Loud & Clear: How Hearing Can Help Long-term Wellness


Cottonwood Creek MBK Senior Living

Posted on

Mar 04, 2022


Utah - Utah

Do you feel frustrated when you can't follow conversations?
Do you feel your personal or social life is limited?
Do you feel left out of conversations because you can't hear clearly what's said?

YOU'RE NOT ALONE! Hearing loss is the third most common chronic disease (behind arthritis and heart disease) to impact aging adults. Sadly, hearing loss often causes people to draw the wrong conclusion about why a loved one may be confused, unresponsive to everyday noises like the doorbell, less social, or even more irritable. While approximately two in three people over the age of 70 have difficulty hearing, many may not want to admit they're having trouble. Getting help isn't just about rejoining conversations with ease studies show that those with hearing loss have a greater chance of developing dementia.

What's the Connection? Brain Health.
Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and cognitive decline that can impair daily life and independent function. According to the Alzheimer's Association, there is growing evidence that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle habits such as exercise, continued learning, and joining activities that make them a part of a community. However, many of those suggestions falter among seniors who have difficulty hearing. Instead, many with hearing loss become socially disengaged, intellectually under stimulated, at risk for depression, and three times more at risk for falls. What's more, brain strain caused by trying to hear can negatively impact memory and thinking systems.

"Hear" to Help!
That's why MBK Senior Living and Eversound have joined forces to fight the cognitive decline in seniors and enhance their day-to-day living. Eversound's wireless listening system is designed specifically for seniors with hearing impairment or concentration issues. The Eversound headphone systems can be used in large groups, small groups, and one-on-one interactions. In addition to improving seniors' quality of life, Eversound technology helps break down communication barriers between others, aids residents in feeling connected, and supports social, educational, and physical endeavors.

"Residents who avoided activities because they couldn't hear instructions clearly or participate in conversations can now join in with ease using the Eversound headphones," said Christy Van Der Westhuizen, vice president of sales and marketing for MBK Senior Living.
According to Van Der Westhuizen, resident wellness has long been a component of MBK Senior Living's approach to care but utilizing the latest technology helps to elevate the offerings and benefits to residents. MBK's Mind+Body Wellness program offers a robust calendar of social, spiritual, physical, and educational opportunities daily. Those with a thirst for knowledge, or simply a curiosity to try something new, enjoy the variety of activities and outings and now are not limited by what they can hear.

"While we're in the initial roll-out stage at 34 of our communities, what we're hearing from our Resident Enrichment Directors is music to our ears," said Van Der Westhuizen. "Already there is an increase in resident participation and engagement, residents are happier, more connected and enjoying more activities that lead to heart and brain health."
"Improving seniors' quality of life is a driving force behind Eversound technology," said Matt Reiners, co-found of Eversound. "Partnering with MBK amplifies the number of lives we can touch and experiences we can impact."

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Get to Know the Outreach Team at Pennsylvania Relay

