Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.


Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.



The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.



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“Hereditary hearing loss is less and less prevalent but still present in some patients,” said Dr. Manning.

Other signs of hearing loss or indications for a need to have your hearing tested include answering people incorrectly; having pressure and fullness in the ears or a sensation that you’re only hearing out of one ear; balance problems; and turning the volume up on the TV or radio.

“It is highly recommended that you go to an audiologist first at least to find out why you have the hearing loss,” Dr. Manning said. “It’s important to note the National Institutes for Health has released study after study showing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be thwarted or avoid by correcting  hearing loss.”

A visit to Audiology Associates entails a comprehensive exam to get to the bottom of your hearing difficulties.

“The first thing we do is take a very detailed history,” Dr. Manning said. “We look at the patient’s family, their work setting and work history. We look at his medical background and medications he’s taking, medical surgical issues he’s had in the past. Then we listen to the patient to find out exactly where they feel they’re having the most problems.”


“The old analog stuff lasted about three years, and they became so full of sweat and body oils and had so much static you couldn’t get rid of it.”

The technology changes rapidly. “If you don’t go to at least two national training courses a year, you’re behind – it changes that fast,” Dr. Manning said. He and the staff at Audiology Associates in Lexington are dedicated to keeping up with the changes and to providing patients top-rate audiology services.

“We offer full service for hearing, balance and tinnitus or ringing in the ear,” Dr. Manning said.

Hearing loss is a silent predator, Dr. Manning said. “It kind of sneaks up on you before you know it’s there,” he said. “A lot of folks we test say, ‘My hearing’s perfect,’ and we find they’ve lost over 40 percent of their hearing.”

Several factors contribute to hearing loss. The most common cause is exposure to loud noise, but there are any number of medical pathologies that may be related to hearing loss.


Tanya J. Tyler is the Editor of Living Well 60+ Magazine

more articles by tanya J. tyler

Innovative technology is used during the hearing test in the form of a video otoscope that puts a camera in the ear canal.

“Not only does this give us a better perspective of what’s going on but it allows the patient to be involved in the diagnostic process,” Dr. Manning said.

An audiogram helps determine the type, degree and configuration of your hearing loss. Further tests using computers lets Dr. Manning check on the

Over the 40-plus years he has been in practice, Dr. Robert Manning with Audiology Associates has seen many exciting changes in audiology technology.

“When I first came into the profession, they were just starting to fit hearing aids all in the ear,” he said. “Prior to that, they had those big 4-inch-long hearing aids that hung behind the ears and squealed all the time.”

Now hearing instruments are smaller, more comfortable and full of amazing abilities. The new digital technology makes it all very comfortable and not unsettling as it used to be.

“Throughout the years we’ve seen the advent of digital technology that allows the instruments to be considerably smaller,” Dr. Manning said. “We’ve got Bluetooth capability now where we can hook the cell phone up to the hearing aids. Your cell phone rings, you simply push a button and your hearing aids become speakers for your cell phone. The technology is really amazing. The sound quality is extraordinarily better and the patients are a lot more satisfied.”

These new hearing instruments last longer than previous incarnations.

“With the new digital technology, hearing instruments typically are changed out every five to seven years,” Manning said.

 overall function of the ear drum, middle ear, Eustachian tube, the cochlea, the auditory nerve pathway itself and the auditory cortex.

“All these things need to be evaluated separately and then in conjunction with one another so we can get a better idea of how the overall auditory system is going to handle amplification,” said Dr. Manning. “All this gives us the ability to try three or four different hearing instruments. Once we do the testing and actually trial fit instruments on the patient, they’re just amazed at how much they weren’t hearing.”

Some people pick up hearing aids in other places rather than accredited hearing centers in order to save money. This is not always a good idea.

“I have not had one patient yet come in here who told me these hearing aids were successful,” Dr. Manning said. “The instruments have got to be custom fitted to the patient in such a way that it addresses the actual needs of that individual. It’s not one-size-fits-all.”

Audiology Associates takes care of patients from age 6 and older. “I’m proud to say over the years we’ve got about a 90-percent success rate in graduating our young children who we’ve followed most of their lives with hearing instruments,” Dr. Manning said.

Dr. Manning’s credentials include earning a Doctor of Audiology degree from the Arizona School of Health Sciences. He is licensed as an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist, is a past president of the National Academy of Dispensing Audiologists and has received the prestigious Audiology Appreciation Award, a national award given in recognition of outstanding service to the profession of audiology, as well as the 2010 Excellence in Audiology Award from the Kentucky Academy of Audiology. His son, Jacob, is in practice with him specializing in hearing instrument selection, fitting and orientation and follow-up care for patients in the Lexington office.