Shari Eberts & Gael Hannan

Habits & Health 88 - Shari and Gael - The Ministry of Hearing manifesto

Habits & Health episode 88 with Shari Eberts & Gael Hannan who are passionate hearing health advocates. They are authors of the book “Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss”.

Shari Eberts is an author, and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
Her book “Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss” (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide for living with hearing loss. Shari holds a BS in Psychology from Duke University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Gael Hannan is a hearing health advocate, writer, and speaker/performer who lives with profound hearing loss. She creates award-winning awareness projects that help people live more successfully with their hearing challenges, including the acclaimed one-woman show “Unheard Voices” a humorous memoir “The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss” and a regular blog for that has a passionate international following. Gael lives on Vancouver Island. “Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss” (co-authored with Shari Eberts) is the supportive how-to guide she wishes she’d had at the start of her hearing loss journey.
In this episode we explore many facets of hearing loss.

Favourite Quote - Shari

"If you can, you must"

Favourite Quote - Gael

"It’s not just about hearing. It’s about being heard."

Related episode:

88 – Shari Eberts & Gael Hannan


[00:00:00] Tony Winyard: Habits Health episode 88.

[00:00:13] Tony Winyard: Welcome to another edition of Habits & health. My guests this week are Shari Eberts & Gael Hannan. They’re both passionate hearing health advocates. Shari is an author and speaker on hearing loss issues. And she’s the founder of living with hearing, which is a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss.

And Gael is a writer, speaker performer, who lives with profound hearing loss and she has created an award-winning awareness projects that help people live more successfully with their hearing challenges. In today’s discussion. We talk about hearing loss. And the amazing amount of people that have this issue. And the ways that people get by with that, and hearing aids and many other issues around hearing loss. So that’s today’s episode with Shari Eberts & Gael Hannan. And if you know anyone who would get some value from this? Please do share the episode with them. And hope you enjoy this week’s show

Habits &, Health, and I have two guests today. It’s, Shari Eberts & Gael Hannan How are you?

[00:01:28] Gael Hannan: Fabulous. And how are you?

[00:01:30] Tony Winyard: Pretty good. So we are in North America today, but we are on different sides of the border,

[00:01:36] Shari Eberts: That’s right. That’s right. Thanks for having us.

so let’s start with, well, Sherry, so where are you? She

[00:01:42] Shari Eberts: in New York City.

[00:01:44] Tony Winyard: and are you original New York?

[00:01:46] Shari Eberts: I’m originally from New Jersey, so not that far away from where I grew up, but it seems like quite a big difference. A lot of taller buildings here now than where I grew up.

[00:01:57] Tony Winyard: And Gael, Where are you?

[00:01:59] Gael Hannan: I am on the far west coast of Canada on Vancouver Island, near Victoria, named after your former queen. And, but I grew up in Central Canada, in Toronto, so yeah, and I are on opposite sides of the 49th parallel. Yep.

[00:02:17] Tony Winyard: and so I’m wondering how did you two get to know each other? Because this episode we’re going to delve into hearing health and many areas around that. So I’m wondering how did you two first get to know each other?

that’s a terrific question and we love telling this story because it’s such a, it’s a fun one, but Gail and I were both, involved in hearing loss advocacy, so we had met each other. I think our first time was at a Hearing Loss Association of America Convention in St. Louis. And so it was, a really great opportunity for people with hearing loss to get together and advocates to meet each other.

[00:02:55] Shari Eberts: So Gail and I knew each other. We were friendly, we were friends with similar friends, and we were both bloggers and writers. but during the pandemic, Gail reached out. She had already written a book before, a memoir, a memoir slash survival guide, she calls it, right Gael? And reached out and said, Would you like to work on a project together?

And I was so excited because I really admired the advocacy that Gale was doing. And so I jumped at the opportunity, for us to work together.

[00:03:28] Gael Hannan: Yeah, I had, as Sherry mentioned, had my first book and so many books including mine, were memoir based in our stories and the strategies that we used to serve to get by. went through it, but I felt that it was really time to get back to a strategy focused book. such as there were in the early days when hearing loss started coming out of the closet, but they were pretty grim things that, this is hearing loss.

You’re gonna, you’re gonna feel depressed, you’re isolated. It sucks to be you a thing. And, but I needed to get back to those strategies. And Sherry’s very, strategic and a lot of her work focused on the tips and strategies. So I did reach out to Sherry, I felt that two, two stories, two narratives, two perspectives would just. have greater impact. And then we spent the entire pandemic writing the book. we didn’t until this past March, had not even seen each other in person for four years. So it was a pretty joyous process andand a fabulous reunion when we did get together. Cause yeah.