Pennsylvania (PA) Relay is a free public service that provides telecommunication solutions to citizens who are deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind, or who have difficulty speaking. With support from PA Relay, these individuals can place and receive calls through assistive services and technology. PA Relay has a team of outreach coordinators who visit various communities throughout the state to bring more awareness to this valuable service. Outreach coordinators connect with potential PA Relay users, their loved ones, and community members and inform them about the available solutions that could help them, or someone they know, communicate more efficiently and effectively.  PA Relays outreach coordinators Jenny Pearson and Thadeus Graham took some time to answer important questions about the free public service and their roles on the outreach team to help people understand how they can benefit from PA Relay services and the educational opportunities available through the outreach program. Keep reading to get to know your outreach coordinators!What are the responsibilities of your role as an outreach coordinator?Jenny: As an outreach coordinator, my main focus is educating Pennsylvania residents and businesses about the services provided by PA Relay and how those services work. Its my pleasure to travel throughout the state educating people about PA Relays services and how businesses and organizations can benefit from using PA Relay to connect with potential clients who use accessible telecommunications to conduct business. To do this, the outreach team exhibits at community events, gives educational presentations to local organizations, and provides training to businesses and organizations.   Thadeus: I educate people about PA Relay as well as assist people in gaining access to the free public service. As an outreach coordinator my role is to both assist our relay users as well as introduce people who could benefit from the service to PA Relay. I answer questions, help with equipment installations, provide a point of contact for our users, host presentations, or attend expos and health fairs to make sure everyone is aware of the services that are available to them.  How can PA Relays services help people stay connected, and how do you help people learn more about these specific services?Jenny: In presenting this information at public and private events, the outreach team can inform people on how these services work and why they are important for accessibility and facilitation of communication for people of all abilities.   Thadeus: PA Relays services help people stay connected by returning independence and autonomy to our users. It empowers people who are deaf, DeafBlind, hard of hearing, or who have speech differences to connect to standard telephone users directly through their adaptive equipment. I help people learn about these services through a variety of methods.  What kind of events do you attend as an outreach coordinator?Jenny: Some types of events the outreach team attends could be health fairs, senior expos, state and local fairs, church groups, chamber of commerce events, conferences, and virtual presentations.   Thadeus: I will attend any event that will have me and that will have a meaningful impact for my fellow Pennsylvania residents. I attend health fairs, senior expos, and host presentations at local organizations. I also work with community leaders to schedule town hall events or even host awareness nights at local sporting events. Ive met with PA Relay users in their homes to help them with their adaptive equipment on a more personal level.  What has been one of your favorite events that youve attended as an outreach coordinator? What made it so memorable?Jenny: I have been an outreach coordinator for six years and have experienced so many amazing events and interactions. Some of my favorite events involve educating seniors and their caregivers about PA Relay and how we can help maintain connections between those who use traditional telephone services and those who use relay services. Hearing loss is a common experience among those who are aging, and to be able to provide these folks with a solution like Voice Carry-Over or Captioned Telephone is incredibly rewarding, especially when they share their experiences with me. Thadeus: My first ever presentation will always be etched into my mind. It was a cold December morning just north of Philadelphia. I had just presented to a group of seniors about PA Relay. After the presentation I helped a few of them download and set up the Hamilton Mobile CapTel App on their phones. The joy they had calling each other and using their new adaptive technology made me realize how much of a difference this can truly make for people. I was hooked on wanting to help as many people as possible after that day.Do you offer educational presentations about PA Relay to local organizations?Jenny: Yes, we do! We provide presentations throughout the state, both in person and virtually. Some of the types of organizations we educate are service providers, health professionals, retirement communities, Deaf and Hard of Hearing support groups and organizations, local businesses and agencies, sporting groups, and church gatherings. All of our presentations are always no cost and can be scheduled at the organizations convenience.   Topics discussed during our presentations are general information about PA Relay, types of services provided and how they work, and how to use the service. The topics can certainly be customized based on the organization. For example, a group may be interested in services for those who are living with hearing loss, so we can tailor our presentation to address those specific services.Thadeus: PA Relay offers a variety of training as well as educational preparations to any interested organization across the Commonwealth. We can also provide training to organizations on how to properly handle relay calls. The Relay Friendly Business Training helps organizations identify relay calls and trains staff on how to properly handle these types of calls.During these presentations we discuss everything from the history of relay services to the different types of services. We discuss PA Captioned Telephone Relay Service and how to acquire adaptive equipment either through the states equipment distribution program, TechOWL, or other means. The topics and timeframe can be customized to meet the needs of the organization.  Is there anything else about your role as an outreach coordinator that youd like people to know?Jenny: As an outreach coordinator, the most important thing I do is connect people to resources they can use to make life a bit easier. Often, I present information to people who do not need PA Relays services, but they know someone who does. When this happens, its so rewarding to hear how they will share what theyve learned from me with those who really need assistance making and receiving calls. This ensures that connections remain strong, and people are able to live life as independently as possible.   Thadeus: The biggest thing I would like people to know is just how life-changing these services are. Even if youre not someone who could use PA Relay, its likely that someone you know could greatly benefit from the service.  How can an interested individual or organization reach you?Jenny: To learn more about PA Relay, feel free to email me at Jenny.Pearson@HamiltonRelay.com or call 610-737-7205! Thadeus: The best way to get in touch would be by emailing Thadeus.Graham@HamiltonRelay.com, or I am available by phone at 412-944-7424.  FEDERAL LAW PROHIBITS ANYONE BUT REGISTERED USERS WITH HEARING LOSS FROM USING INTERNET PROTOCOL (IP) CAPTIONED TELEPHONES WITH THE CAPTIONS TURNED ON. Advanced speech recognition software is used to process calls, and, in certain circumstances, a live communications assistant may be included on the call. There is a cost for each minute of captions generated, paid from a federally administered fund. To learn more, visit fcc.gov. Third-party charges may apply: the Hamilton CapTel phone requires high-speed internet access (Wi-Fi capable) and in some cases, may require telephone service. When using Hamilton CapTel on a smartphone or tablet and not on Wi-Fi, a data plan is required. Hamilton CapTel may be used to make 911 calls but may not function the same as traditional 911 services. For more information about the benefits and limitations of Hamilton CapTel and Emergency 911 calling, visit HamiltonCapTel.com/911. Third-party trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners.


