Next Generation Audiology Services
We specialize in professional hearing services for the adult population but do also offer hearing rehabilitation for adolescents. We refer children to the Audiology Services Department at Children’s Hospital. Commonly, audiology centers deal primarily with mature age groups, and this is also the case at Vail Valley. Many of our patients are also among the growing number of Baby Boomers in need of hearing advice.
The healthcare industry is undergoing a rapid transition from doing things “the way we always did it” to something unprecedented. A large part of the transition is being driven by the baby-boomer generation. The baby-boomer outlook permeates throughout younger generations, but the divide between baby-boomers and their elder counterparts couldn’t be more stark. What worked for the elders in healthcare doesn’t necessarily work for baby boomers. Here’s why.
Kim and Bob
Bob and Kim married when they were young. He worked at the university she attended when they married, but with a little bit of a generation gap. For them, it worked. At 65, Bob was due for his annual checkup with a few other diagnostics like a colonoscopy. Happily, he reported to Kim that according to all the medical markers, he was healthy, but her gut told her otherwise. Bob spent a large portion of the day in front of the TV, he was putting on weight and he seemed to be losing energy quickly throughout the day. She chalked it up to his being older than her, but she also knew that she didn’t want that to happen as she aged.
Kim went to yoga everyday, loved her book club and couldn’t get enough of her grandchildren. She didn’t want her age to come in the way of those activities. But, she noticed that when people talked, she was straining to make out what they were saying. Maybe they were talking too quietly, but maybe she was also losing her hearing. She went to an audiologist to figure it out, to learn more and to come up with a solution.
Bob is part of a generation of people that viewed not having medical problems as being healthy, some people called them the silent generation. Kim viewed health as having the ability to live the life she wanted to live, regardless of age. She is a typical baby-boomer.
Two different approaches
As healthcare providers, how we deal with each individual varies, but it also varies by generation. Baby-boomers want to proactively engage in their health. They want to know all the information and make decisions before experiencing a full blown problem. Prior to the baby-boomers, people often refused to accept the fact that they were experiencing problems. If their children pressed them to see a doctor, they just wanted to know what was wrong and if there was anything they can do about it.
At Vail Valley Hearing Center we know how important it is to show the effectiveness of treatments ahead of time. We prefer to take a proactive approach to hearing health so that you can continue to do the things you love regardless of when you were born.
Hearing Solutions for Baby Boomers
We provide hearing evaluations to a variety of age groups and deal with the whole spectrum of adult patients. Lately, we’ve been noticing a pattern. Baby boomers are coming into the practice more than ever, and it’s completely changed the way we approach the fundamental treatment of hearing loss. Many of these new patients are still very much in the work force, so they (rightfully) expect the best results. And we’ve figured out a way to deliver.
The baby boomer generation (born 1946-1964) is becoming the segment of the population that will be most affected by hearing loss over the next few years. Out of the 31 million plus Americans that have some degree of hearing impairment, approximately 15% or more of them are baby boomers.
Not only that, two out of three people with hearing loss are below retirement age, and many need hearing assistance in order to remain effective in the workforce.
The number one cause of hearing loss in the boomer generation is noise-induced, as the use of hearing protection was not always recommended or required in the past as it is today.
According to a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania:
Declines in hearing ability may accelerate gray matter atrophy in auditory areas of the brain and increase the listening effort necessary for older adults to successfully comprehend speech…”As hearing ability declines with age, interventions such as hearing aids should be considered not only to improve hearing but to preserve the brain,” said lead author Jonathan Peelle, PhD, research associate in the Department of Neurology.
We can see brain atrophy in scanners, but we experience this decline as memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s. According to the USA Today article, Listen Up: Dementia linked to hearing loss,
“Cognitive problems developed, 30% to 40% faster when hearing declined to 25 decibels — mild hearing loss, according to the research online in the JAMA Internal Medicine. ‘That’s when you begin noticing trouble hearing and understanding in settings like a busy restaurant,’ says lead author Frank Lin.”
As we become more aware of the detrimental effects hearing loss has on our brains, attitudes and quality of life, we also recognize the benefits of early intervention. A simple hearing test is all it takes to make sure the effects of hearing loss are minimized and age with grace.
Why Performance Matters
We live in an increasingly mobile culture. Today, if you are having trouble hearing over the phone or in a conference, it could affect your earning potential. For our baby boomers, better hearing is a quality of life issue. It’s important, of course, but the stakes are considerably higher for the boomers.
The traditional office setting is becoming less constrictive. Work is conducted on the go and our hearing is forced to adapt. If it starts to fade, everyday tasks can become much more difficult.
How We’re Responding
But we’re not just casual observers. We’ve listened to our patients and responded by seeking the best technology to provide solutions. Many of our patients have expressed the importance of compatibility with mobile phones. In the past, hearing aids haven’t always worked with mobile technology. Since so much business in conducted by phone these days, that wasn’t a reality they were prepared to accept.
So we, and those in our industry, went to work. Now, many hearing aids on the market are compatible with bluetooth technology. This technology makes hearing aids conducive to the modern work environment, keeping baby boomers in the game longer and reducing the stress of impaired hearing.
In a strange way, the baby boomers’ unique hearing challenges have been a major boom to the industry. They expect performance, even demand it, and our experts are more than happy to respond. As a result, hearing aid technology is better than ever, and it will only continue to improve in the coming years.
At Vail Valley Hearing Center we are specialists in dealing with the baby boomer generation and its specific professional hearing service needs. Our audiology services include hearing aid fitting of the newest hearing aids designed to suit a working lifestyle. The latest technology consists of digital hearing aids, invisible hearing aids and other styles of hearing aids ideal for active people.
If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, act soon but also act wisely. Give us a call today if you’d like to learn more about your hearing. Or, stop in to see if we can help you hear more effectively at work.