Tag Archives: aging

Here Ye, Hear Ye: Is Bluetooth Technology For You? by Carol Rose

Bluetooth is a wireless technology used for exchange of data over short distances between devices such as cell phones, personal computers, televisions and radios, and other sound devices. It also presents some helpful alternatives for the hard of hearing.


While the information in this article is aimed at those who have hearing aids equipped with a t-coil, hard-of-hearing people can still benefit from the products described by listening via headphones or ear buds to help boost the sound.  The advantage of listening with t-coil equipped aids, however, is that the sound is transmitted directly to both ears at a level programmed specifically by the audiologist for their individual hearing loss.


What’s a T-Coil?

As the name implies, t-coils are simply tiny coils of wire mounted inside the hearing aids. They are also referred to as telephone coils, tele-coils, audio coils or t-switches. If you’re getting hearing aids for the first time or are in the market for new ones, I encourage you to talk to your audiologist about equipping them with a manual t-coil. While auto t-coils can help with telephone connections, manual ones are powerful enough to connect to a Bluetooth neckloop, whose advantages I describe below.  If you have aids and do not know if they have t-coils, call your audiologist. You might have t-coils already and just need them activated.


Hiding in Plain Sight

You’ve probably seen business people walking down the street or sitting in the airport, talking with no phone in site.  Their cell phones are most likely in their pockets, purses or briefcases. Depending on the size, you may or may not see the earpieces themselves, which connect wirelessly to cell phones via Bluetooth technology.


As a person with a profound hearing loss, I too carry on a phone conversation with my phone in my pocket.  However, my “earpiece” is my hearing aid, and I wear a Bluetooth neck loop. The loop is equipped with a wire that can send sound waves to my t-coil equipped aid.  A small device connected to the end of the loop is paired with a Bluetooth enabled cell phone.  (Nearly all cell phones made after 2007 are Bluetooth compatible.)


What Can This Loop Do?

A Bluetooth neck loop can be paired with other Bluetooth compatible devices, such as any standard Bluetooth enabled cordless phone, any radio device that has a standard Bluetooth transmitter, certain iPods or MP3 players, and Bluetooth enabled computers. With this equipment, those of you with hearing loss can more readily enjoy phone conversations on a land line, music, and movies played on your computer. And if your TV or other sound system isn’t Bluetooth compatible, you can hook a Bluetooth transmitter up to it.


Recently a friend excitedly showed me her Christmas present – a small speaker about the size of a Pringles potato chips can. She turned it on, connected her computer’s Internet to a music website, pressed the Bluetooth icon on her computer, and music poured out of this speaker… wirelessly.  If I’d been wearing my neck loop, I could have easily paired it to the speaker, turned on my t-coils,  and enjoyed the music in both my ears at a sound level designed for my particular hearing loss.


quattro, bluetoothShopping for a Neck Loop

I’ve checked out many different Bluetooth neck loops on the Internet, and if you’re interested in pursuing this method of hearing phones, music, TV and more, I urge you to do the same.  One that impressed me is the “Clearsounds Quattro Amplified Bluetooth Neckloop.”  It’s small and has earphones for the hard-of-hearing person without t-coil enabled aids. Clearsounds also has a complementary product called the QLink for converting a non-Bluetooth enabled device to Bluetooth.  The price wasn’t bad either, ranging from $108 from one company for the neckloop alone, to $159 from another company for the neckloop, earphones and transmitter.  So shop around and be sure to find out about returns and possible restocking fees, as well as shipping and handling charges, before making your final decision.


Everybody’s Doing It!

As described on http://www.bluetooth.com, another advantage of Bluetooth technology is that the stigma once associated with wearing visible electronic devices has nearly disappeared. Today, many wear earpieces, headphones, and other devices for hands-free cell phone, portable game, and MP3 player use. These accessories have become cool, with attractive colors and flashy styles that are meant to be seen. This trend has helped ease hearing aid wearers’ concerns about standing out or looking odd because of wearing something on or in their ears.


Take It Outside!

Speaking of wearing something on your ears… if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, check out the colorful protective sleeves for your hearing aids at http://www.gearforears.com.  I believe my aids will sport a pair next time I embark on a canoe trip!


And if we’re still experiencing wintry weather when you read this, or to help prepare yourself for next winter, check out this blog on hearing aids and WINTER – http://www.miassisttech.org/mdrcat/index.php/frostbite-or-feedback-hearing-aids-in-winter/!


Carol Rose is a writer/photographer living in Grand Marais.  She also writes for the Grand Marais Pilot and Pictured Rocks Review.  With the advent of spring, she is looking forward to hiking, canoeing and driving her 1995 Jeep on the back roads of the U.P.