[00:04:36] Tony Winyard: And so is the book now finished?

[00:04:38] Gael Hannan: It’s published, it came out in May, and it became available in, your neck of the Woods Tony, in June, I believe. it’s available through Amazon UK and, and presumably bookstores as well.

[00:04:53] Tony Winyard: And so what is the title of the book?.

[00:04:57] Shari Eberts: It’s called Hear and Beyond Live skillfully with hearing loss, and the title was one of our biggest challenges, in terms of writing the book. Titling a book is much trickier than, I guess either of us really thought it would be. We knew what we wanted to write about and we knew what we wanted to write, but then how do you sum it up into that title so that people, can have that quick takeaway so they know that they need to read that book.

So we did finally arrive at the title and we’re pretty happy with it now. So that’s good news.

[00:05:32] Gael Hannan: And to give more meaning to it. The here obviously is h e a r, and beyond, and that is so much of what we believe is that you need more than a hearing aid. So many people think I get a hearing aid and, then I’m going to hear perfectly. Even worse than that. Your family and friend think that you should be hearing perfectly now that you’ve got a hearing aid.

but the reality is that most people with hearing loss need more than that. They need others. let’s call them strategies. Things that we need to do in order to communicate. And for Sherry and I, our goals really aligned on that. in talking about the book as we got ready to start the writing, we both realized that different points in our life, but we both came to the realized aha realization that. Our goal had to shift, and our goal wasn’t so much to hear better, but to communicate better because there’s more to communicating between people than just hearing. So that’s the beyond part of the book.

[00:06:38] Tony Winyard: And so what was the purpose of the book? Who do you hope to reach and how will it help them?

we’re hoping to reach a lot of people, obviously people with hearing loss to help them to live better with their hearing loss challenges, and also to feel a connection with other people with hearing loss. hearing loss can be very isolating and. and it leads to depression in a lot of cases because you have trouble communicating and so you isolate yourself and you lose that communication and relationships.

[00:07:08] Shari Eberts: So we are hoping that this book is going to be a way to really show people with hearing loss that they are not alone in what they’re struggling with, and also that there is a way to live skillfully and well with it, and we lay out that formula in the book, but we’re also really hoping to reach friends and family of people with hearing loss ,because I always say, when you have hearing loss, your family has it too, right?

Because they are involved, they’re the other side of that communication challenge. And so there are so many tips and strategies for people in the family and friends. The other, the communication partner. in the book as well. And then thirdly, we’re really hoping that people in the industry will take a good look at it.

audiology schools, people who are training, hearing care professionals, hearing aid companies. Cuz I think the more they can understand about the lived hearing loss experience, the better the products and services will be for people with hearing loss.

[00:08:12] Gael Hannan: And Sherry was talking about our goals and our hopes, and we’ve actually, the book was published in May and we’ve heard from so many people already. And I’m quoting directly here, we’re tooting our own horn. But this changed my life. This gave me courage to stand up and express what I need.

I’m sharing this with my family so they can better understand, because you can say it in a way that I haven’t been able to, the industry as well, early feedback from both hearing care professionals and the people who train them has been wonderful. already have a large community, Sherry and I, an international following.

For our work, what we want to reach are the other people who haven’t somehow connected with the hearing loss community, who are living their life day to day. That need this book even though they don’t know it. Sherry, I wrote this book cuz we didn’t have this book when our hearing loss journey started, we had no resources, no one to tell us how to do this better.

So this somehow we need to reach that larger community of what is really more than a quarter of any population. More than 25% of people have some degree of hearing loss. And even if you. Oh, I just got a little hearing loss. That is enough to impact your communication?

[00:09:37] Tony Winyard: 25%. Wow. Wow. Okay. That’s really surprised me.

[00:09:43] Gael Hannan: Give or take.

[00:09:44] Tony Winyard: how, in what ways will this help someone with hearing loss?

I think a lot of ways, I think it will help connect them to a community, I think they’ll see themselves reflected on the page. So some of the things that they have thought about, why did this happen to me? People don’t worry about my communication needs. A lot of sort of those negative thoughts and attitudes that you have about your hearing loss.

[00:10:10] Shari Eberts: You’ll see that reflected on the page, and then you’ll see that there are ways to sort oftransform those thoughts into more proactive, actionable ways of handling situations and approaching your hearing loss because if you approach it with a better attitude, Your hearing devices will actually work better, because you’re more willing to ask for the help that you need and more willing to experiment and be upfront about your hearing loss.

