Do not neglect your hearing. It is one of the most important things you can do for your health and wellness.
Debi Lynes (00:03): Hi and welcome to aging in place for every stage in life. What if you could visit or have a home that would accommodate anyone at any age, any physical ability at any time? How cool would that be? That’s what we’re doing here at aging in place. Why me? Because I’m a doctor of psychology and I specialize in physical spaces in health and wellness. Also, I love designing with intent at any age. Why now? Because we the baby boomers want to age in place gracefully and we want our families around us as much as we can and why you the audience? Because we want you to experience what it’s like to have a home that’s safe, aesthetically pleasing and that you can live in at any age with any ability at any time. I’d like to introduce you now to Aging in Place Podcast for every stage in life.
Debi Lynes (01:04): Hi and welcome to Aging in Place Podcast for any stage in life. I am here with my friend Natalie Lucas and we’re talking about optimal hearing. Yes, I am thrilled to talk to her. She and I have actually done TV together. Right. So this is going to be fun. We’re going to have to use our….
Natalie Lucas (01:20): New senses.
Debi Lynes (01:21): Our senses of listening today.
Debi Lynes (01:24): Challenging me today.
Debi Lynes (01:25): Exact, this is your area of expertise. You know, what I’d really like to start is a little bit about your background cause it’s pretty fun and exciting and how you got into this area from television production.
Natalie Lucas (01:38): Right. I was a TV producer for almost 20 years with a major news organization and was part of a mass layoff. So for me it was a midlife crisis, right on cue. I was 40 years old and I was going, what am I going to do with the rest of my life? I went to see a life coach just completely blindly this kind of seek out some information. The one thing I knew I didn’t want to do was stay in television news.
Debi Lynes (02:15): Okay. Wise woman.
Natalie Lucas (02:18): Correct. And I’m thankful every day. And so I was, went to a life coach and was learning that I wanted to do something that was more fulfilling, more satisfying to my heart and soul. I wanted to grow up people.
Debi Lynes (02:33): To grow up with your values.
Natalie Lucas (02:33): Right, right and wanted to, I wanted to help people and have a little bit more connection to people and it made sense to do that with seniors just because when you look at what the millennials and the younger generations are doing, they’re maybe not quite as plugged in or active.
Debi Lynes (02:51): Did you initially have a lot of testing done? Did you have kind of inventories done to kind of gear where you were interested?
Natalie Lucas (02:59): I did some kind of personality testing along the way. If you’ve been out there long enough, somebody is going to get you with a personality test. Right. But um I did not do that in kind of an official capacity when I was searching. I just was kind of doing some soul searching, meeting with this life coach and talking it out and doing research along the way. It made sense to look into health-related fields.
Debi Lynes (03:23): Smart. That makes a lot of sense. Why hearing why, what do you think it was that interested you about that?
Natalie Lucas (03:29): I know exactly what it was. The way that I ended up with this company was that I was at an oyster roast and I got talking with the president of the company who was engaged to a friend of mine. So at just as, so many things happen, but being a producer, I went home and started researching it. The reason that I fell in love with hearing was because so much is unknown still about how we hear, how we process language, how important hearing is to the brain. And so that kind of peaked my intellectual curiosities as I started digging. And how important hearing is, but how disregarded it’s been doctors, the medical community, people just kind of let their hearing go and don’t treat it.
Debi Lynes (04:15): Well think about it when, when I think about hearing, I think the biggest shock I had, and you don’t know what you don’t know, you don’t think about it. When I went in for my own hearing test, hearing analysis, and then was told, you know, you’re not, you’re 60 and you really don’t need them. But if you kind of get into it, you, it’s probably a good thing. You’re pretty close. You’re right on the cusp. And I was like, Oh great. You know will insurance pay for those? No. No. And I was like, what? No, no. And to me that signified that they’re a luxury item. And it was shocking to me because once I had hearing aids, I didn’t realize how much I didn’t and hadn’t heard until I had them. And, and now I can’t even imagine life without them.
Natalie Lucas (05:07): It’s funny to me just because I tend to believe we have known so little about how the brain works for so long that people kind of just disregarded hearing you dealt with hearing loss, it was expected to happen. It came with aging. But guess what? So does eyesight, your eyesight diminishes as you age. For the vast majority of people were taking eye tests. As kids, we’re having our eyes checked throughout our lives. When our eyesight starts diminishing. We go and get glasses.
Debi Lynes (05:38): So interesting.
Natalie Lucas (05:38): And ears, for some reason people would just say, huh, that’s expected. I don’t hear anymore. That’s baloney. I don’t, you know, that’s, that’s not cool to me.
Debi Lynes (05:49): So optimal hearing, tell me about the company itself.
Natalie Lucas (05:52): The company itself is a family-owned and operated company. They’ve in business since 1961. The patriarch of the family wore hearing aids and so he started going door to door in 1958 selling hearing aids, which if you can imagine what a 1958 hearing aid was. And his son took over the company I believe in the 80s. Okay. Three of his four children are our vice presidents and hearing loss runs through their family. So, so many of them wear hearing aids which makes them very service-oriented because as hearing aid wearers, they really know the other side of the coin too.
Debi Lynes (06:31): We’ll serve folks who haven’t worn hearing aids. These are not your great-grandmother’s hearing aids. And number one, these are, we were just laughing about this. These are in my words, soon to be fashion accessories because I mean mine does, has Bluetooth. It pretty much can do most anything. Talk to us about some of the newer styles or not so much styles but what, what hearing aids can and can’t do.
Natalie Lucas (06:53): You know these days and when you talk about fashion accessories. I fully believe one day they will be once upon a time and once upon a time you know, eyeglasses were big old round Coke bottle glasses and now snazzy and really cool glasses on. Now they’re just two-tone with the fade and people wear designer glasses. That’s going to happen with hearing aids I think. Because the younger generations are all growing up with pink and neon cords hanging from their ears, iPods, iPods and Bluetooth devices and AirPods AirPods stuff, stuff hanging from our ears all the time now. Um I’m constantly trying to talk my patients into getting red hearing aids or blue hearing aids. Why not? Exactly. I only have one, one woman who is hysterical, she got a red one and a blue one cause she’s a Patriots fan.