More to Consider When Purchasing a Hearing Aid:


Some aids are too small to allow a t-coil to be added, so make sure the ones you’re considering are large enough for this option. I also suggest making sure your t-coil has both the “t-coil” setting and a “t-coil/mic” setting.  Both allow you to hear information direct to your aid, but the “t-coil” setting shuts out other sounds, while the “t-coil/mic” setting allows you also to hear additional things at the same time, such as conversation in the room and, most importantly, traffic sounds when you are driving.


This article was reprinted with permission from the Spring 2014 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2014. All rights reserved.




Filed under Aging, Carol Rose, elder care, Hearing Assistive Technology, Hearing Care

The Gifts of Aging by Barb Dupras

The definition of aging is “the process of growing old or maturing.”  A synonym for aging is “obsolescence” (becoming obsolete).  Of course, no one wants to become obsolete.  We are constantly bombarded by the media with messages telling us we should not look old but instead try any product we can to regain our youthful appearance.  It’s as if aging is a terrible malady we should avoid at all costs.  Our youth-oriented culture has lost touch with the deep meanings that can collect around being old, as if it would be better to eliminate autumn and winter from the four seasons. “Let’s get rid of the hideous autumn foliage and withered leaves so everything can be green all the time.”  But then the world would miss out on the true spirit of elders.

This mysterious process called aging has been part of the greater rhythm of life since life began.  For me, one of the gifts of this later phase of life, as a result of all my life experiences, is the opportunity to be more inner-directed.  As we come closer to the realm of the spirit, we have the opportunity to look back at our life and glean the lessons that we may or may not have learned earlier. We can learn to be more conscious, as we are no longer so distracted with children, the roller-coaster ride of hormones, or the outer challenges inherent in making a living. And we have the wisdom to look at it all.  We may identify patterns in our life reoccurring time and again.  It’s as if the original situation, (which may have occurred in childhood or when we were younger), keeps repeating itself throughout our lives in a futile attempt to resolve itself.  Now we have the opportunity to identify unhealed issues and look to whatever means we are drawn to to heal or integrate them. I believe everything that happens in our lives is for our growth, and that we can come to a sense of peace about challenging experiences.  One book that really helped me with this is The Presence Process by Michael Brown.

As we grow older, many of us focus on the physical changes.  At sixty-two, I do notice the changes in my body.  More and more, my body seems to have a mind of its own!  It will no longer tolerate my pushing it to the limit and has announced to me in various ways that the pace is different now.  And I am more focused on maintaining my health.  I know that the “golden years” can be fraught with pain and disease.  But I invite you to take a different perspective about your body.  It has served you well for many, many years.  And the natural state of our bodies is one of perfect health.  No matter what state your body is in, it is always trying to rebalance or heal itself, (even if it means compromising other systems).  For example, one day my lower back was giving me great discomfort.  I sat and meditated for a while and totally relaxed.  When I got up, the pain was completely gone.  When you relax, your body has the opportunity to address the issues at hand.  There are probably some reading this who have severe health issues thinking, “Sure, you are younger and in good health – easy for you to say!”  But I do invite you to take some time every day to relax completely and think positive loving thoughts about your body.  Your body does respond to the thoughts you think about it. Experiment and see what happens!

A friend in her sixties shared with me that she feels more like herself than she has since she was a child. I also feel that way. She explained that she is not dealing with midlife responsibilities so now she can pursue her passions.

I remember my life loving adventures – camping, solo canoe camping, backpacking, etc.  Now I don’t feel the push to do those things.  It was almost like I needed to prove something to myself.  Now I feel peaceful and more grounded, with the opportunity to put things in a healthier perspective. A friend in her seventies said she did not start feeling old until her friends started dying.  Then she started thinking about her age and her body started giving her challenges.  She also said she no longer does things to mark them off her list; instead, she only does things she finds fun.

Historically, cultures have turned to the elders for answers to life’s deepest problems. Unfortunately, in this modern age the reins of power and leadership often go to individuals who have not yet gained the experience and wisdom necessary to make good decisions.  There is a new philanthropic effort acknowledging that we once again need to access the wisdom of the elders to solve problems.  “The Elders,” an international non-governmental organization of twelve elder public figures – peace activists, noted statesmen and human rights advocates, was brought together by Nelson Mandala in 2007.  Its goal is to use the “almost 1000 years of collective experience” to work on solutions for seemingly insurmountable world problems such as poverty, human rights abuses, environmental issues, peace, and climate change.  Some of the elders are: Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson. You can learn more about this organization at http://www.theelders.org.