And so we really hope that it’s empowering in that way that it teaches us to think about our hearing loss in a different way so that we can work better to communicate even with the challenges.

[00:10:51] Gael Hannan: Sherry and I both had those experiences in our lives. different stories, different type of hearing loss, but we both learned that, whatever we were doing wasn’t working. We were trying to hide our hearing loss, and we were,steeped in the stigma of it and, worried about what other people thought about us.

When we finally realized. Hearing loss is a fact. it’s just what we have. And, if I’m gonna hide behind a wall of shame, my life is going to continue. communication is what connects people together and hearing loss can impact that. So until we can break through that wall of shame, sometimes people don’t realize they have it. Our communication will continue to not, be as good as it could be. And it impacts every relationship in our life. it’s really important for people to somehow find a way to go, Wait a minute, so I’ve got hearing loss. Yeah, this isn’t great, but, my relationships are important to me. What do I need to do?

[00:11:48] Tony Winyard: And so for both of you, have you had hearing loss since a child, or was it something that happened to you? can we maybe dig down deeper into to how this came about for both of you?

[00:12:03] Shari Eberts: So I first noticed my hearing loss in my mid twenties when I was in graduate school. So I was in this sort of big class and I would miss things that other students were saying, or sometimes the whole class would just burst out laughing and I would be looking around trying to figure it out. but my journey with hearing loss began really as a child, watching my father struggle with his own hearing loss.

He was very stigmatized by it, and he would do really almost anything to avoid having to admit that he had a hearing loss. He even had his hair, grown down over his ears. after that was fashionable. And I remember as a child seeing him sit off by himself, at family parties.

And it wasn’t really until I developed my own hearing loss that I understood why he was doing that. He probably was having so much trouble hearing and he just didn’t wanna give away the secret, I don’t know if it was a secret or not, but he was so worried that people might discover it. and so really for me, I took this stigma that he was projecting.

And really lived that for many years myself. Once I realized that I had hearing loss, and the catalyst for me to come out of that closet, out of that stigma closet was my children, because my hearing loss is genetic. I worry, I may have passed it on to them and I saw them watching me do the same things.

You know, I had watched my father do. Isolate myself. Laugh at Jokes I hadn’t heard, and I knew that I really needed to change this. I did not want to perpetuate this stigma through another generation. So that’s when I really turned to advocacy because I found that was one of the best ways to overcome stigma was to really learn as much as I could about hearing loss and then,learn to advocate for myself and others as well.

I was born with my hearing loss, so I first found out I had it when my mommy told me because my mum was, and my dad, they were my advocates. at a time. I’m in my, you used to say sixties, but honestly I’m in my late sixties. back in the dark ages,there were no teachers for deaf and hard of hearing, and my hearing loss was mild, but I still needed to sit at the front of the class.

[00:14:20] Gael Hannan: And so my parents were my advocates. When I left home at what, 19 or so, I had to become my own advocate and found that I wasn’t, in looking back, I wasn’t very good at it. I had a hearing aid finally, but I just went through life not knowing anything, not knowing anyone else with hearing loss.

And like Sherry, it was my child that was my catalyst for change. And I was expecting my baby and I was, oh my gosh, my hearing loss. what if I harm my baby because I don’t hear him? What if he burps and I don’t hear him? Will he blow up? Can someone help me? And there was no one who had this information, no books.

so I reached out to a hearing loss group in Canada. And went to a conference. I walked in that conference, one person, and I walked out another. I changed my life. I found out that my baby was going to be okay and, and if it wasn’t because of my hearing loss. and I just learned. So many things.

[00:15:18] Gael Hannan: The stigma just went off, just fell off me. I just, one brief story that demonstrates the aha moment. I was at the end of this conference, some of my new hearing loss friends and I, went out to a pub and we walked in the pub and no one else was there except a group of four people sitting in the corner.

Presumably hearing people. That’s what we call you people who can hear. Hearing people, and. I can tell you there, there is almost nothing louder on this earth than 10 people with hearing loss who have been drinking wine and beer. We were loud, really loud, and I was uncomfortable at first, but I was aware of the looks we were getting from the people in the corner.

And then I went, Wait a minute, so what? This is what hearing loss is like. This is it. I can’t do anything about them, about it. And that was, just, my go forward moment and the stigma was gone for me. I did have to learn a lot more about other strategies over the next few years, but it was a turning point in my life.

[00:16:28] Tony Winyard: So and so that story made me wonder what are the things that hearing people, as you say, fail to understand about people with hearing loss. What are the main things, do you think?

