Support the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act
Together, let’s make hearing and balance care more available to all.
We’d love to have your support for the proposed Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (MAASA)! This groundbreaking bipartisan legislation in Congress could make it easier for community members to access the quality hearing care they need, and you can help.
Did you know?
An estimated one-third of adults over age 65 live with disabling hearing loss, per the World Health Organization, yet only a fraction of those who could benefit from solutions such as hearing aids actually use them.
Does lack of access play a role in some cases?
Possibly. The good news is that MAASA — which builds on a prior proposal, the Audiology Patient Choice Act, considered in 2018 — may open needed hearing and balance evaluation and treatment to more people nationwide, helping folks improve not only their communication and vestibular health but overall wellness and quality of life. The proposal involves two identical bills in the House and Senate — H.R. 4056 and S. 2446, respectively. In a joint statement from Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office, Republican Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) noted, “Seniors who suffer from hearing conditions shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to see their preferred audiologist. [MAASA] cuts through the red tape to help Medicare patients access quality, affordable care.” Specifically, the proposed law:
- Facilitates direct access for audiology services, eliminating the requirement for a physician order
- Allows audiologists to be paid for all services — including treatment — rather than just diagnostics
- Changes the status of audiologists within Medicare from “supplier” to “practitioner”
Why does it matter?
Typically anyone can seek an audiologist’s care without a physician order, but such an order is required for Medicare Part B participants. This creates a potential barrier for people 65 and older who need professional hearing and balance help. If enacted, the legislation would remove this hurdle, empowering patients with more choice in finding and selecting qualified, licensed professionals for Medicare-covered audiology services. Medicare Part B participants would be able to walk through our doors just as their privately insured peers — and those with Medicare Advantage or VA benefits — can.
You can help widen access to hearing care for yourself and your loved ones by supporting this important legislation.
The Academy of Doctors of Audiology’s letter campaign makes it quick and easy to make your voice heard with just a few clicks on your keyboard. So don’t wait. Please join us in this critical effort today!
5 Tips to Keep Your Better-Hearing Resolution Going Strong From spending more time with family and friends to taking classes at the local gym, almost everyone makes at least one New Year’s resolution. The catch? Just 8% of resolvers stick to their goals, per a Forbes story referencing University of Scranton research. No worries: If you’re aiming to hear your best in 2020, we’re sharing five tips to help boost your stick‑to‑itiveness for the new year and beyond!
- Though hearing loss can be permanent — some cases caused by noise exposure, for example, can be irreversible, hence the importance of hearing protection — nearly all types can be effectively managed with solutions such as today’s sophisticated hearing aids. Understanding the power of hearing technology, including what it can and cannot do, can go a long way toward shaping attainable goals.
WRITE IT DOWN
- With the potential ability of hearing loss to take a heavy toll on relationships, self-esteem, social engagement, brain health, and so much more, it may seem surprising that a written reminder is in order. When it comes to self-care, however, it’s not uncommon for people to put themselves last. Put your better-hearing goal in writing — even setting a weekly electronic reminder — to help stay on track.
- Did you know? Improved hearing is associated with lower odds of depression, a reduced chance of dementia, a greater sense of independence, and other important facets of quality living. What counts even more, however, are the reasons better hearing matters to you. Visualize a world — at home, work, and play — in which you hear the sounds that mean the most, and keep that motivation top of mind.
TELL A FRIEND
- Sometimes it’s a little easier to feel accountable to someone else, so consider sharing your better-hearing goal with a friend, relative, or other confidant who’s willing to back you with reminders, encouragement, and check-ins. Knowing that someone else wants you to succeed may be just the push you need. You could even take them to your appointments for support and additional perspective.
- You’ve heard the old saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” (Full disclosure: We don’t eat elephants here!) Your better-hearing goal can work the same way. Break your resolution into small bites set to reasonable deadlines — for example, writing it down, listing the benefits, telling a friend, making a hearing‑check appointment — and reward yourself with each milestone accomplished.
No matter your new-year goals, we’re committed to helping you reach them with the power of better hearing. So don’t delay. Contact our caring team for help that’s tailored to your communication needs today!
10 Tips for Managing Hearing Loss Hearing loss can seem daunting, with its ability to affect relationships, self‑confidence, physical health, and more. Taking charge of it, however, can go a long way toward keeping you feeling empowered and engaged.
Start with these 10 helpful do’s and don’ts:
- DO know that you’re not alone. Hearing loss is a growing public-health challenge — the third most chronic condition in the U.S. and Canada. Science is always on the case, however, and effective solutions are available right now.
- DO stay atop your hearing health with regular checkups — just as you would for your eyes and teeth. Early intervention with the help of a licensed hearing care provider can make a big difference in your quality of life.
- DO maintain your hearing aids, which are powerful but require care. DIY cleaning, storage, wax-guard changing, and battery-charging are easy tasks. Bring your devices in periodically for professional clean and checks, too!
- DO explore your devices. Some of today’s hearing aids not only stream phone calls and other audio directly to your ears but can interact with innovative apps, handle remote fine-tuning, loop into venue sound systems, and more.
- DO try to optimize your communication environment with steps such as facing your conversation partner, sitting away from noise, choosing spots with good lighting (for lip-reading), and giving helpful feedback — including nonverbal cues or words of encouragement — to the person speaking.