With all the years that we seniors have lived, how wonderful it is that we can guide the next generation toward making good choices! There is groundedness and power in that.  This phase brings the opportunity to explore life in a whole new way.  Let’s embrace all the qualities in us that have served us well and share our innate wisdom. Let’s nourish our precious relationships And above all, let’s honor each other and be supportive of one another’s life journeys.  There are more opportunities for us to explore than ever before.  Let’s not waste time!

Barbara Dupras is a retired Senior Center Social Worker and practices Energy Medicine.  She loves gardening, hiking, and kayaking in the Chocolay River, on which she lives.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2012 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2012.

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Exercise Your Age? by M. Moeller

When speaking with women in their 40s, 50s and 60s about what it takes to stay fit while getting older, these three qualities were mentioned across the age groups –  recognition, acceptance and adjustment.

Recognition: Deanna Koscielny, 41, of Marquette had children at a very young age, was always on the heavy side, smoked and besides hiking and an occasional aerobics class, never exercised until she was in a serious car accident in her mid-thirties. Luckily, her injuries were minor, but the accident confronted her with the reality that she only had one life to live. “You can’t take your health for granted,” Deanna said. “If I had not changed, I know I would now be on high blood pressure meds and probably have diabetes.”

Deanna quit smoking and started biking with a women’s bicycling group called Women Shifting Gears. She not only very much enjoyed her first mountain bike ride, she also connected with many other women in the group. Soon she had exercise routines and new friends. Over the years, Deanna became very fit, competing in races and challenging herself with different types of activities, including running a marathon this spring. Her job also changed – she now teaches others how to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle as part of a Marquette General Hospital program.

Acceptance: Marion Johnson, 53, of Ishpeming, was just entering high school when Title IX was introduced, and consequently ,women’s sports.  As a result, Marion participated in track and field and quickly became a successful sprinter. With her priority of raising children, Marion remained active throughout her 20s and 30s by introducing her children to outdoor activities like skiing, hiking and swimming.   As she entered her mid-40s with her children grown, Marion was able to shift her priorities back to her own activities with health and longevity now her primary goals for exercise: “As you age, you want to be fit to enjoy life.” So Marion stepped it up with road riding, mountain biking, running, and intense Cross Fit training.  She not only enjoyed the results of the training but thrived on the workouts as an important part of her daily routine.  Now in her 50s, Marion recently experienced a setback, tearing her meniscus while running.   She is still working through her recovery following surgery and realizing she may have to rethink her workout routines and perhaps scale the intensity back a bit. “It’s a reality check.”  Marion has accepted that the unexpected injury requires she make some adjustments in her   active lifestyle. Rather than quit, she will learn new ways to stay active and injury free.

Adjustment: Janet Koistenen, 61, of Gwinn has been an athlete all her life. As a child, her father encouraged her to be active outside, and as she grew older, she became a competitive runner and cross-country skier. Nowadays, Janet sees her sports as a way to have fun and to enjoy nature, so she is still very active in her 60s. However, over the years she did have to adjust some of her routines. For instance, after running on pavement for many years, knee pain prompted her to switch to trail running. Although trail running is often much more irregular than running on pavement, Janet said the softer surface makes it easier on her body. She also began adding bicycling and swimming to her routines. Mixing up activities, Janet said, contributes to her staying healthy enough to still run, swim, bike and ski regularly to this day. She even competes here and there, including the Copper Harbor triathlon, the Copperman, this August.

Adjusting to change, especially adjusting her mindset, has not been the easiest thing for Janet. About five years ago, during a cross country ski race, she realized it was time to change the way she was going about the sport. She said during the race she felt very competitive, thinking about beating the others. “I wanted that attention,” she explained. “I was doing it for all the wrong reasons.” Janet recognized she had forgotten to have fun with it, so she stepped away from racing and instead focused on teaching others. Teaching prompted further insight. Janet began surrounding herself with younger generations, whom she helped improve at sports and whom in turn motivated her to stay active, a win-win situation. Now Janet encourages folks her age and older to stay fit by being active with younger people. The Marquette area offers endless opportunities for generations to mix and exercise. A good introduction might be to start a sport with a grandchild or join a local sports club.

All the women agreed that no matter one’s age, fitness and a healthy lifestyle is achievable. It may take a bit of a leap for some, but very often that first step leads to not only a happier but also a longer life.

Miriam Moeller is a former journalist and creative writer. She currently works at Northern Michigan University in the International Programs Office. She loves biking, skiing and her dog Marla.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2012 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2012.

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Filed under Bodies In Motion, exercise, fitness, Uncategorized