[00:16:42] Shari Eberts: I think one of the main things is that people think hearing aids are like glasses, and so they expect that, you put your hearing aids on and like with glasses, your vision sort of sharpens back to normal. That the same thing happens with your hearing. And it really is not the case. Hearing is much more complicated.

And so hearing aids make things louder and they do help with understanding speech in quiet environments, but they don’t bring the sound back to normal. And the other thing that hearing aids are not good at doing is distinguishing among sounds. So they can’t read your mind. We’re at a restaurant and they don’t know that I wanna hear the two dinner companions that I have, and I don’t wanna hear the clingy, clanking, glasses at the other table or the conversation in the kitchen. So they are helpful, but they are not a cure. They do not return the hearing to normal. So there’s a lot of extra work and concentration that’s required.

When you have hearing loss, there’s a lot of mental processing, right? I describe it as a game of Wheel of Fortune, right? So you have some of the letters that are filled in and some are blank, and then you have to use a lot of other strategies and skills to try and fill in those blanks, understanding what is the context, what are their lip movements, their facial expressions.

So it’s exhausting. Hearing is exhausting when you’re not a hearing person. It requires a lot of effort.

[00:18:15] Gael Hannan: And I think people with, hearing people, Because it is, it such an invisible disability. and it’s changeable. Like they, they don’t, sometimes they think we’re not trying. and sometimes you might hear something like, I, I’ll give the example, husband and wife sitting down at the breakfast table and, they’re having a good conversation. One of them has hearing loss next morning. Same husband and wife, same breakfast table. But the person with hearing loss is struggling and what you’re not paying attention or what, but it could be that person is tired. It could be that there was a bus going by outside? There’s, and so unless you have hearing loss, I hate to say it, but it’s one of those things that you really you can’t approximate the experience unless you have it.

you can get better at understanding it, which is why things like what Sherry and I talk about and what we talk about day in, day out and never get tired of it. trying to help people understand the impact of hearing loss on our lives.

And are, Imy and I don’t know much about this world at all, but my guess, or it seems to me, and I could be completely wrong and you’ll put me right if I am wrong, that in the last. 10, 20 years. There’s a lot things maybe have improved. There are of often captions now on TV programs and films.

[00:19:37] Tony Winyard: There’s more awareness of accessibility for people who do have issues with various things. Is that the case or not?

I think for sure, things are getting better. I always say this is the best time to have hearing loss, right? Because the technology is advancing so rapidly and I think that the pandemic in some ways,built up a lot of empathy for people with hearing loss because all of us struggle when people are wearing masks to understand and to communicate.

[00:20:04] Shari Eberts: So maybe that was a little bit of a taste, but I do think that there’s still a lot more work to be done. I think that understanding is growing, but I find that more often than not, the captions, aren’t there that I need. for you’re on a Zoom call, you need to make sure that you get in touch with the host well in advance so that they can go and put that into their settings and make sure that they remember to do that so that they can turn them on during the call so it’s heading in the right direction.

But I think there’s still a lot more advocacy and understanding that could be better.

And what we’re hoping, is in the United States there’s these new over the counter hearing aids that are coming out. I don’t know if you guys have heard about that, across the pond. but these are devices for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, and because hearing aids are so expensive, sometimes people aren’t able to have access to them, especially in the US And these would be lower cost options that would,work for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. And so what I’m hoping is that this will entice people to take care of their hearing a little bit sooner.

there’s a statistic that people usually wait, it could be seven to 10 years before they even begin to treat their hearing loss. And the more people that start to walk around with things in their ears and demand to hear well in all different types of situations, I’m hopeful that’s gonna bring down stigma.

[00:21:35] Shari Eberts: I’m hopeful that’s going to make these, accessibility things like captions and hearing loops much more common because everyone will demand them, not just the people with hearing loss.

[00:21:47] Tony Winyard: We have,some shops in the UK called Specsavers, which is obviously about eyes, I’m not sure when it started. As far as I’m aware, most Specsavers stores now also do hearing testing as well. and I don’t know if that’s the situation for many other optical stores, But is if someone does realize that their hearing is not what it was and it is starting to de deteriorate slightly, what would be the first step they should take?.

[00:22:17] Gael Hannan: Beyond that first step, which is really going, I think my hearing loss needs to be, my hearing needs to be checked. That is the first step. And then, We could say that you’re a family doctor, but we find, generally speaking,primary care doctors are still not up to speed on, taking care of their patients hearing.

