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January 6, 2005

Fair offers strategies to ensure hearing loss no impediment

From:, OR - Jan 6, 2005

The Lake Oswego event will involve businesses and exhibits on a problem that often builds gradually

Thursday, January 06, 2005

A s hearing drops off, communication can fade.

Those with hearing loss often don't know of the resources available, said Ed Larson, a past president of the Lake Oswego-based chapter of Self Help for Hard of Hearing People. Or they get overwhelmed by the options and cost.

"Frustration is such a part of loss of hearing," he said.

But the Lowestin Chapter, named for serving the communities of Lake Oswego, West Linn and Tualatin, can help.

Sometimes a person with hearing loss resists going out, said Lee Dake, a longtime member of the group, finding it kind of embarrassing to need others to repeat themselves.

"But when you are in a group of people who are hard of hearing," he said, "you don't mind asking, 'What did you say?' "

The group is presenting Solutions for Better Hearing: A Resource Fair on Tuesday afternoon at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center. David Viers, president of the Oregon SHHH, will be the keynote speaker for the free fair, and area hearing organizations and hearing aid businesses will have exhibits.

Larson said hearing loss can build gradually and come years after an event, such as continuous exposure to loud sounds on the job. He relates his hearing loss to his time in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and he also has ringing in the ears from tinnitus. His wife lost hearing quickly in one of her ears due to Meniere's disease.

Communication is difficult, he said, but they use special assistive listening devices to help and to enjoy a night of television. They've learned to cope through experience and what they've learned in the group.

Each monthly gathering includes speakers. They receive information about such topics as medical staff-patient communication, ear care, hearing ear dogs, the effect of certain medicines on hearing, balance issues, and technological developments such as digital hearing aids.

They also share personal experiences, said Dake, who developed tinnitus in both ears at an early age. As he got older, the buzzing grew more bothersome, but he has found relief from hearing aids. He said he's learned about life with a cochlear implant and about telephone systems that display a caller's words on a monitor.

Marsha Owen, an audiologist with the Hearing & Speech Institute in Portland which will have an exhibit at the resource fair, said the support and information from such groups can make a big difference.

Owen said groups and resource fairs help with specific information and practical solutions. She said those with hearing loss and their loved ones can come away with the feeling of being better able to cope.

"There's a lot to do, but I don't have to do it all by myself."

Maya Blackmun: 503-294-5926;

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