Debi Lynes (07:46): When I was getting on it, what’s the big choice? Do you go neutral or do you go to a Rose gold or whatever? And I’m thinking at that time I’m thinking to myself, really, I can’t see it. So I don’t really care.
Natalie Lucas (07:58): Everybody goes neutral, but I say go bold. You know? And I think as I think as the baby boomers start moving in and getting a little funky and the aging hippies I think, we’ll start seeing more bedazzled and designer hearing aids and colored hearing aids. Why not?
Natalie Lucas (08:14): All right. What age do you think people should, well, you’re going to tell me from the time you’re a little on out, right? How often and when should I begin to get hearing tests?
Natalie Lucas (08:22): I’m thrilled to see now that sometimes there are hearing screenings for kids in school. And that’s important. I mean, starting from a young age, it used to be people who had hearing loss sometimes would get up into their four or five, six, seven and not be diagnosed. And that doesn’t help anyone. But certainly I think as you get into your middle age peers, all those fun years, which I’m right in the middle of right now, when you get there, you know, you need to start just go find out, you know, get a baseline.
Debi Lynes (08:52): Do people know if, It you know how I F I think I was 58 and because I was a therapist I would be talking to my patients and a lot of them were teenagers and I found myself as the years went by, you know, that 18 inches of space I would get closer and closer and closer. You’re kind of bugging me, step back. And it was weak because I could not understand them. I felt like I could hear, I couldn’t understand and I didn’t realize there wasn’t much of a difference in that. We’re going to take a quick break. Yeah. We’re going to come back and can we talk a little bit about that again, hearing isn’t always the sound. Sometimes it’s the understanding.
Natalie Lucas (09:41): Very good reason why you felt that way.
Debi Lynes (09:43): Stay with us. We’ll be right back here on aging in place, the podcast.
Debi Lynes (09:48): Hi, I’m Dr. Debi Lynes. Design elements are psychologically and physically supportive and conducive to health and wellness. To learn more about what Lynes on Design can do for you, for more information on certified aging in place and facilitative and supportive design, look for us at lynesondesign.com. That’s L-Y-N-E-S on design dot com.
Debi Lynes (10:13): We are back here on Aging in Place Podcast for any stage in life. I am here with my friend Natalie Lucas, optimal hearing and we’re talking about hearing loss and it’s, it’s funny in the F in the previous segment I said when I first noticed anything, it wasn’t that I felt like I couldn’t hear. I felt like I couldn’t understand.
Natalie Lucas (10:31): If I had a dollar for every time somebody came into my office and said, I cheer just fine. It’s just that everybody mumbles.
Debi Lynes (10:39): That damn TV.
Natalie Lucas (10:40): A very wealthy woman. For the most part, when people start losing their hearing I say for the vast majority of cases, when people start losing their hearing, they start losing high frequencies first. And that’s because high frequencies are most exposed on the cochlea to sounds coming through the ear.
Debi Lynes (10:58): Okay, stop. Here’s now I love this. My favorite part, what I do A what is a cochlea? B What is high frequency?
Natalie Lucas (11:05): Okay, so cochlea is the inner ear. Okay. You have the external ear canal, your middle ear and your inner ear and the cochlea. And the inner ear is kind of the hearing organ, if you will. And High frequency. A dog whistle high pitch. Got it. High pitch. Okay. Okay. So in our language we have low-frequency sounds that are vows and hard consonants such as A – D – B. The volume of our words comes from all of those letters. And then we have high-frequency, non-voiced consonants. We don’t use vocal chords to make any of these sounds, so we can’t make them louder or softer. [k – t – p – h – sh – a] Oh yeah. So what happens is people start losing their high frequencies first for the middle of the ear. And when that happens, you’re hearing the root volume base of the word, but you’re missing those subtle nuances. And our language, those high-frequency non-voice continents help determine and distinguish and differentiate one word from another. So you’re losing the subtle nuances [k – t – p – h – sh – a]. It makes a word a word.
Debi Lynes (12:21): So typically would we, and I think I found myself looking at for work arounds, I would listen much more for context and content rather than individual words. But I again, I was so surprised at the difference when I actually had the opportunity to have a hearing device.
Natalie Lucas (12:44): People start, well, you know, we use a lot of tools to communicate. So when you’re experiencing hearing loss and it’s untreated, you’re relying on your brain to fill in information from context. You’re more focused at looking at faces, seeing lips, reading, kind of the full picture. And when hearing loss will most often highlight itself is in complex listening environments. If you’re in a noisy restaurant with a group of friends, if you’re watching TV with a lot of sound effects and background noise and flat screen speakers.
Debi Lynes (13:14): I also found that anytime I watched a foreign film or a film accent are so bad.
Natalie Lucas (13:20): They’re so difficult for people because you’re already experiencing some hearing loss and trying to lean on filling in the blanks and then with an accent that kind of handicaps you.
Debi Lynes (13:31): So talk to me about what hearing tests looked like in today’s world.
Natalie Lucas (13:34): A hearing test. If you go and get a good hearing test, they’re gonna want to find out about you, a case history, if you will. What’s going on, what situations are you having trouble, where do you think it came from? Do you have any ringing in your ears? Should be a good discussion up front about what’s going on. The hearing test itself is a combination of what we call pure tones that’s hearing tones or beats of different frequencies or pitches from low to medium to high and then their speech testing. And that’s testing how your brain is processing speech. So here is two fold your ears ability to get speech up to the brain and the brain’s ability to process it. So then you’ll do some speech testing and then you’ll end with some bone conduction and that’s actually presenting tones or pitches to your mastoid bone. And what we’re doing there is looking for what we would call a conductive element, some type of blockage in the middle ear or earwax or something that is helping us diagnose what type of hearing loss you have.
Debi Lynes (14:40): One of the most interesting things you said when you first came in was that hearing loss was linked to a lot of medical conditions. Is it more of a is hearing loss a, is there a correlation between that and let’s say heart disease or, or how does all this work?