But to go to a clinic and have an assessment, we, again, hearing loss is just a fact and that’s you’re going to find out whether you have it or you don’t. And so that is really the first step. And, there are so many. Clinics, these days, so many more clinics than there used to be even 10 years ago.

and some, Tony, I know, where I live there, one optical place does offer both, but most often you’ll find that they’re standalone hearing clinics, on their own, sometimes attached to hospitals,in our case, but usually stand alone. But that’s the first step. Get an get your hearing assessed and then you’ll have the facts of how to go forward.

[00:23:17] Tony Winyard: Say you were put in charge of, like the ministry for hearing or something along these lines, What steps do you think could be taken that would help people with hearing loss? What things do we, do you really need in order to, just to have a better life, that would be great to have a Ministry of Hearing, like the Ministry of Magic. That’s what made me think of . I think the first thing would be to recognize how important hearing is to overall health. And to really educate the public about that because hearing loss is associated with many other, health issues like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, isolation, depression.

[00:23:55] Shari Eberts: And there’s even been some studies that indicate having hearing loss and leaving it untreated is associated with a higher risk of dementia. And so that’s serious. that’s something that’s always puts terror into my heart. but there are studies that show that when you do treat it and you’re not as isolated and you continue to maintain relationships, that risk, does get alleviated.

So that’s positives. But I think there’s that education, that hearing is not just this second class, sense that we have. People tend to take care of their vision. And monitor their vision and know if they’re having a problem and know they need to do something about it. So the first step I think, would really be to put hearing, you know,up there in terms of a very important sense that connects us to the world and to people and impacts every part of our mental and physical wellbeing.

[00:24:52] Gael Hannan: And I think also it’s just to ensure accessibility laws. the, It’s getting better and it’s different in different countries. the ensuring that communication accessibility is there for everyone, just the same way as people who are wheelchair users, have physical access, who need to ensure that accessibility is in place for people with hearing loss and not just people who are signing deaf, but people who need visual information, to augment the hearing that they do or do not have. So that does vary from, country to country and,but again, education, accessibility, awareness and services for people with hearing loss that, that they can afford. So affordability is so important. I think that’s it.

If we were the ministry of Hearing Sherry, that’s what we would do. Hey,

[00:25:44] Shari Eberts: Can you arrange that for us? Tony? We would like. We would like to be the Ministry of Hearing.

I’ll say what I can do. I’ll have a word with some people.

[00:25:51] Shari Eberts: Okay.

[00:25:52] Tony Winyard: so you, I’m now thinking about actually taking care of taking care of your hearing and taking care of your ears. So just things like, I know that I’ve seen many people say that you, for example, you should never put a cotton bud into your ears to, to clean your ears, and I never, I’m never quite sure how accurate that is or, is that someone never should do, or, and if that’s the case, what is the most effective way to clean someone’s ears, for example?

[00:26:18] Gael Hannan: Well not audiologists, but I can tell you,what did you call them over there? Cotton buds. I call them, Qtip, I don’t know, but cotton swabs, right? no, you really should not use them because the fibers on that can, especially if people go in too deep, it can damage, your ear canal and your eardrum.

And, so however, On occasion I have done so, because it works. But I, there are other ways to clean your ears,with warm water cloth and in the shower, that sort of thing. but even more important or not just as important is protecting your hearing from noise damage, prolonged exposure to, prolonged exposure to sound above a certain decibel level, have the potential to impact your hearing. Those little hair cells that we have on our cochlea, 15,000 in each year, they, like the rest of our body, are prone to break down and even death if they are,too much noise. It did, just, eventually they go, That’s it.

I’m gone. And bit by bit as those hair cells die off, that’s when you’re, that. This type of hearing loss, occurred, which is most common. So really protect your ears. I’ve worked in this area for a long time and people are going to go. yeah. And it’s only when they go, Oh my gosh. listening to loud, headphones, for too long, loud concerts.

it does take a toll. And, we just gonna keep repeating the message that your hearing is precious. It is vulnerable. And take care of it though.

[00:27:54] Tony Winyard: So you mentioned about that, so we shouldn’t put be putting qtip into the ear, but, So I’ve wondered sometimes when you have these things, if you’re going to some kind of a concert and you, I can’t remember the name of them, what are the things you can put in your ear to quieten the sound?

Yeah. but don’t they, wouldn’t that have the same thing by putting that into your ear? Wouldn’t that it doesn’t have the same consequence. As putting a Q-tip into your ear?.

