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How hearing aids help keep the brain fit

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Hearing loss accelerates cognitive decline, however research has shown that those who use hearing aids show less of a decline than those who don’t.

Keeping your brain fit so that you can stay sharp, engage socially and participate in professional or volunteer activities is a concept that appeals to a wide range of age groups, from young adults to baby boomers and beyond.  While many strategies for “healthy aging” exist, the newest evidence points to the important role of hearing health in maintaining quality of life long-term.

Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline

Better hearing starts in the brain. Your brain processes and interprets the sounds your ears receive.  When you have hearing loss, your brain doesn’t receive all the sound information it needs to understand what is being said and spends more energy trying to fill in the blanks. That extra effort can take its toll. A growing body of evidence shows that cognitive decline is significantly accelerated when you have hearing loss and don’t use hearing aids.  As conversations become difficult and exhausting, you may start to withdraw and avoid the social connections that are so important to brain health.

Keeping Your Brain Fit

If you are among the 75% of people with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids but are reluctant to take action, the newest research findings may be the powerful motivator you need.  A study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found no difference in the rate of cognitive decline between people with no reported hearing loss and people with hearing loss who used hearing aids. In fact, people with hearing loss who wear hearing aids had the same risk for age-related cognitive decline as people without hearing loss.  When you actively use hearing aids, you are more likely to stay socially engaged, one of the primary ways to stimulate your brain. Like any exercise, the mental give-and-take of social interaction helps to keep your brain fit and slow down accelerated cognitive decline.

A “Brain First” Approach

Today’s advanced hearing aid technology takes into consideration the critical role that the brain plays in hearing. For almost 20 years, Oticon researchers at the world renowned Eriksholm Research Centre have focused on a “brain first” approach that carefully processes the speech signal so it is presented to the brain as clearly and accurately as possible. With better sound information, the brain doesn’t have to work as hard to understand what is being said.

Oticon hearing instruments with BrainHearing™ are an excellent example of this “brain first” approach. By giving the brain a clearer, more accurate sound signal, Oticon hearing aids with BrainHearing™ make it easier to understand conversation – even in noise.  The result is a more natural, effortless listening experience.  This means less demanding mental processing throughout the day so you can engage more actively in everyday life.

Easy on the Brain, Easy Connectivity

Oticon Opn™ is the first hearing aid proven to make it easier on the brain. The small, discreet hearing aid improves your ability to understand speech by up to 30%, so you don’t have to work as hard to understand, leaving more mental energy to remember what you hear – so you can communicate easily and stay socially active. Opn processes sound at extreme speed to remove distracting noise, even between words. You can follow conversation even in environments with multiple people speaking, such as crowded restaurants.

The newest BrainHearing solution also connects directly to compatible mobile phones and other external devices so you can stay connected on the go. With just a tap of your fingertips, you can stream audio directly to your hearing aids. Opn is also the world’s first hearing device that is connected to the Internet via the IFTTT network, a web service that automates other web-based functions to make life easier. You can use Opn hearing aids with a growing number of IFTTT-compatible products and services from wake-up notices and sports reports to practical considerations such as low battery alerts and connections to smart home devices.

Tinnitus & Your Brain

Tinnitus – that ringing, buzzing, whistling or other noises in the ear – can disrupt life and interfere with your enjoyment of everyday activities.  Approximately 80% of people experiencing hearing loss also suffer from tinnitus. Hearing aids have proven helpful for people with hearing loss who also experience tinnitus. The explanation is simple. With better hearing, the brain has other external sounds to listen to, making tinnitus less disturbing. Improved hearing also takes away the strain of listening, especially in difficult listening situations, and may help to reduce the stress associated with tinnitus.

Refocusing the Brain

There are many ways to take control of your tinnitus and reduce its impact on your life. A hearing care professional can help you manage your symptoms through education, counseling and sound therapy. Oticon Opn hearing aids with built-in Tinnitus SoundSupport™ can also help you direct your focus away from tinnitus by playing a wide range of relief sounds like white noise and soothing ocean-like sounds. You can adjust the sounds until they give the relief you need — wherever you find yourself needing it.

Hearing Care is Health Care

When it comes to healthy aging, it makes sense to take care of your hearing health, just as you care about the rest of your health. The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 360 million people worldwide suffer from hearing loss. Many of them aren’t aware of it or are putting off treatment. If you’re one of them, you owe it to yourself to visit a hearing care professional for a hearing evaluation. Your future as an active, engaged, healthy person could depend on it.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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