Loud restaurants

At SmartStep Hearing we’ve noticed for awhile that restaurants have been getting loud. We often hear from our patients that having a conversation in a restaurant can be challenging. We loved coming across an article on Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema and his thoughts on loud restaurants. Mr. Sietsema is including decibel levels with his food reviews. We give a double thumbs up to that! Read more here: https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019/01/24/restaurants-getting-too-loud?fbclid=IwAR3ocYlou5zyEqvgeJCZVz_uy_gBfYTcRUwTCNGEszzNLhFCpvVzqgqyP2Q

Good hearing health may be critical for good cognitive health

At SmartStep Hearing we are always reading recent research and staying on top of new information and advancements. Recently, I came across an article that summarized recent research that suggests that improving prevention, identification, and treatment of hearing impairment may help to delay the onset of cognitive impairment and reduce dementia.  In other words, hearing aids could slow cognitive decline in later life.  It’s never too early to get your hearing tested. Check out the article here: http://www.hearingreview.com/2019/01/evidence-hearing-aids-slow-cognitive-decline-later-life/

Over the counter hearing aids

Maybe you have heard that over the counter hearing aids are coming. You heard right… they are coming. Legally, they will likely start being sold in 2020 or later. There is still a process to go through. At SmartStep Hearing we are glad there will be more options for consumers. Over the counter hearing aids won’t help everyone with hearing loss and will likely be best for those with mild to moderate loss that want to find out what having a hearing device is like. I understand that. I bought reading glasses at The Dollar Store for the first year that I needed reading glasses. They weren’t great. You definitely got what you paid for. However, they got me used to having glasses. After about a year, I knew I needed something better and made just for me. I believe over the counter hearing aids will be the same. It will help people get used to having a hearing device but it won’t be the latest and greatest technology. When you are ready for that, SmartStep will always be here. We want you to have the best options that fit in your budget, lifestyle and hearing loss needs. We are here for you.

Feelings and Hearing Loss

I came across the article, "4 reasons to treat your hearing loss" that AARP posted to their website. It's worth a quick read. Of their 4 reasons, the one we at SmartStep Hearing liked the most was the connection between how you feel and your hearing. We see people all the time struggling to engage with others and getting frustrated because their hearing loss prevents this from happening. Often a person will struggle with this for years before making the decision to pursue a hearing aid. Feelings are important and the sooner a person makes the decision to treat their hearing loss, the faster those feelings of isolation are traded in for connection and happiness. Why wait? The time is now.

Confused about your hearing loss?

Hearing loss can be confusing. It's often hard to get the time of a professional to get all your questions answered. Last week at Smart Step hearing we had so much fun at a lunch and learn in the Rock Creek area. We had 13 people join us to learn about hearing. When we got started, Darin asked people to share questions that they wanted to make sure he answered. I was so impressed by the list that was generated. Here they are:



Technology Developments

Bone Conduction vs digital aids

Service when you are travelling


Types of loss

Tinnitus/Ringing in ears

Hearing aids and ear buds


Warranty coverage – damage and/or loss

Hearing with Background noise


We spent an hour reviewing hearing loss and answering these questions before we took a break for lunch. Sandwiches, salads and soup were enjoyed while chatting with each other. So many of us had similar frustrating experiences over hearing loss. Darin offered to schedule complimentary hearing testsand most everyone signed up. If you are interested in joining us at our next lunch and learn, email Darin at darin@smartstephearing.com and he’ll give you the details on our next event.



Talking to kids about hearing loss

The holidays are coming up. Recently, I read an article about talking to kids about hearing loss. That is, talking to them about your own or your relatives hearing loss. We don’t think about this often enough. Hearing aids are very interesting to kids. They love technology and have grown up understanding that technology can  enhance communication. Why not have a real conversation with them? If you are the person with the hearing loss, let them look at the hearing aid up close. Explain it’s features and how it helps you. Also, explain how you still need help to be part of conversations. If you are talking to your child about a relative or friend, look up pictures on the internet, learn about hearing aids together and discuss tips to improve communication with someone with hearing loss. Thinking and learning before the family dinners or festivities will go a long ways. Try it out!

Smoking and Hearing Loss

We all know smoking impacts health.  If you are a smoker you’ve been told about the many negative health impacts.  However, we don’t always hear about the impacts that may not be life threatening but do severely impact quality of life.  One of those is the link between smoking and hearing loss.

Research has showed that  hearing loss in current smokers increased from 26% for those age 48-59 years, to 56%  for those in their 60’s and 71% for those in their 70’s.  If you smoke, your chances of hearing loss as you age increases dramatically.

Although age in itself may results in a decline in hearing over time, smoking further increases your risk for hearing loss. If you are already monitoring your blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, body mass index, or other health factors in order to make healthy lifestyle decisions you should include smoking and exposure to smoke among items to monitor. 

If you are a smoker today, or know a smoker, here is one more reason to quit.  To learn more click here to review an article from Audiology Online.


Famous people with hearing loss

Did you know that Thomas Edison had impaired hearing?  He didn’t need perfect hearing to invent the light bulb!  There are many famous people who wear hearing aids but we don’t often know that they do.

Hearing aids are not commonly worn by characters on tv shows or films even when other physical challenges are being showcased.  Brian Kerwin is an actor who has performed in films such as The Help and 27 Dresses and in tv series such as Desperate Housewives.  He wears a hearing aid.  Most of the time he removes the aid for filming but recently wore it for a part in a tv series called Blue Bloods.  Find out more about his life with hearing aids by clicking here.