[00:28:19] Shari Eberts: I think the Q-tip, it’s a bit of a mystery, I think some of it is if you can, if you really get it in there, you can definitely damage. I think part of it also is that rather than extracting the ear wax, it’s actually pushing the ear wax. In as you’re inserting the Q-tip and ear wax, you know some level of it is important for your health of your ear, right?

But if you get too much in there, it can actually impede your ability to hear. So sometimes people are having trouble hearing, they go to a clinic and people say, Oh, you just have a lot of wax in there. And they take it out and then they’re able to hear again. I , wish that would be the case for, most of us, but it’s not the case for most of us, but for some people.

So I think that’s the risk, I think with earplugs. Usually they’re not going in as deep, because they’re bigger. and it’s really important that the seal is tight more so than the depth of insertion, right? They have to be to a certain point, but they would never be as deep, hopefully as, getting even close to the eardrum.

It’s a different animal altogether.

[00:29:26] Gael Hannan: Yeah. And there’s right ways and wrong ways to, insert, earplugs. And so what the earplugs do is, lower the decibel level. So when you have that, the properly inserted, you’re covering up your ear holes, for lack of a better word, your canal. And so that the decibel level, is much lower.

And quite often, 20 to 25 DB decibels, is enough to bring. so 80 to 85 decibels, is kind ofanything below that. Generally you’re gonna be fine, but I have to say everyone is different. but above that, the longer you listen to sounds above 85 decibel, the more, and it’s cumulative this noise damage when you wear ear plugs.

Here’s the good news. You are still going to hear that music concert. You are still, but the it cuts down on the reverberation and the vibration and the decibel, you’re going to hear it. In fact, in some ways, you’re actually gonna hear the music better because you don’t have that reverb. So it’s just a matter of putting them in properly and leaving them in.

Some people take them out, during a concert for a little while. then you might as well never put them in the first place. I, because with my hearing loss, I could incur more damage, although I’m pretty, can’t get too much worse. So I do not expose myself to loud noise. I just don’t wanna take the risk of any more damage.

But it’s an important message, and thank you for bringing it up.

[00:30:50] Tony Winyard: And if someone does have hearing loss and they’re at the point where they maybe do need some kind of a hearing aid, what do, what sort of things do they need to be? what do they need to look out for? is there anything that they do need to.

the most important thing I think, is making sure that they’re getting a quality product and that they’re getting assistance if they need it from a quality provider. there are many. Shoddy places online where you can go and you can order, your $25 amplifier. That’s gonna allow you to hear well.

if something is too cheap or too good to believe, it’s probably not what you want to be doing. You wanna make sure that you’re getting something that’s appropriate for your hearing loss. So the first step really, for most people is to get some type of a hearing test so that you have an accurate assessment.

[00:31:42] Shari Eberts: And that way you can choose the type of device that is appropriate for you, and one that comes from a brand name that’s trusted and then also finding, a hearing care professional that you can trust as well. One that uses person-centered care. That’s a fancy way of saying that they take your needs into account and really partner with you on your hearing care rather than just trying to sell you, the device where they get the biggest commission.

[00:32:10] Tony Winyard: So what would you say would be a yard stick for, for a good quality hearing aid? What sort of price would it start from, for a good quality.

that’s the million, billion dollar question, right? Because with these new over the counter hearing aids, we are hoping that you’ll be able to get quality devices that are made to standards. That are set by, the fda, the US Government Agency, that monitors that type of thing. But that if you have a more mild or a simpler hearing loss and you’re using hearing assistance, maybe it just situationally, maybe it’s not that that you need to wear all the time.

[00:32:48] Shari Eberts: We’re hoping that the price point, can be lower. Maybe it can be in the hundreds of dollars rather than in the thousands of dollars, which are. Be spending for a more complex prescription type hearing aid. But I know in the UK there’s the National Health Service, which I think provides quality brand name hearing aids, and I think they’re basically for free, right?

If you’re in that program. So that’s wonderful.

[00:33:12] Gael Hannan: I think that there is a waiting list, a long waiting list in, with the National Health Service and the price points for hearing aids vary. they’re actually more expensive in the United States than, they are in Canada. now we have universal healthcare here. But they don’t cover hearing aids.

So this is another thing in our ministry of hearing, that, yes, that we would make hearing aids available for everyone. but so they are less expensive here and there is some support by jurisdiction, so it does, I don’t know how much they cost in the uk. so it. But it, I just wanna go back to a point that Sherry said it’s really important to get, a quality hearing care provider, someone you can understand to begin with, someone who cares about your needs, and someone who will talk about the other strategy that Sherry and I base our work on.

