help you fill in the gaps if you miss part of the conversation.

Don’t be shy about your hearing loss this holiday season

In noisy situations there is no reason to hide your hearing loss. While it may be easier to pretend that you can hear, nodding along with the others, this is not fair to you (or to the person speaking). If you feel you missed out, there is nothing wrong with asking for a recap afterward.

You can also let people know you are missing some of the conversation with simple visual cues like placing your hand to your ear. This won’t disrupt the flow of conversations but will signal to the speaker to speak up or slow down.

Sometimes a simple reminder for relatives to speak slower works wonders.

Noticed changes in your hearing? There’s still time to get help

Although planning may be underway, the holiday season is still a few weeks away. If you are worried about hearing at Thanksgiving, holiday parties or other gatherings, there’s time to have a no-obligation hearing assessment* to see if hearing aids are an option for you. A hearing specialist can also give you tips on communicating with loved ones. If you are concerned about a loved one’s hearing, offer to bring them for an appointment. We encourage caregivers, friends and family to join our patients for the first appointment.

Let your hearing aids help you

Sometimes the most obvious strategy is the best solution. If you have hearing aids, wear them. Plus, if you forget them and have trouble following along, it may frustrate your family. The newest hearing aids have technical advancements designed for complex hearing environments, where noise is coming from multiple sources. Newer devices make it easier to hear what you want to hear, even in the situations with multiple people speaking.

For best results, try various settings in advance to see which works best for you in noisy environments. If this isn’t enough, you may also want to consider the extra help of a discreet clip-on microphone. If you would like help with your hearing aids’ settings or perhaps reprogramming them, stop in.

It’s your holiday too, so enjoy it!

If you have new hearing aids, go easy on yourself. Take short breaks to give your brain a rest and re-energize when you feel fatigue setting in. If conversation at the table is challenging, focus on the people nearest you. If a group is too noisy or fast-paced, try a smaller and quieter group to join. Social events are for your enjoyment – not a test of your stamina.

Don’t let hearing loss keep you from enjoying the people and things you love. Locate your closest hearing professional and make an appointment with Audiology Associates of Georgia.

Posted by Admin

Two > One

Hearing loss comes in varying degrees. Yet most often professionals advise that you treat any significant loss through implementation of hearing devices. Most often with two hearing aids. Recent developments have made these formerly cumbersome eyesores into seamless (and even sometimes invisible) electronics. Audiology Associates of Georgia believes that clear and confident hearing is priceless, and these electronic devices are worth the investment.

Unique solutions for your ears

Hearing aids are no longer “one size fits all” models. Many different styles and designs offer the wearer the best quality of hearing for their individual lifestyle and needs. For this reason, getting an assessment from a hearing professional is vital when choosing what devices are right for you.

Two hearing aids? Forget about it!

If you consult the top hearing industry professionals, they generally recommend using dual hearing aids to combat most types of hearing loss. Using two devices simultaneously (or binaural hearing) benefits the wearer to such a significant degree that it outweighs the additional cost. With two hearing aids, you will:

  • Have a better understanding of speech – Two hearing aids allow for easier selective listening. Your brain can focus on the exact conversation you want to hear, not the background noise that is a nuisance to all untreated hearing loss sufferers (and even those who use one device).
  • Be able to understand more accurately – Even in the most difficult of situations, speech intelligibility is vastly improved when two devices are utilized instead of one.
  • Be able to correctly identify the origin of noise – Binaural hearing is optimal for localization or the direction in which sound originates.
  • Have a better quality of sound – A simple numerical comparison says it all. Would you prefer 180 degrees or 360 degrees of sound reception? With two devices, the 360 degrees of reception allows for the most natural sound quality that is technologically possible.
  • Experience a smooth quality of tone for better sound identification – Two hearing aids requires less volume than one. With the reduction of distortion, you can identify and comprehend sounds easier.
  • Keep both of your ears active – With two devices, you will discover a wider hearing range. When both ears actively participate in the auditory process, you gain double the hearing power. With only one, the unaided ear can degrade over time. You can avoid Auditory Deprivation Effect with binaural hearing which two devices can provide!

Okay, I understand… but do I really need two hearing aids?

Usually, you will. However, if your hearing assessment reveals that your hearing is completely normal in one ear, a second hearing device won’t help you. Adversely, if you show total deafness in one ear, you won’t need two hearing aids. Also, if you suffer from chronic ear infections (which is a cause of hearing loss), a single hearing aid may work best. This will help you avoid aggravating the infection and limit the number of reoccurrences. Some specific forms of hearing loss cause garbled speech and no hearing aids would help.

Hear in stereo

But for majority of people with hearing loss, two hearing aids are best. Health care professionals generally recommend dual hearing aid configuration. Moreover, numerous consumer satisfaction surveys show better results with two. To learn about your specific needs, call us at (770) 769-1805. Audiology Associates of Georgia will happily walk you through the decision making process including financing and insurance possibilities. We welcome you to make a complimentary appointment today.

Posted by Admin

Rechargeable batteries are here!

Hearing loss is a universal problem. It can affect anyone no matter their gender, age, race or any other socio-economic factors. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 15% of all Americans over the age of 18 have reported some trouble with hearing. And that is only the reported cases. Many view hearing problems as a bothersome nuisance not worthy of professional assessment. Even worse, some people who have severe hearing difficulties feel stigmatized by their deficit. So they refuse to acknowledge their weakness or learn to hide the symptoms from others.

Your hearing is a worthy investment

Luckily, you have invested time in learning about your hearing health and today’s treatment-based solutions. Hearing aids have served as an important investment for a long time. New technology has produced multiple designs and styles of hearing device. You have many choices in terms of models and technology that will suit your own individual needs. One of the biggest innovations – that is sure to delight both prospective and veteran hearing aid wearers alike – is the launch of Oticon’s rechargeable hearing aid.

The next step in convenience

The Oticon Opn rechargeable ZPower™ option is revolutionary in both design and convenience! Oticon’s current line of hearing devices sport a smaller but more powerful design. Yet one issue was never addressed… until now. Oticon Opn MINI RITE™ charges overnight so you can enjoy a day full of confidence knowing you can live your life without worrying about your hearing aid’s batteries!

More than “just” rechargeable batteries

As well as being rechargeable, the Oticon Opn has other customizations that you may wish to discuss with a hearing specialist. One of the most popular new options is Tinnitus SoundSupport™. Even though it is not an actual form of hearing loss, if you suffer from tinnitus, you are well versed in the frustration and fatigue it causes. With Tinnitus SoundSupport™, your device can help manage this condition with soothing sounds that are fully customizable to be unique to your own needs! Want to hear the calming comfort that only the ocean’s waves can provide you? With Tinnitus SoundSupport™, your Oticon hearing device will have you lying on your own personal mental beach!

Upgrade options for Opn users

Current Opn users: your hearing device is not being forgotten or left behind. You can bring your Oticon Opn miniRITE™ devices to your local hearing specialist to upgrade them to use rechargeable batteries. This new technology would save you 150 – 200 batteries a year.

The choice is yours

Disposable batteries can still serve a use to any Opn device. Carrying around a spare pair can serve as a backup if you forget to recharge. It is inevitable – even the most ardent charger of their hearing device will find themselves low on battery level at some point.

Take the next step

If you are interested in learning more about these new technological breakthroughs and the complete line of Oticon hearing aids, contact us at (770) 769-1805 or schedule an appointment. Learn about the multitude of choices that await you and your unique lifestyle with Oticon.

Posted by Admin

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