There are many other famous individuals who wear hearing aids, they include past President Bill Clinton, musician Huey Lewis, and golfer Arnold Palmer.  These famous people are taking care of their hearing needs, make sure you do too!

The Right Time

Have you ever nodded understanding when you had no idea what the other person just said?  Have you found yourself in a crowded room unable to join in because you couldn’t follow the conversation?  At some point in the progression of hearing loss most people begin to realize they are no longer hearing the way they used to.  However, in many cases hearing loss is a slow progression so knowing when the right time is to seek help can be a difficult decision.  It is a big step to first admit your hearing is impaired and then feel the loss is impacting your life enough to let go of vanity and make a significant investment in your hearing health.

Hearing loss can impact many aspects of your life.  If you are no longer participating in social events or feeling disconnected from your partner or family then it may time to look at options.  If you are wondering whether the time is now, check out the article “Should I get a hearing aid?” at WebMD.com.

Remember it never hurts to consult a professional.  Many individuals have their hearing tested on more than one occasion before deciding to make a purchase. In fact having regular hearing tests can help you track the progression of your hearing loss.  Evaluate how hearing loss is impacting your life and then decide if the right time is now.



Giving  back to your community by volunteering may seem like a purely altruistic activity.  However, we now know that for seniors volunteering can have very real medical benefits. A study headed by UCLA geriatrician Catherine Sarkisian, M.D., M.S.P.H., found that seniors who participated in volunteer work were significantly less likely to become frail than those who didn’t.  Sarkisian says, “For reasons that we’re just beginning to understand, there does seem to be a physical benefit to getting outside yourself and helping others.”

If a senior has difficulty hearing then s/he may be less comfortable volunteering.  Many volunteer opportunities take place in loud or chaotic areas such as soup kitchens, senior centers, schools or even helping out outdoors with street noise, etc.  In order to ensure a senior can volunteer and therefore not only give back to their community but also enjoy the health benefits of volunteering, having their hearing checked regularly is important.

Hearing aids can ensure that seniors are able to take care of others as well as they are taking care of themselves.


For more information check out these sources:






Pets and Hearing

For most of us, bringing a pet into our home is a decision based on wanting the connection and relationship a pet provides.  We rarely consider the health benefits to our family when choosing the right pet.  However, as you grow older making the decision to add a pet to the family can be a health benefit in many ways. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in May of 1999 demonstrated that independently living seniors that have pets tend to have better physical health and mental wellbeing than those that don’t. We know there is a direct positive correlation between a senior citizens mental alertness, physical stamina, and length of life as a pet owner.

For those with hearing loss, a pet can provide a sense of safety and security.  A dog can be trained to alert their owner when the phone rings or someone comes to the door.  We typically think of dogs for those that are deaf but even those that are hard of hearing can benefit from both the health benefits and the lifestyle benefit of having a companion.

Hearing aids take care of the physical need to enhance sound but a pet can enhance the experience so that whether the aids or in or out the senior citizen is comfortable in his or her home or when out for a walk.  It’s important not to jump into a pet ownership decision but considering the option may be good for your health!


For more information check out these sources:




Are you Diabetic? Then you should have your hearing checked regularly!

New research confirms that people with Diabetes are at higher risk for impaired hearing.  A study showed that participants who were Diabetic and under the age of 60 were 2.6 times more likely to have impaired hearing.  While not proven, it may be that poor blood sugar control damages blood vessels and nerves which impact hearing. In one national sample of Americans, close to half of adults with diabetes had some degree of hearing loss compared with about 20 percent of their diabetes-free counterparts. Diabetes is tied to a range of complications, including heart disease, kidney failure, vision loss and now hearing loss.

While Diabetics tend to visit their doctor regularly and have their blood sugar checked, the physicians rarely ask about hearing.  Doctors focus instead on bigger-picture things such as overall blood sugar control, diet and weight control.  Don’t wait for your doctor to ask about your hearing; if you are diabetic have your hearing checked today!

For more information, check out this article from Health Magazine.

Your Heart and your Hearing

The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) recently began efforts to raise awareness between your heart health and your hearing health.  Baby Boomers and Gen Xers need to pay particular attention as research not only shows that untreated hearing loss has adverse effects on quality of life and other physical and emotional conditions, but also that hearing loss can be an indicator of other chronic diseases, including heart disease. A recent study was published by the American Journal of Audiology which reviewed over 60 years of research.  The study concluded that the negative impact of impaired heart health onthe hearing system and the positive impact of improved heart health on hearing has been found.  The most significantpositive relationship between improved heart health and improvements in hearing has been found among older adults.

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, cause 17.3 million deaths each year.  Reduce your risk by having your hearing checked regularly.

For more information, check out this article from RedOrbit.


Back to School!

It’s time for all the kids to head back to school!  This time of year children are busy readying their back packs and preparing to meet a new or loved teacher.  For some children school means additional challenges.  We typically think of seniors dealing with issues of hearing loss but children suffer as well. Many folks wait much longer than needed to purchase hearing aids because they don’t  like the way they look.  We could all learn from Samantha, an 8-year old with hearing loss, who says “My parents inspired me a lot because they have always told me that I should be proud of who I am and just be myself.”  Samantha has written a book sharing her experience.   This book is great for young or old to remind us that what’s important is what is inside not the hearing aids on the outside.

To read more about Samantha, click here (insert this link: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/14/8-year-old-writes-book-on-hearing-loss/)

Samantha’s book is available on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Samanthas-Fun-Hearing-Aid-Book/dp/1466327170