So it’s not just the hearing aid, but it’s other technology, like we’re using great technology here. It’s the mental attitudes and or your attitudes towards hearing loss and moving out of the shame, and also learning the other, what we call communication game changer. These are the interpersonal skills that can change a conversation.

Feeling comfortable enough in self identifying, advocating for your own need, being able to say comfortably, “the music’s too loud” or could you face me all of these things? learning to speech read better, learning to not, bluff. Sherry mentioned early on, she laughed at jokes that she didn’t get. This is called bluffing and it is the, We all do it, even hearing people I know.

but it pretending we understand what’s going on. Oh gosh, we, no, that ship has sailed. We do not know what’s quite going on, but we’re really good at pretending. We nod, we smile and we, we leave conversations not knowing what went down. Did we agree to something? You leave a meeting and you have to go to a colleague and go, Oh, can you tell me what went on in there?

[00:35:10] Gael Hannan: We are bluffing and, we, we talk a lot about how we can minimize this very negative,strategies, a negative strategy. but these are other things that are really crucial to compliment the technology in our life zone. It’s what we call the three-legged stool mind shifts, changing our attitudes, technology self-evident, and these communication game changers.

[00:35:35] Tony Winyard: So what would you say are the best ways for people to take care of their hearing and their hearing health?

the first thing is to have it evaluated on a regular basis. I think treat it like you do your vision. Make sure that you’re aware of the status of your hearing. also to protect it whenever you’re in loud places, to value your hearing, and to make sure that if you’re going to a concert or you’re going to be exposed to loud noise, that you are doing something to prevent hearing loss.

and just to interrupt. And when you say that, would that be applicable for any age or just for over a certain age?

[00:36:13] Shari Eberts: 100% any age. your hair cells. are very sensitive no matter how old you are. My, my poor children, right? Cuz my genetic hearing loss, I was always worried that I would be passing it on them so they were never allowed to have earbuds. Because that puts the sound so close to the cochlea in your ear that I was just always so worried and they would hate that as teenagers, they were not allowed earbuds, like all their friends. I eventually broke down during the pandemic when they were doing school, but, but it’s something that at any age we need to be aware of. And I do think that as part of that Ministry of Hearing, we really like this idea, is that there needs to be education in schools as part of, the health curriculum so that children understand how important it is to take care of their hearing because it’s something that’s not always taught.

I ran a program in Canada for years, a program for elementary students, called Sound Sense, and the program that went into, many schools across the country and aimed at, grade six and then, down to grade four. about this very thing, and I can tell you they went, yeah, that’s great.

[00:37:25] Gael Hannan: But they went on to do all the things they shouldn’t do, but at least they had a bit of that information. You try and tell a teenager they can’t listen to their music loud. but then try and get them again when they’re at twenties and thirties and forties. because at any age, those hair cells are vulnerable.

[00:37:43] Tony Winyard: Is there a question or questions you can think of that I haven’t asked you about hearing that you think the listeners should know?

maybe we could just ask them to, vote for us to be in the Ministry of Hearing so that we can, at the next election.

[00:37:58] Shari Eberts: yeah. I think one other thing, perhaps that, that we haven’t talked about is the importance of peer support for people with hearing loss. And that it really, for me, it was a life-changing thing, like Gail was talking about how she went to that convention and then she met her, hearing loss friends.

And for me, when I started meeting other people with hearing loss, it was also life changing. I was battling so much of this stigma, and it allowed me to see that there were other people who had similar challenges, but they were such great role models. They were living successfully. They had great careers, they had great relationships, they had wonderful lives, and so it gave me hope that I could overcome this challenge.

And that I wouldn’t have to let hearing loss isolate me like I have watched it do for my father. So there are lots of different ways to connect with other people with hearing loss. if you’re a little bit nervous about that, which I could definitely understand. That you can start, just dip your toe in the water online.

There are a lot of Facebook groups for people with hearing loss. I manage one that’s called Living with Hearing Loss. There’s also one that’s run by Hearing Loss Association of America where everyone can join that no matter where you live, obviously. there’s one I think that also is like the UK Hearing.Loss group I, I’ve seen. So it’s a way to go in and connect with other people a little anonymously if you like, but you have to be careful Sometimes there’s lots of misinformation or naysayers, so be careful. Make sure you pick a group that seems to be positive and well monitored. And then if you really wanna be brave, you know there are local chapters throughout the uk I think through Hearing Link.

there’s Hearing Loss Association of America in the US and in Canada there’s the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association. Really everywhere you are in the world, there’s some sort of association of people with hearing loss. And so that’s another way to go interact with people in person or even, through Zoom meeting.

