Communication Strategies: The Ten Commandments

The Sounds of Life

Did you know that we hear with our brains? Our ears are like antennas that pick up sound and carry the information to an area in the brain called the Wernicke’s area. If this area of the brain is deprived of sound, it can atrophy. Don’t deprive your brain of sound and stimulation; get your hearing tested! Hearing Health Center has been changing lives for over 30 years. Don’t just take our word for it—see what some of our patients are saying in this video!

Cognitive Function and Hearing

Everyone (well, everyone over 50) worries about losing their memory and fears the “A” word…Alzheimer’s. We all know someone who has it; and we all panic at the thought of, “that could be me.” So we take care of ourselves. We try to eat better, exercise some, check our blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly and suffer through periodic prostate/mammogram/colonoscopy exams.



No one wants to admit or deal with difficulty hearing and understanding. The majority of people assume that frequently misunderstanding conversations and saying, “What,” “huh,” “pardon me,” all the time is just another unwanted consequence of getting older. Difficulty hearing is usually dismissed and ignored: even by your doctors. Most doctors don’t even ask about your hearing let alone include a hearing check as part of your routine physical.
A multitude of studies at John Hopkins¹, CUNY Graduate Center², and elsewhere³ have confirmed definitive links between untreated hearing loss and brain function.

  • You don’t hear with your ears. Your ears are just an appendage to catch the sound signals and send it to your brain to process.
  • There is a specific area of the brain (Wernicke’s area) whose sole purpose is to decipher and make sense of the sound it receives from your ears.
  • Your ability to hear, process and understand is directly related to your cognitive functioning.
  • When your hearing diminishes, your brain stops getting the stimulation it needs to process information.
  • Lack of adequate stimulation causes deterioration. It’s a classic case of “use it or lose it.”
  • Your brain’s ability to hear, understand and process sound information is directly related to your memory. You can’t remember what you didn’t hear!
  • 83% of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s have untreated hearing loss
  • Even a minimal decrease in hearing doubles the risk of dementia. A moderate loss (the majority of people seeking treatment) raises the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s 500%.
  • Every test of cognitive function was significantly worse in scores for mental status, memory and executive functions in those with untreated hearing problems.4
  • When your hearing diminishes, your brain stops getting the stimulation it needs to process information.
  • Hearing loss actually shrinks the brain one cubic centimeter every year due to the loss of grey matter and brain tissue.5
  • Diminished hearing ability significantly affects your kinesthetic sense of your environment. You are 300% more likely to lose your balance and fall when your hearing decreases.6
  • Early detection and treatment increases cognition, improves memory, preservers speech processing ability and enriches personal relationships
  • When treated with hearing aids, 33% of Alzheimer’s patients were reclassified to a less severe category
  • Appropriate hearing treatment increases cognitive function, enhances memory, improves balance and decreases depression.7
  • In every case, caregivers reported that hearing treatment improved their relationship.

Why do we frequently check our blood pressure, heart, cholesterol levels, moles, eyes and teeth? Why do we have regular checkups and examinations?
Because early detection and treatment is critical!

Difficulty hearing is not just an inconvenience and getting your hearing checked is no longer optional. Yearly hearing checkups are vital to your overall health can well being.
And it could save your brain!


  2. Weinstein, BE, Amsel, L (1986). Hearing loss and senile dementia in the institutionalized elderly. Clinical Gerontologist, 4: 3-15.
  3. JAMA Intern Med. Published online January 21, 2013
  4. Uhlmann, RF, Larson, EB, Rees, TS, Koepsell, TD, Duckert, LG (l989). Relationship of hearing impairment to dementia and cognitive dysfunction in older adults. Journal of the American Medical Association, 261(13): 1916-9.

Tinnitus (Ringing / Noises in your ears)

Click below to learn more

Balance Disorders

Balance disorders are very difficult to diagnose and treat because there is often more than one underlying cause. Knowledge of all the sensory systems that contribute to balance as well as how each system works together and interacts with the brain is essential.