- DON’T ignore hearing issues. Hearing acuity can change over time — or due to injury, medication, or infection — making it important to seek help if listening clearly or understanding certain sounds seems harder than it used to be.
- DON’T forget the importance of good nutrition, which can play a role in ear and hearing health. A recent Brigham and Women’s Hospital study, for example, found that certain dietary practices may help curb the risk of hearing impairment by 30% or more.
- DON’T tolerate excess noise, which can lead to hearing loss or worsen an existing hearing problem. Loud sounds are among the most common and preventable causes, so limit your exposure and keep quality hearing protection on hand.
- DON’T hide hearing loss from loved ones. Family members — also affected when someone has a hearing issue — report improvements in relationships, social life, and more when the problem is addressed. Consider tackling it together.
- DON’T deny yourself compassion and patience. Adjusting to new hearing technology can take time and some fine-tuning, so expect adjustments and know that it’s all about ensuring you’re hearing — and living — your best.
Have questions about managing hearing loss? We can help. Contact us today!
Q: Why Do My Ears Feel So Congested?
A: Good question! When folks talk about congestion, most people naturally think about nasal passageways, but ears can feel pretty plugged up, too. Let’s talk about what might be going on when ears seem clogged, how it can affect your hearing, and how you can get some relief.
The sensation of plugged-up ears essentially means a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears — as if something is partially or completely filling the space within your ear canal. It can feel fairly innocuous, somewhat annoying, or even downright painful. It can also make sounds seem rather faint or make it difficult to hear altogether.
Any number of conditions can cause this sensation of fullness.
One possibility involves altitude-related air-pressure changes, which can produce symptoms such as clicking or popping in the ears, ear pain or blockage, and even temporary hearing loss.
Normally the eustachian tube, a narrow passageway from the ear to the back of the throat, helps keep pressure in the ear relatively equal. When external pressure changes quickly, however — like in air travel — your body might need a little extra help to get the ears back on track.
— In this case, yawning, swallowing, chewing gum, or sucking on your favorite hard candy before the plane ascends or descends can help the eustachian tube equalize air pressure inside the ear. Holding your nose, closing your mouth, and softly blowing without exhaling air may also help — as long as you don’t have a sinus infection.
Other possible causes of ear congestion can include ear infection, head trauma, or a case of the common cold. Conditions such as Ménière's disease are also potential contributors, making it important to seek a complete ear evaluation if you experience any fullness in one or both ears lasting more than a couple days or accompanied by ear pain, discharge, or ringing; balance issues; dizziness; or headaches.
Our caring experts can help you keep your hearing health in top shape, so don’t wait. Contact us to schedule a full examination, get answers to your questions, or discuss your hearing-health concerns today. We’re here to help!
There’s an old saying that “Knowing is half the battle,” and that adage couldn’t be truer when it comes to your hearing and quality of life. Hearing loss affects more than your ability to communicate, so we’re sharing six reasons to have your hearing tested sooner rather than later.
- FALLS — Untreated hearing impairment is linked to falling, which is more common among people with hearing loss. In a 2012-published study of 2,017 adults ages 40 to 69 and led by Johns Hopkins and National Institute on Aging researchers, those with mild hearing loss were nearly three times as likely to have reported a fall. Ears play an important role in helping maintain balance, making it important to identify and address hearing problems early.
- BRAIN HEALTH — Hearing loss can potentially take a toll on the brain, which may have to work harder to process sound. In addition, an ever-growing body of research connects hearing loss to other problems such as faster brain atrophy, earlier onset of major cognitive decline, and up to five times’ higher risk of dementia. With hearing aid use, however, age-related cognitive decline could slow as much as 75%.
- DEPRESSION — Research supports a link between hearing loss and depression. Older adults with hearing loss, for example, have a 57% greater risk of experiencing deep depression than those without it, per a Johns Hopkins investigation. With hearing aid use, however, the odds of depression may be lower, according to another study.
- FINANCES — Did you know? Research suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher medical costs, with older adults paying some 46% more — about $22,434 — than their normal-hearing peers in a 10-year span. In addition, annual household earnings can take a hit of as much as $30,000 with a hearing loss, but treatment with hearing aids could reduce that risk by up to 100%.
- CHILD DEVELOPMENT — The impact of hearing loss on children reaches beyond the physical and emotional effects, with implications for their academic-, social-, and communication-related development. For example, 25% to 35% of kids with hearing loss in even just one ear may risk failing a grade level. Early intervention, which could make a big difference in a child’s quality of life, starts with testing.
- RELATIONSHIPS — Adults with unaddressed hearing loss report reduced social engagement, more emotional turmoil, and other challenges that could affect their relationships and more. The good news? Not only do adults treated with hearing aids report significant improvements in their social lives and relationships with families, but their loved ones do too, per research from the National Council on Aging.
Some 466 million children and adults around the globe have experienced disabling hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization, but only a fraction receive care. Empowerment starts with answers, so don’t wait. Stay atop your hearing health by scheduling a comprehensive hearing evaluation with our caring team today. It’s easy, painless, and helps you stay on the path of better hearing and improved overall wellness.
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