Natalie Lucas (15:03): Well, you know, I laugh with my patients all the time. That old song when you were a kid, leg bones connected to this. Yes, we’re all interconnected. And so a lot of conditions are interconnected. When we speak of things like heart disease or diabetes, people with heart disease and diabetes have higher rates of hearing loss. And a lot of that has to do with circulation and blood supply to the inner ear. If you start constricting and limiting the blood flow to the inner ear is going to kill off the little hairs I for up to the brain. So a lot about that. So we see, particularly with diabetes, it’s a big indicator of possible hearing loss because people are, have reduced circulation and blood flow to the inner ear.
Debi Lynes (15:52): And talk to me about hearing loss and dementia because I know that as my mom’s hearing deteriorated, it seemed as though cognitively there was a, it got, she got worse and worse cognitive.
Natalie Lucas (16:08): Without a doubt. And major studies are now proving that that.
Debi Lynes (16:12): So dad, where are your hearing aids please. Please dad, where you’re hearing it’s please.
Natalie Lucas (16:19): So what we’re learning is that when people go with untreated hearing loss, what you’re doing is you’re disengaging, you’re withdrawing from society, from conversation, from people. You’re disengaging and you’re retreating within your own head. People get tired of asking people to repeat or they’re embarrassed by it. And so we all have been in tough times in your life, you’ve all kind of learned, I think most of us have learned somewhere along the way that the best place for you to be is not always inside your head.
Debi Lynes (16:53): No, isn’t that so true?
Natalie Lucas (16:53): And so, you know what hearing aids do is keep you engaged and keep you plugged in. But hearing is also stimulation fitness, if you will, for the brain. So it keeps your brain stimulated and healthy and fit and active. And they’re proving right now that early adoption of hearing aids and consistent wear of hearing aids will, in fact, ward off dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, risk of falls. These are major studies coming out that are showing that no, just going along as is and saying, okay, I’m old. I don’t hear anymore. Well that’s not the way to go.
Debi Lynes (17:28): I found that and you and I have talked about this when we’ve just had our conversations. I found that exactly like my monovision or my contacts. If I, I just decided I needed them. It wasn’t like, Ooh, should I shouldn’t. I would have pain this, that or the other. And I remember the month I hear and tell me, is this true? Is there sort of a adaptation period where your, your body sort of recaptured?
Natalie Lucas (17:56): Absolutely. You’ve got to, you’ve takes people a really long time for the most part to lose their hearing unless there’s a traumatic event or a virus or something that takes their hearing. So you’ve spent all these years slowly diminishing your hearing and then we bring it back to you at all, all at once. That can be overwhelming for the brain saying, yeah, dishwasher big time.
Debi Lynes (18:17): My two year old [grandchild] wooh..
Natalie Lucas (18:20): It takes time to adapt. You’ve got to give it time to adapt and it’s no different than if you were to get glasses or contact lenses. Your brain needs time to adjust to a new reality.
Debi Lynes (18:28): Can we take a quick break again and come back and talk about sort of what is trending or what is on trend for hearing devices and where we are going with the future. And I’d also like to talk about how long hearing aids last. So stay with us. We’ll be right back here on aging in place.
Henrik de Gyor (18:48): For more podcast episodes, links, information and media inquiries, please visit our website at aginginplacepodcast.com as we transition through life with the comfort and ease you deserve, discover how you can create a home that will adapt to you as you journey through life and the changes it will bring. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as our host Debi Lynes and her expert guests discuss relevant topics to creating a home for all decades in life. Don’t miss our weekly episodes of Aging in Place Podcast for every stage in life.
Debi Lynes (19:25): We are back here on aging in place for any stage in life. Natalie and I are laughing and talking about hearing devices and glasses and I guess these are medical conditions. I’d like to know a little bit about what is on-trend. What you are seeing is new and improved in hearing devices and kind of where we’re going.
Natalie Lucas (19:42): Yes, you want them red and blue bold colors. Yo, I want put dazzled and styled. I want them to be accessorized fabulousness. Um.
Debi Lynes (19:55): I don’t know it, it’s an awful lot of competition with what the area needs.
Natalie Lucas (19:58): Maybe we can kind of coordinate them.
Debi Lynes (20:00): I’d be in for that. I’d be down for that.
Natalie Lucas (20:02): For the most part, the industry is all moving towards rechargeable using a lithium-ion battery and getting rid of the old hearing aid batteries. That’s problematic for a lot of people because fine motor skills and plus it’s the same old battery and lots of new technologies. So there’s hearing aids drain the batteries really fast, especially.
Debi Lynes (20:22): My dad has those with rechargeable. It drives me absolutely cuckoo because I feel like they spend more time on the recharge or then they do.
Debi Lynes (20:31): The original ones did and they’re improving on that. There are some rechargeable hearing aids out there now that have a 30-hour battery life, so you never have to worry about the first rechargeables would start dying on you every day at about dinnertime, right when you really need them. Right. So they’re improving on rechargeability moving. I think the whole industry will hopefully be there in five or so years. They’re everything is to pairing and connecting with a cell phone and Bluetooth capability, streaming, taking phone calls through your hearing aid.
Debi Lynes (21:01): You love that.
Natalie Lucas (21:02): Streaming music and books, books on tape. I have a patient who walks five miles every day and listens to her books on tape.
Debi Lynes (21:08): And I listened to my, whenever I’m out walking, I love the music through my hearing aid. It sounds great on the treadmill.
Natalie Lucas (21:14): They’re really fancy earbuds. And we’re, we’re getting more and more capable of doing more things with them beyond just hearing. There are some hearing aid manufacturers that are turning the hearing aids kind of into a Fitbit or an activity tracker or a fitness or health tracker, tracking your heartbeat, your heart rate, your steps can do all sorts of things there. I’m not sure how far that will go if that’s more of like a short term kind of testing the waters out. We’ve got so many devices that can do that. Our phones, our watches.
Debi Lynes (21:48): Are most hearing devices now. Mine go over the back of my ear and I think the microphone is back there, right? Correct. Are there different, I don’t want to say styles cause I’m not really interested in this style, but different kinds. I’ve seen some that are just go into the ear.
