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Hearing loss and essential tremors are two common problems that can significantly impact the quality of life for individuals as they age. While hearing loss affects a large percentage of adults, essential tremors, characterized by shaky hands, are less prevalent but still significant. Recent research suggests that these two conditions may be linked, complicating the management of both issues. In this article, we will explore the challenges faced by individuals with hearing loss and hand tremors and discuss potential solutions.
Hearing loss affects approximately 46% of adults by the age of 48 1, and this percentage only increases with age. Meanwhile, essential tremors affect between 0.4% and 3.9% of the population 2, making it one of the most common neurological diseases in adults. Dealing with both conditions simultaneously can be frustrating, as the motor difficulties caused by hand tremors make it challenging to use small hearing aids.
The most apparent issues arising from the combination of hearing aids and hand tremors include difficulties in changing batteries, cleaning the hearing aids, changing wax traps, and properly inserting the devices into the ears. These tasks often require the assistance of caregivers, adding to the dependence and limitations faced by individuals with both conditions.
To address these challenges, here are some tips that can help individuals with hearing loss and hand tremors navigate their daily lives more effectively:
Tip 1: Changing Hearing Aid Batteries With Hand Tremors
Changing hearing aid batteries can be particularly challenging for individuals with hand tremors. One useful tool is a magnet tool designed to facilitate the battery replacement process. This tool utilizes a magnet to connect to the battery, providing leverage for easier insertion and removal while preventing the battery from falling on the ground. The Oticon magnet tool is highly recommended due to its strength, although less expensive alternatives are also available. Additionally, for those who struggle with battery changes, rechargeable hearing aids can be a viable option, though they may be limited to behind-the-ear models, which can be more difficult to insert with shaky hands.
Tip 2: Changing Wax Traps
Wax traps are crucial components of hearing aids that prevent the accumulation of earwax or debris inside the devices, which can impair their functionality. Changing wax traps is a relatively simple task for individuals with stable hands and good dexterity. However, for those with hand tremors, it can become significantly more challenging. An alternative solution is to request extended receiver tubes instead of traditional wax traps. While extended receiver tubes require daily cleaning, they are generally easier to manage than wax traps. If your hearing aids come with wax traps, it may be possible to have them changed to extended receiver tubes by contacting the manufacturer, especially if the aids are still under warranty.
Tip 3: Selecting the Right Hearing Aid Style
Choosing the appropriate hearing aid style can greatly alleviate the difficulties faced by individuals with hand tremors. For those who have not yet purchased a hearing aid, a full shell in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid is highly recommended. This style is the easiest to insert into the ear canal and offers a larger battery, simplifying the process of changing batteries. On the other hand, receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) style aids, which are more challenging to insert with shaky hands, should be avoided.
Tip 4: Consider a Lyric Hearing Aid
While cost may be a factor, the Lyric hearing aid presents a valuable option for individuals with hand tremors. This invisible hearing aid is designed for those who prefer a discreet device and requires minimal maintenance. The Lyric hearing aid remains in the ear for extended periods, including during sleep and showers. With no battery replacements necessary, it offers convenience and ease of use. However, regular visits to an audiology clinic are required for device replacements, and this option tends to be more expensive due to the yearly subscription model.
Tip 5: The Pocket Talker
For individuals who find it challenging to manage traditional hearing aids and lack caregiver assistance, the pocket talker can be a suitable alternative. This larger device uses standard headphones, which are easier to put on and do not encounter issues with earwax blockage. The pocket talker is also more affordable than traditional hearing aids, features user-friendly volume controls, and is less likely to be misplaced.
By following these tips, individuals with hearing loss and hand tremors can overcome some of the challenges associated with managing their conditions. It is important to consult with an audiologist to determine the best strategies and assistive devices tailored to individual needs. With the right support and solutions, it is possible to enhance daily living and regain a sense of independence.