MSNBC “reprints” a The New York Times article on an innovation called a “hearing loop” that is amazing.
As a home care agency that serves many elders with hearing loss, we at Support For Home see all too many instances of seniors who have withdrawn, socially, even from their families, as a result of not being able to hear well. Since they do not hear — well enough to understand — the conversation going on around them, they do not participate. Quite often, the family does not even understand what is happening.
Many times, seniors who actually have hearing aids will not use them, because all the aid does is amplify noise, without helping the wearer differentiate between loud, irritating background noise and the sounds in which they are (or would be) actually interested. Isolation results, which speeds decline.
The article makes it clear these hearing loops can, in time, be pervasive in both public and private spaces:
As loops are installed in stores, banks, museums, subway stations and other public spaces, people who have felt excluded are suddenly back in the conversation.
A hearing loop, typically installed on the floor around the periphery of a room, is a thin strand of copper wire radiating electromagnetic signals that can be picked up by a tiny receiver already built into most hearing aids and cochlear implants. When the receiver is turned on, the hearing aid receives only the sounds coming directly from a microphone, not the background cacophony.
The experience of one “listener” sums it up well:
“The joke among my friends is that the loop system sounds too good to be true, but it is,” said Christine Klessig, a retired lawyer living near Stevens Point in central Wisconsin. “Before they installed a loop at the public library, I had to sit in the front row at lectures and try to lip-read because I missed so many words. Now I sit wherever I want and hear everything.”
This really is a marvelous innovation in the public spaces of our culture. Folks who would not go to concerts, plays, movies, lectures — fill in the blanks — can now re-expand their social calendars. That is huge! Folks who have begun to isolate themselves, even at home, can be drawn back into the conversation. According to hearingloop.org, “Home loop systems, some of which put the loop in a thin pad that simply slips under a cushion, are available in the USA from $140 and up.”
If someone you love would benefit, check it out!
Best wishes. Bert