Natalie Lucas (22:04): Every hearing aid manufacturer is going to make a hearing aid that goes behind the ear and maybe a big one that goes behind the ear. We would call that a BTE. That’s for people who are severely or profoundly deaf, a lot of power. Then the general behind the ear one like what you have, what many many people have. Those tend to be the most comfortable to wear they can fit a variety of types of losses and because there’s more real estate, because the unit is behind your ear, you can put more features into them, but it’s also not suitable for everybody who maybe don’t have the fine motor skills to work the little wire into your ear.
Debi Lynes (22:43): Yeah I think that’s, that’s been a hard, now that it’s when she, it’s kind of like contacts like we talked about. Once you get used to putting them in and taking them out.
Natalie Lucas (22:52): You have to learn the shape of your ears. We’re all different and most people have never thought about the inside of their ears until they end up in a set of hearing aids.
Debi Lynes (22:59): And again, I always use my dad to talk about, but it has absolutely driven him nuts. Not to hearing aids per se, but getting him in and out.
Natalie Lucas (23:06): It can be hard. People who have really twisty, windy or narrow ears or prolapsed ears that can be very hard in those cases. And in cases where maybe people don’t have good motor skills or other needs, maybe they have dementia and Alzheimer’s and caregivers, we can look to a custom hearing aid and those are the kind that just fit in the ear. They can go from very, very tiny to filling up the whole ear. Um and with a custom, what we’re doing is it’s a closed fit. We’re blocking out everything, all of the natural sounds. So they tend to be better for people who have more severe or flat low loss, meaning they don’t have any good hearing to lean on.
Debi Lynes (23:47): Once you get a hearing device, do you tend to not lose any more hearing? How does or how does all that work there?
Natalie Lucas (23:54): Sensory neural hearing loss. It can be age-related presbycusis is what you call that. It can be genetic noise induced ototoxic medicines can cause it.
Debi Lynes (24:07): Like grateful dead end days.
Natalie Lucas (24:09): Exactly the Rolling Stones somebody the other day said as she thought her hearing loss stem from Bon Jovi, it can be ototoxic medicines and said sort of certain medicines that doctors prescribed to fix one thing and damage your hearing. Things like chemotherapy and radiation. So there’s so many internal and external variables. There’s no way to predict.
Debi Lynes (24:32): Is there an ear device hearing device hygiene that we need to know about or even eat ear hygiene that would be preventative or helpful?
Natalie Lucas (24:45): Not really, I’m sometimes amazed, you know, you should check on the cleanliness of your ears every once in awhile. That’s not a bad thing to do. You don’t.
Debi Lynes (24:58): There some people produce more wax than others.
Natalie Lucas (25:00): Some people produce gobs and gobs a wax. Some people produce next to no wax earwax or cerumen as a glandular production. So it varies from person to person, but you do want to kind of check-in on, you know, are your ears clean? Every once in awhile I’ll come across people who are completely impacted from the outer of their ear all the way back to their eardrum with ear wax. And that is an ear wax induced hearing loss. They may have other hearing loss, but it will block your hearing. Earwax is nature’s perfect sunblock.
Debi Lynes (25:31): So you have a pair of hearing devices now, what is the recommended way to clean them? Is it easy? Is it hard? Do you need to? And then how often do we come back and visit and see you in optimal hearing?
Natalie Lucas (25:43): I see all of my patients every four months. Some don’t want to see me that much and they’ll push it out to six.
Debi Lynes (25:48): Right and other people will come every two years because they can.
Natalie Lucas (25:51): Right and then some come every couple of weeks just to say, Hey but it is important to keep people moving forward and to have somebody else hearing. Sometimes people don’t realize new hearing aids aren’t working well because the brain hears the hearing aid turn on. It tells them they’re working. So checking on vacuuming the microphones in fact.
Debi Lynes (26:13): Vacuuming the microphones.
Natalie Lucas (26:14): I have the world’s tiniest vacuum in my office.
Debi Lynes (26:16): Yeah, I am going there tomorrow.
Natalie Lucas (26:19): But in terms of keeping them clean, you want to brush them off. Okay. Things like pollen, skin cells, dandruff, all of these things can settle in the microphones and affect the performance. I always say we’re humans, so we’ve got a lot room alone.
Debi Lynes (26:34): Walking in the rain.
Natalie Lucas (26:35): Not bad. Most hearing aids are very, very water-resistant. I jump in the pool with them. I had a gentleman just recently swim about 10 laps before he realized you can get your hearing aids and Oh, take them out. If they get them wet and put them in a bowl of dried rice, just like you would your cell phone and it’s going to pull the moisture out of them. You can a lot of times save your hearing aids even if you’ve submerged them.
Debi Lynes (27:00): What do you see age span of a hearing device?
Natalie Lucas (27:04): Manufacturers, one is to say five years and that’s because we’re in a technology boom and keeping all of those old, outdated parts. I tend to tell people five to seven years. I have patients who come see me. I saw a woman today who was in hearing aids from 2012. They’re still working for her. We needed, she needs to stay in them. So we kept her in them and we take care of him for her.
Debi Lynes (27:28): Once you have your hearing devices, do you, is it like a car? Can you like turn them in and upgrade?
Natalie Lucas (27:33): No, for the most part they’re, they’re regulated as medical devices. So they and they are, they’re living in a 98-degree body. They’re kind of as no exchange program. I have helped people put them on a cell behind the ear style cause that’ll fit everyone. I have helped people sell those before in neighborhood flyers, eBay, you’ll see sometimes you’ll see them for sale.
Debi Lynes (28:03): Slightly used.
Natalie Lucas (28:03): Slightly used. Buyer beware. Of course, you want to make sure that they are good working hearing aids. But you can.
Debi Lynes (28:12): You have been amazing and super fun to talk to before we go. It’s shameless self-promotion time. Oh I need to call this that. So if you name after want hearing website where we can track you down. Miss Natalie.
Natalie Lucas (28:29): So my name is Natalie Lucas. www.optimalhearing.com. I have offices in Hilton Head and on Bluffton and you know, my favorite part of my job is taking care of people. I’m really big on education. A lot of times people are scared before they come and go find out what’s going on. Don’t be. Come see me and um you’ll learn a lot no matter what.