Hearing aid technology is continuing to advance at rapid speeds.  These advances allow wearers to hear better in many situations where listening was previously difficult. Advancements have also been made in the compatibility of hearing aids and smart phones.  Many hearing aids can be linked with Apple and Android devices in order to give the wearer direct streaming between the aids and the phone.  Its important to remember though that the primary purpose of hearing aids is to assist you in hearing speech and other sounds in the environment that you are in.  The priority is not the streaming of audio from your phone.  While this capability is there, it is still far from perfected. There are many variables which can interfere with the connection between the aids and the phone.  One such interference is software updates.  Almost every time you take a software update on your cell phone, the pairing between the phone and the aids will be disconnected.  You will be required to re-pair the aids to the phone in this instance.  Other interferences can be caused by cell service interruptions, wi-fi interruptions, and even other Bluetooth devices that may be nearby.    In almost every situation, connectivity issues are caused by smart phones and not by hearing aids.  Hearing aids are always and will always be first and foremost medical devices and not just another cell phone accessory. This article was submitted by Ryan Oberholtzer, Hearing Instrument Specialist with Darrell M. Sipe Opticians and Hearing Aids.  

Healthcare Directives

Healthcare Directives are valuable to people in all walks of life. As you read this article, consider obtaining one for yourself.A Healthcare Directive is a tool to designate a health care agent, or someone to make health care decisions on your behalf. It goes into effect upon your inability to make or communicate health care decisions. If you fail to appoint someone to fill this role, the court will appoint a guardian, which may create a costly legal process. If you have Healthcare Directive, you are able to choose the person who will determine what treatments and health care you will receive, including end-of-life or palliative care decisions. Your health care agent makes surrogate decisions, which means that they step in your shoes and make the decisions that you would make on your own if you were able to do so.Ideally, surrogate decisions should be based on your input and the specific preferences you communicated before any loss of decision-making capacity. It should be based on a prior understanding your health care preferences and what you would want under the circumstances. Healthcare Directives are intensely personal documents. When thinking about creating your own, consider:Your values and how they may be reflected in your health care;Your priorities;What life means to you personally; andHow important quality of life is to you.Are there certain conditions that are worse than death to you? Would you undergo a risky procedure if it had a low chance of survival? What if that same procedure had a high chance of survival but would permanently lower your quality of life? How long would you like to be on life support? Its never fun to think about these things, but by selecting a health care agent and informing them of your preferences, you are preparing for the worst-case scenario and ensuring that your wishes will be followed. Clearly, the consequences of having or not having a Healthcare Directive can be huge, which is why we so strongly advocate that everyone, regardless of age or health, have one in their estate plan. Please dont leave your relatives to fumble in the dark if the unthinkable happens and you are unable to make your own health care decisions. Again, while an Healthcare Directive will be helpful to you in the future, you might have an elderly relative who is in need of one right now. So, whether you need one for yourself or for a loved one, contact us today at (385)334-4030 or send an email to info@skvlegal.com to set up your free consultation to determine your specific needs.

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