How are balance disorders caused?

  • Benign Positional Vertigo (BPPV) – BPPV is the number one cause of all dizziness. It involves intense, brief episodes of vertigo associated with a change in the position of your head, often when you turn over in bed or sit up in the morning.
  • Vestibular Neuronitis – inflammation of the inner ear
  • Ménière’s Disease – a buildup of fluid in the inner ear
  • Vestibular Migraine – dizziness and vertigo that may or may not be accompanied by headaches
  • Head Trauma
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Stroke and heart attack
  • Slow-growing tumors
  • Joint and muscle weakness
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Viral infections

How are balance disorders diagnosed?

  • Case History: one of the most important components in diagnosing balance disorders. Details about the imbalance can often determine which part of the inner ear or brain is involved.
  • Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation: the hearing system and the vestibular system are very close in physical proximity. They function together. Any part of the ear can cause and/or contribute to a loss of balance.
  • Auditory Brainstem Response: tests both the ear and the brain by measuring the timing of electrical waves from the brainstem.
  • Voluntary Eye Movement Testing: measures the ability to coordinate eye movements with head movements crucial for walking, driving, etc.
  • Videonystagmography (VNG): computerized testing that measures, records and analyzes eye movements under various conditions.
  • Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP): measures and tracks all of the components (eyes, inner ear, muscles and joints) involved in maintaining balance.

How are balance disorders treated?

An individual treatment plan is designed for each patient based upon the patient’s history, the findings from the diagnostic testing performed and the functional limitations caused by the imbalance.
Treatment Types:
  • Epley Maneuver (treatment for BPPV): BPPV is a result of the displacement of small crystals (canaliths) inside the ear, which causes dizziness/vertigo. The Epley Maneuver is a series of head and neck position changes performed by the doctor, with the purpose of moving the displaced canaliths.
  • Balance Retraining: exercises designed to improve coordination of muscle responses in various situations.
  • Habituation Exercises: used to make the brain adapt to the dizziness. Purposely trying to evoke the dizziness so the brain can resolve the conflict between the brain and the inner ear.
  • Visual/Motor Exercises: strengthening gaze stabilization and eye/head coordination.
The goals of all treatment plans are:
  • Decreasing or eliminating dizziness/vertigo
  • Improving balance function and safety
  • Improving visual motor control and tolerance of motion
  • Increasing activity levels
  • Reducing falls or risks of falls

Hearing Self-Test

The Fisher Foundation's Wellness Mission!

The Fisher Foundation is on a mission to test 3,000 people this year... for FREE! Everyone over the age of 50 should have a baseline hearing exam as part of their preventative care. Help us to help five people you know by giving your family members and friends a referral. Who do you know that hasn't had their hearing tested in over a year? If everyone gave us the names of 5 people, we could reach our goal! (Fields marked with * are required.) [gravityform id="5" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]


What is Looping?

A hearing induction loop is a system that transmits sound wirelessly to people using hearing aids with telecoils (T-coils). The T-Coils pick up a magnetic field signal, produced by a hidden loop wire, and this signal is then amplified into a high-quality audio signal that is delivered directly into the ear of the hearing aid user. Looped places of worship, auditoriums, theaters, and home TV rooms broadcast their sound through these in-the-ear speakers, allowing people with hearing clarity issues to hear those broadcasted sounds without blasting the volume. Wherever you see this logo, it means that the venue is equipped with a hearing induction loop. hearing-loop-logoWe are very pleased to announce that all of our Hearing Health Center office locations now have looped waiting rooms. Please stop by or call if you would like a demonstration of this technology! For more information about hearing induction looping systems, please click on any the following links:

New York Times: A Hearing Aid that Cuts Out all the Clatter

From our blog: "What is Looping?"

There are many places in the Chicagoland area that are already equipped with hearing induction loops. Click here for a handy guide of looped venues in your area!