Debi Lynes (28:56): Thank you so much for joining us here on aging in place. Bye-bye.
Debi Lynes (29:01): I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Tracy. Tracy is naturally curious and always creative. And when we were doing the Aging in Place Podcast, she said there are so many quick tips that I can think of offhand. My response, who knew she’s going to be with us every week, giving us a quick tip and to hint that is a practical application.
Tracy Snelling (29:29): Thanks Debbie. This next tip came from one of my friends who has a hearing disability. She’s in her twenties and she wears hearing aids. I thought this was such a great idea that I needed to share, even though I don’t have any hearing problems, I’m still doing this today. When Sarah is home, she remains barefooted or she wears socks. She removes her shoes at the door. Why? It’s not because of the dirt or the mud. It’s because of vibrations. She says she can feel the floor move. She feels the vibration of the door opening or closing. She feels the vibration of her dogs. Paul’s coming down the hall. She even feels the vibration when something is dropped, not even the room where she’s standing. Who knew? Well, Sarah did. I was raised in a barefoot at home shoes, first thing off and last thing on only because I’m a little bit country. I am now more aware of the vibrations of my own home and I’m also talented enough to pick up my ink pen with my toes when I drop it. I felt the vibration. Who knew?
Debi Lynes (30:36): Natalie Lucas, It was a lot of fun today to talk with you. At the end of every podcast, we have a takeaway and the takeaway today is this, do not neglect your hearing. It is one of the most important things you can do for your health and wellness. Thank you all for joining us this week on aging in place. Have a great one.
Henrik de Gyor (30:59): Aging in Place Podcast is hosted by Debi Lynes and produced by Henrik de Gyor. If you have any comments or questions, send an email to email@example.com we would love to hear from you. If you’re interested in advertising or sponsoring this podcast, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for listening to Aging in Place Podcast.
There are resources in every city in town in the US. It may be difficult to access initially, but keep looking. Look for things like a senior resource directory or an Aging in Place Council.
Debi Lynes (00:03): Hi and welcome to Aging in Place for every stage in life. What if you could visit or have a home that would accommodate anyone at any age, any physical ability at any time? How cool would that be? That’s what we’re doing here at Aging in Place. Why me? Because I’m a doctor of psychology and I specialize in physical spaces in health and wellness. Also, I love designing with intent at any age. Why now? Because we the baby boomers want to age in place gracefully and we want our families around us as much as we can and why you the audience? Because we want you to experience what it’s like to have a home that’s safe, aesthetically pleasing and that you can live in at any age with any ability at any time. I’d like to introduce you now to Aging in Place Podcast for every stage in life.
Debi Lynes (01:03): Hi and welcome to Aging in Place Podcast for any stage in life. I am thrilled to be talking to a dear friend of mine for about 30 years. Deborah Edmondson, thank you for joining us. It’s ironic and interesting that we are both working in the field of Aging in Place and I am really curious if you will, to talk to us a little bit about what you’re doing right now with Aging in Place, how you got involved in it, and then share with this a bit about the whole process of dealing with seniors.
Deborah Edmondson (01:41): Okay Well, Debi, first, thanks so much for having me. I really am, I’m so thankful to be able to talk about this and share this information. Beaufort County, you know, in South Carolina is one of the richest counties. People love to come here and every time, Businessweek or the New York Times says we’re the best of something, even more people come here. And so we have a lot of seniors that have retired. Some of them have been here for 20, 30 years and they don’t know what their next step is. And some, everybody isn’t suited for a nursing home. Everybody isn’t suited or can afford assisted living. And so our mission at the Coalition for Aging in Place is to help people stay in their homes as long as it’s safe to do so.
Debi Lynes (02:31): So that’s the mission statement. Can I ask you a basic question? What is a coalition and how did Beaufort County formulate a coalition and why?
Deborah Edmondson (02:40): Beaufort County back in the 80s, about 30 years ago had a study called the together for Beaufort Initiative. And in that they identified four components: health, wellness, poverty education and lifestyle. Okay. And so within those components, then they developed certain coalitions that would address the needs within those components.
Debi Lynes (03:09): And so coalitions from my way of thinking are different members of the community in different areas of business that all come together and work as one it rather than independently. So that the line of communication and the message stays on point. Is that a fair way of saying.
Deborah Edmondson (03:32): The message stays on point and it also minimizes duplication of services. So if you’re not duplicating services, then you have the resources to help more people.
Debi Lynes (03:42): It makes perfect sense.
Deborah Edmondson (03:44): And so the Coalition for Aging in Place actually was born out of the poverty initiative because a lot of our seniors are impoverished and that includes a lot of our seniors that live in gated communities.
Debi Lynes (04:01): Interesting.
Deborah Edmondson (04:01): They are literally house poor and cannot afford access to the services that they need.
Debi Lynes (04:10): What have you all identified as some of the voids in the area as far as what seniors need? What are areas that you’re really working toward?
Deborah Edmondson (04:22): Transportation. That is the number one issue. Our seniors can’t get to doctor’s appointments. They can’t get to therapy appointments.
Debi Lynes (04:35): Grocery store?
Deborah Edmondson (04:36): Grocery store, and that really erodes your quality of life if you can’t access services. And so the Coalition for Aging in Place, we’ve been putting these nuggets into the ears of businesses and so it’s not by accident that Publix several years ago started delivering groceries in the Bluffton area.
Debi Lynes (05:01): Interesting.
Deborah Edmondson (05:01): Okay. Because we talk about these things and we communicated to the greater public.
Debi Lynes (05:07): How does it, how does it look? What’s a typical, do you meet monthly? Do you meet quarterly?
Deborah Edmondson (05:11): We meet once a month
Debi Lynes (05:13): Okay, what does that look like?
Deborah Edmondson (05:14): That looks like anywhere from five to 20 people that are from different organizations. They could be from hospice, they can be from Palmetto breeze, they can be from our area office on aging. The hospitals are involved. Assisted living facilities are involved and we all get together and we talk about what we have going on. There were certain agenda items that we want to get through that focus on our initiatives.
