If you have a family member or friend who has hearing loss, treat him or her to something special during the holidays. Many people don't realize it, but there is a vast number of devices for people with hearing loss - both those who wear hearing aids and those who do not - that can make daily life easier and more enjoyable. Here is an overview of just a few of the products available for the hearing impaired to boost their hearing in a variety of situations:
Personal listening systems
Personal listening systems are usually small devices that can fit in the pocket, be clipped on to clothing or be held in the hand. There are two main types of personal listening systems, and their use varies depending upon the type of listening situation.
Personal amplifiers are meant for one-on-one conversations. They are typically battery-operated and are best for situations where much background noise is present or anticipated. For example, if you were having a conversation in a restaurant, the microphone would sit facing the person who was speaking who does not have hearing loss, or that person would hold the microphone and speak directly into it. The person with hearing loss would wear headphones connected to the amplifying device in order to carry on a conversation more easily with the other person.
Telephones for those with hearing loss
For people with hearing loss, talking on the phone can be a big challenge. Some people even shy away from making calls, answering the phone and connecting with friends and family members over the phone because they feel embarrassed. Give your friend or family member the gift of a clear phone call with a telephone or amplifying device made just for those with hearing loss.
There are many different cordless amplified phones available for older adults who still prefer to use landlines. Amplified phones generally function in two different capacities: They amplify the incoming high-frequency sounds up to 40 decibels and they improve the sound clarity as well. Many amplified phones are also hearing aid compatible and have a strobe flasher to alert someone with hearing loss to an incoming call. You can also purchase an amplifier for a regular home phone.
Captioned telephones operate like any other phone, but they also have captions of the entire conversation displayed on a screen on the phone's base. The phone is connected to a professional transcriber who types the conversation as it happens, allowing for very little delay time. Captioned telephones give a boost to a person's remaining hearing, allowing him or her to both listen and read what is being said on the other line.
TV listening systems
All televisions today are required by the Federal Communications Commission to be captioned. However, many older adults have vision problems as well, so captioned TVs aren't the perfect solution for watching their favorite shows. Plus, most people would agree that reading captions is not as enjoyable as hearing sound. Thankfully, there are listening systems available to allow your loved one with hearing loss to enjoy his or her favorite shows. Rather than turning the TV up to max volume, making listening uncomfortable for other family and friends without hearing loss, the TV listening systems allow the TV to be at a normal volume. The devices are wireless and come with headphones or earbuds for the person with hearing loss to wear. The TV devices can also be used to listen to music and generally have a 40-foot radius that penetrates walls and ceilings. Some even come with a neck loop for those who wear hearing aids with telecoils, and many are portable and can be used to watch a movie on an airplane.
Vibrating and/or flashing alert systems
You might also consider purchasing a gift that can help your friend or family member with hearing loss stay safe, especially if he or she lives alone. For example, you could purchase a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector that both has a very loud alarm and has flashing strobe lights. Someone with pretty severe hearing loss might not hear the detector's signal, but he or she will be alerted to strong flashing lights. Another option is a bed-shaking smoke detector - usually, it's a wireless device and the part that vibrates the bed is the size and shape of a hockey puck and fits under the mattress. In fact, you can purchase detectors that sound, flash and shake the bed to make sure your loved one with hearing loss is completely protected.
There are also alert systems for strong or dangerous weather. For example, someone with hearing loss might not hear a tornado alarm, but there are flashers and bed vibrators that should do the trick.
There are also vibrating and strobe light alarm systems available for more than safety reasons. Some can alert you to the doorbell or the phone ringing, and some devices combine flashing alerts for many things - you just have to look at the receiver to tell if the phone is ringing or someone has pressed the doorbell. Additionally, you can also purchase a vibrating watch or a bed-shaking alarm clock.
Not all gift have to cost a fortune. There are numerous items you can put together for an individual with hearing lost that doesn't require a lot of money. For those looking for something free, but heartfelt, to give to loved ones, consider putting together your own or printing off these coupons. From things like taking a loved one to their hearing healthcare professional to replacing the batteries in a hearing aid, there are numerous things you can do to show your friend with hearing loss that you're there to help.
Additionally, it's a great idea to put together a DIY "Healthy Hearing" mason jar. This kit contains items like hearing aid batteries, a clean cloth and a place to store hearing aids. The contents of the jar can be made for under $25 and can be customized to suit the needs of the designated gift recipient.