[00:40:08] Shari Eberts: And learn more and just connect with other people who have the same struggles. It’s always very helpful.

[00:40:15] Tony Winyard: We started talking about your book earlier, Hear and Beyond, and on the subject of books, a question I always ask all my guests is there a book that moved you for any reason? So if we could start with, we’ll start with Gael. So what, how would you answer that question? Is there, It doesn’t necessarily need to be related to hearing, but is there any book that has moved you?.

[00:40:37] Gael Hannan: I. Loved. I’m a big reader, so I’ve met, I read a lot, but a book, that I love is called Bird by Bird, and it’s by the American writer and Humorist, Anne Lamont. And I read it, because it’s about writing, but it’s also about life. And I just found that she taught you to take little snapshots when you’re focusing on something.

It just helped me to focus, It helped me become a much better writer. And,it’s a wonderful book that I always recommend when people say, I’d like to write a book too about hearing loss. I’ve got a lot of stories. I’m not making fun of them because this is great. I encourage this, but I also encourage the reading of, Bird by Bird.

[00:41:22] Shari Eberts: I think I recommended it to you, Sherry, as well, Yes. That was one of the things that Gail had mentioned right when we first started working together. She’s You have to read this book, . And so I did, and I love that. We say, book by book, right? So in the book by there’s this, project that someone has to do and how do you start something that’s so daunting ell you just go Bird by Bird

so for us it’s sort of book by to get our message out and hopefully to help as many as we can.

[00:41:54] Tony Winyard: And what is the book that comes to mind for you, Sherry?

[00:41:58] Shari Eberts: So I also love lots of books, but I am very, devoted to my yoga practice and went to a yoga teacher training a number of summers ago, and one of the books that was recommended there is called The Four Agreements. And so it’s a, it’s a book that sort of lays out a philosophy for how you can live well and reduce unnecessary suffering.

And so that just really resonates with me because I think that’s a little bit, what we’re trying to do with this book too, here and beyond, is to give you the skills. And the strategy so that you can reduce unnecessary suffering. Don’t bring this onto yourself. Be open to the positive things that your life can be

[00:42:44] Gael Hannan: I’ve gotta read that book, The Four Agreements I, Okay, that’s next on my reading list.

it’s a fabulous book. It’s a really good book. and if people wanna find out more about you, and obviously the book is available at all bookstores, but where do you have social media, website and so on.

[00:42:59] Shari Eberts: Yes, the website for the book is, so h e a r, obviously. And then my website is living with hearing and Gael’s is

[00:43:17] Gael Hannan: Which is perennially under renovation. I strongly recommend hear and And we also have a strong presence, both of us on social media, on Facebook and LinkedIn as well. And I’m also on Twitter, so it shouldn’t be hard to find.

and finally, to finish, I always ask if there’s a quotation that really resonates with you for any reason and. why does it resonate? So let’s start with Sherry this time. Have you got a quote that you particularly like?

[00:43:48] Shari Eberts: So my quote again is comes from my yoga background, and it’s, if you can, you must, and to me that means that, you are able to take that next step and improve things that you need to go ahead and push yourself to take that risk and to take that next step. And so I really try and live by that.

[00:44:10] Gael Hannan: My quote, it’s a little embarrassing. it’s something that I say and, so my favorite quote is my own. but it’s been my byline for years. And it’s not just about hearing, it’s about being heard. And this is, our philosophy in what we talk about in, in our book, but our advocacy and it’s also for life.

It’s not just about you, it’s about the bigger picture as well. It’s not just about hearing, it’s about being heard.

Gal and Sherry, thank you for this. I think this is gonna be really informative to a lot of people and hopefully really helpful to a lot of people, so thank you.

[00:44:45] Shari Eberts: Thank you for having us. It’s been a lot of fun.

[00:44:48] Gael Hannan: It’s an honor. Thank you so much, Tony.

[00:44:51] Tony Winyard: Next week is episode 89 with Lindsay Byrn. Who is a functional medicine certified health coach. And a certified re code 2.0 health coach, which means she specializes in helping people reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. And typically she works with couples where one partner is noticing some cognitive decline.

And she helps people to get their partner the back reversing the symptoms without going down the road of pharmaceuticals and using natural approaches to address the root causes. So that’s next week. We’ve Lindsay Byrn. All around Alzheimer’s. If you know anyone who would get some value from this week’s episode with Shari Eberts & Gael Hannan do share the episode with them and hope you have a great week

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