Debi Lynes (05:43):
Deborah Edmondson (05:45): Who can get me into some communities to talk to developing a village that makes.
Debi Lynes (05:51): Now, what’s a village?
Deborah Edmondson (05:52): A village is where neighbors are helping neighbors. Wow. They are contained within a community and they will help people who need the services. Transportation, which is all volunteer-driven. I mean volunteer to the point in their personal car. We’ll help them with getting groceries, take them to doctor’s appointments. They’ll also come in, they’ll also come in. You need light bulbs changed too high for you to get to. You need somebody to maybe just do some light cleaning. Maybe you have meals delivered, but you can’t heat them up. Somebody will come by and help you. Socialization. Our seniors get isolated. They don’t have anybody to socialize with. And so some of the villages have opportunities to take seniors to places where they can have activities that they normally wouldn’t have gone to.
Debi Lynes (06:50): You know, we’re talking about this in South Carolina and Hilton Head specifically in the low country. But this model you said actually came from Massachusetts and it’s kind of generalizable throughout the country, which is why we thought it would be such an interesting topic. I just had no idea how the concept of villages, where did that come from or why the need for that specifically
Deborah Edmondson (07:18): The need for the village specifically came about in trying to create the structure so to speak.
Debi Lynes (07:25): Infrastructure.
Deborah Edmondson (07:25): That will allow people to stay in their homes. And in order for people to be able to stay in their homes, there has to be someone who can help them out with services and the same services that we talk about.
Debi Lynes (07:38): And so what I hear you say and tell me, Deb, we’re fine, right? Let’s say I live here. I live in an area called Point Comfort and it’s a community. So basically what you’re saying is rather than calling someone in Bluffton to come take me to a doctor’s appointment, if I can find folks that are within my neighborhood that I know and feel comfortable with. Ah.
Deborah Edmondson (08:00): Exactly. It’s less expensive than, you know, seniors lately have been calling Uber. Oh, that can get to be very expensive.
Debi Lynes (08:09): I know.
Deborah Edmondson (08:10): But if there’s a structure within your community, you get into the doctor in the grocery store for free.
Debi Lynes (08:16): With people I know.
Deborah Edmondson (08:18): With people, you know.
Debi Lynes (08:19): And I think that’s really important. My dad lives with us and I know he’s a lot more hesitant to go with people. He doesn’t know someone who would be likely to know. Exactly. Oh my gosh. Okay. This is absolutely brilliant. How long have you been working with Aging in Place?
Deborah Edmondson (08:37): I’ve been working with Aging in Place now for seven years. It’s been seven years because I started out basically being not only a facilitator for the Aging in Place Coalition, but what we call a village developer. That’s my goal, to try get communities to develop villages throughout the County because they have to be done a community at a time, you know, they won’t be a village for the County. So we have three that are South of the broad and for those that don’t know our geography, we have this huge river that separates us. And so South of the broad includes Hilton Head [Island] and Bluffton. And then we have one that is North at the Broad in the Sheldon area.
Debi Lynes (09:25): Oh interesting.
Deborah Edmondson (09:25): And because the communities are different, each of the villages are different in the services that they offer because North of the broad happens to be one of our more impoverished areas in the County. And so that village takes surveys of seniors, they go in and do assessments, see what they need, and then they try to provide them with some minor home repair or helping them get their home ready for a senior to live in it, you know, rails and the bathrooms. Wider entrance ways for wheelchairs, things like that.
Debi Lynes (10:05): This is what we’re going to take a break and this is sort of what I’d like to touch on in the next segment that we’re doing is transportation is huge. But I’d like to talk about some of the other things that have been identified as challenges for seniors. So stay with us. There’s more to come here on aging in place. Podcast. Hi, I’m Dr. Debi. Lynes. Design elements are psychologically and physically supportive and conducive to health and wellness. To learn more about what Lynes on Design can do for you, for more information on certified aging in place and facilitative and supportive design, look for us at lynesondesign.com. That’s L-Y-N-E-S on design dot com.
Debi Lynes (10:30): We are back here on aging in place. We are having an amazing conversation with Deborah Edmondson. And the more we talk, the more there is to share, and I think we’re going to talk about services, but before we do, during the break we were talking about the podcast is aging in place for any stage in life and our producer in his forties. And we were talking about if he lives in a village community, yeah. Falls and breaks his leg, is by himself, cannot get to the doctor. Is that something?
Deborah Edmondson (11:27): Yes. Of that village, he can be a member of that village and that village will provide him with whatever services that they have. It just appears that for the most part, it’s seniors that need these services. But if you’re 45 and you’re living alone and you don’t have any family.
Debi Lynes (11:48): Why not?
Deborah Edmondson (11:48): Why not?
Debi Lynes (11:49): See that’s the gift of this whole model, isn’t it? It really. All right. Let’s talk about services. We’ve touched on transportation, which you said is kind of the biggie to quote you, but what are some of the other voice or some of the things that you are.
Deborah Edmondson (12:04): Caregivers. Oh, caregivers. In this County, a couple of opportunities with that. One, there aren’t enough. So we’re working with our local higher education.
Debi Lynes (12:23): Oh like nursing school.
Deborah Edmondson (12:26): Exactly. For training, not only nurses, caregivers, just certified caregivers.
Debi Lynes (12:33): So what would that look like? What that could be a caregiver and what kind of.
Deborah Edmondson (12:38): A CNA. Okay. Certified Nursing Assistant. That’s two years at Technical College in the Low Country.
Debi Lynes (12:45): What a great career too.
Deborah Edmondson (12:46): Okay. but then pay comes into mind. And so the pay level, especially entry-level, it’s not great. And so there’s high turnover because when you can move and have an increase in your salary, you move. So there’s high turnover and there’s not enough to staff the places because you see the construction that we have going on around here and a lot of assisted living facilities are going up. Those facilities that are tied to larger corporations, then they can pay and they have the work. So it’s hard to keep up with the workforce, especially for the independent companies.
Debi Lynes (13:31): Let me ask you a question about caregivers. Because my mom had a caregiver when she had dementia. I found it interesting that very few men, yes. And that most of the caregivers were pretty young. Yes. So what are you looking for? I mean I wonder what criteria folks you all would be looking for for an ideal caregiver? I guess there isn’t one. It just depends.
Deborah Edmondson (13:58): It really isn’t. I mean you’re looking for someone and they vary in the qualifications vary because myself, I have been trying to see how the Coalition can help some of our partners who sit around the table improve the workforce population for them. Okay. And.
Debi Lynes (14:21): This is interesting.
Deborah Edmondson (14:23): Where when we, we had a strategic work session on that and we were really all over the place and the bottom line was talk to TCL [Technical College of the Lowcountry and see if we could send Colleges, I’m sorry. Thank you. What was needed were internships.
Debi Lynes (14:40): And what would that mean?
Deborah Edmondson (14:42): Because when they get certified they have to have X amount of hours training first. And so now your what comes first? The chicken or the egg. And so that was a component that was missing that we said we would try and work on.
Debi Lynes (15:00): What I hear is Deborah that this is a very solution-focused group for B for County and aging in place.
Deborah Edmondson (15:09): We, that’s what we work towards it to be every June we have a strategic work session and we identify initiatives to work on during the year. So the coalition this year has a couple of events coming up because also at our meetings we do presentations for the people who sit around the table. So we’re going to have one presentation is called our fall workshop. Okay. And what is.
Debi Lynes (15:38): A Fall? Yes. Workshop.
Deborah Edmondson (15:40): Falling
Debi Lynes (15:43): Oh I’m giving air quotes.
Deborah Edmondson (15:43): Oh right. Yeah. We see different counties spending a lot of money with the fire department and going out to pick up seniors. As a matter of fact, every time the truck rolls is $500.
Debi Lynes (15:58): We know what’s funny is we had a firefighter come and share with us and that was exactly what he said. His main calls for seniors are false.
Deborah Edmondson (16:08): So this workshop will take place in Bluffton. It’s going to be the end of March. And what we’re going to do is just have some fall preventative measures testing that might need to be done and.
Debi Lynes (16:22): Balance.
Deborah Edmondson (16:22): Balance, different things that you can do to avert falling. So that’s what we’re calling our fall workshop. Then also we found out that veterans and spouses of veterans have a wonderful benefit that a lot of our veterans don’t know about and it’s the Aid and Attendance Benefit from the VA.
Debi Lynes (16:45): What is that?
Deborah Edmondson (16:46): And so if you served during wartime, you did not have to be in the war, you wouldn’t be in Jersey. But if the country was at war in Europe you’re in and it goes up to the Vietnam war and then they are worse there is some more criteria for like Afghanistan and Iraq, but they can get as much as 20 some thousand dollars a year to go towards caregivers or assisted living. And because a lot of veterans don’t know about this. We had the gentleman who coordinates this area to come and speak with us and we’re now going to give a presentation with him sometime in late spring.
Debi Lynes (17:35): How do you all get the word out to the folks and the Beaufort County area, I know that you, you do produce a wonderful resource directory, which is a godsend.
Deborah Edmondson (17:52): All right. And that helps. And it’s going to the new one that’s coming out. We’ll include a calendar of events and so it will have our annual events listed in any other event that’s pertinent to seniors. And we also do PR. And then for the people who sit around the table in the coalition, they use their resources to get the word out as well.
Debi Lynes (18:12): Is church ever a problem, folks who want to participate in their church activities? I would think there again, transportation and accessibility would be a challenge for that too.
Deborah Edmondson (18:23): It is a challenge. And so, I mean if you’re involved with a village, you can get transportation to church services. The village that I mentioned that’s North of the broad actually was born out of a church. It’s their senior adult ministry and they offer seniors they do a health and wellness expo twice a year and they focus on different aspects of senior living. There’s one tomorrow. They’re doing it on dementia and caregivers and so, and then they also offer socialization because disability is in a very rural area. The seniors tend not to be able to get out and mix and mingle with other people, so once a month they try to have something where the seniors can go and participate like the conference tomorrow or maybe they might go take a boat ride in Savannah and have lunch or go to a museum in Charleston and have lunch so they do different things and these seniors wouldn’t have had that opportunity.
Debi Lynes (19:23): Oh my gosh. It’s amazing. I think we need to take a quick break. We’re going to come back on aging in place. Stay with us. We’ll be right back.
Henrik de Gyor (19:32): For more podcast episodes, links, information and media inquiries, please visit our website at aging in place, podcast.com as we transition through life with the comfort and ease you deserve, discover how you can create a home that will adapt to you as you journey through life and the changes it will bring. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as our host Debi Lynes and her expert guests discuss relevant topics to creating a home for all decades in life. Don’t miss our weekly episodes of Aging in Place Podcast for every stage in life.
Debi Lynes (20:10): We are back here on Aging in Place Podcast for any stage in life. Debra Edmonson is joined us and we’re talking about aging in place and some of the resources here in Beaufort County in South Carolina, although we’re talking specifically right now locally, really this is a very generalizable model and, and I don’t care in what city you live.
Deborah Edmondson (20:37): It can be replicated.
Debi Lynes (20:38): That’s right. And the issues are the same. Right. And I think again, we’re trying to open, open up a dialogue about things as we age that we may not be aware of. And what Deborah shared in the first couple of segments was transportation is absolutely a huge issue. One of the things we’re going to talk about in this segment is about adult protection. Talk to us a little bit about that.
Deborah Edmondson (21:04): Well, the department of social services at the state level has an adult protective services division. So each of the offices in each County has an adult protective services and what they.
Debi Lynes (21:18): Yeah. What is that and why?
Deborah Edmondson (21:21): Well, because we have a lot of our adults, specifically seniors who are vulnerable.
Debi Lynes (21:26): Okay. So they are considered a vulnerable population like children.
Deborah Edmondson (21:31): Yes, exactly. And so the family group conferencing process in South Carolina started with children and they realize that for vulnerable adults, this would be a great model.
Debi Lynes (21:44): And what does that look like?
Deborah Edmondson (21:46): What that looks like is bringing together for a family a meeting that includes service people. So, and I’ll give you a very good example. Okay. There was a vulnerable adult who had children but they could not care for her. And she had mental issues. She also had physical health issues. And she was in the custody of DSS because her children couldn’t care for her. They didn’t have the qualifications. But what we were able to do is bring together someone from the area office on aging, someone from an assisted living facility them, the caseworker was there. We also brought someone in from a hospice agency and a caregiver agency. So now the family has people to talk to because they didn’t know where to go to get help. Now they have people to talk to and we develop a plan and the plan is very specific person does this activity and they have to do it by this date with an end date. And this plan is then implemented and the goal is to make sure that that vulnerable adult is put into an environment where they are safe. Now that environment could very well be their home, but that might mean we have to get someone in to do some repairs. Okay. So the plans are tailored to that person.
Debi Lynes (23:26): And they are very, very specific.
Deborah Edmondson (23:28): Very specific. And so we had the state coordinator come and give us a presentation and so the people who sit around the table were able to get her contact information and they can provide her referrals. Of people who they work with that they think are vulnerable.
Debi Lynes (23:48): So what I hear you say again here is these are about specific people as it’s not just conceptional, right. Fascinating. From an adult protective services. I never really thought about caretakers not being able to, to take care or family, not being able to take care of someone. But I think that is something to really consider. And I guess adult protective services would also be involved in any kind of senior abuse or money.
Deborah Edmondson (24:21): Yes. Yes, they are. There have been instances where some adults have fell prey to scams or thinking that maybe one of their children were really taking care of them and they weren’t. They were just siphoning off their money. These are all types of situations that adult protective services will get involved in.
Debi Lynes (24:43): Do you find that as you start when you started this, the amount of knowledge that you’ve gained that you didn’t know?
Deborah Edmondson (24:53): Tremendous. Absolutely tremendous. And I’ve been able, I mean the knowledge that I’ve gained has helped me within my own family structure because there was so many things that we did not know about that I can impart to family and imparts of family, friends all over the country. You know, I’m always telling family members and friends who are taking care of their parents. Why don’t you look into this agency? Why don’t you look to your community? So the things that I’m involved here in Beaufort County, definitely I have talked to people about in New York and Alabama and Illinois. In Michigan, they are all transferable services.
Debi Lynes (25:35): Let me ask you a question about actual physical structures. What about things like what am I trying to say? Handlebars or safety bars, things like that. Aren’t those things that you do also?
Deborah Edmondson (25:49): We don’t do them specifically, but the area office on aging and every state has one. You can go to them and they have grant, they have grant money at the area office on aging and the grant money is for things like that, their remodels so that you can so that your bathroom is set to be handicap or if you need lifts to help you get out of bed, there’s grant money for that through your area office on aging.
Debi Lynes (26:21): So when I hear you say again, there are resources available. Part of the issue is getting all of that information out to the public. Yes. And one of the things you said when you came in that was interesting, I think for me Henrik and I think the rest of you all was, it’s not about getting the message out to the patient, if you will, or the client who’s the senior. It’s about the family.
Deborah Edmondson (26:47): It’s about the family. Because children need to know where to go to help their parents, especially if they do not live in the same area. You know, they used to be a time that we all live together, stay together in the same community. Now, you know you can have parents on the East coast and children on the West Coast and they’re not familiar with. Their parents have retired too. You know they were born and raised in New York, but mom and dad decided to move down to Hilton Head and then they can contact the Coalition for Aging in Place. At email@example.com. They can also contact the Low Country Council of Governments or whatever council of governments might be a respective state because that’s where the area office on aging, we’ll sit and they can find out about grants. There are grants for respite care so that if you know you’re the caregiver in your family and you’re like, I just need a break. I want to go get my hair done. Exactly what I was. Okay. They were grants that will allow you to, they’ll give you money. It’s small, but it’ll pay for someone to come into the home and stay with your family member while you go to have some respite.
Debi Lynes (28:08): Deborah, this information has been absolutely priceless and I think again, the more knowledge is power and just this, this discussion right now is opened up a whole plethora I think of questions that we can can answer here within this podcast. So thank you for joining us.
Deborah Edmondson (28:26): Thank you for having me.
Debi Lynes (28:27): We want to thank all of you for joining us here on Aging in Place Podcast for any stage in life. Debra, before we go, I’d love to have you again, little shameless self-promotion and if are there any other websites or um.
Deborah Edmondson (28:42): No, I like everybody to be able to access the senior resource directory that we have here in Beaufort County and that senior resource directory.com.
Debi Lynes (28:52): Yay. Thank you all. Thank you all for joining us. Have a wonderful week. Bye-bye. I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Tracy. Tracy is naturally curious and always creative. And when we were doing the Aging in Place Podcast, she said there are so many quick tips that I can think of offhand. My response. Who knew she’s going to be with us every week, giving us a quick tip and to hint. That is a practical application.
Tracy Snelling (29:26): Thanks Debi. Hit your ride. Don’t be afraid to ask family or friends for rides. Search out the senior transportation in your area. There are many agencies that have volunteers to drive you whether to the doctor or shopping. The good side about asking family. You can use the I buy and you drive for lunchtime. Allene but my mother was dependent on others. We made a family calendar on who could take her on what days. It made it easy to plan her doctor visits and shopping when she knew ahead of time she had a ride. Mama’s always happy to have family accompany or and enjoy treating or ride. Who knew we would miss being her chauffeur when she was gone.
Debi Lynes (30:07): Deborah Edmondson provided a wonderful interview today and there was really a lot of information. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is this: There are resources in every city in town in the US it may be difficult to access initially, but keep looking, look for things like a senior resource directory or an Aging in Place Council. Have a wonderful week and thank you for joining us here on aging in place. Bye-bye.
Henrik de Gyor (30:37): Aging in Place Podcast is hosted by Debi Lynes and produced by Henrik de Gyor. If you have any comments or questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org we would love to hear from you if you’re interested in advertising or sponsoring this podcast, email us at email@example.com Thank you for listening to Aging in Place Podcast.