Family Caregiver Lifestyle Tech – Headphones That Leave Ears Open

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

You start a conversation with someone, or half a conversation anyway, but fail to notice they have on earbuds and haven’t heard a thing you said.

It happens at home, in the office, walking down a busy street – seemingly everywhere.

There has to be an alternative, right?

Or…you’re a family caregiver who wants to listen to your favorite music, podcasts, or audiobooks – maybe even conference calls for your work – without disturbing your senior loved one or competing with what they are watching on tv.

At the same time, you need to be able to hear your senior if they ask you something or if something should happen to them and they need your attention.

That means you can’t afford to have something in your ears, blocking your ability to hear what is going on around you.

Maybe you’re like me and just aren’t comfortable with earbuds in your ears, not to mention wires that get in the way and mean we have to carry our phone or tablet when we want to listen to something.

There has to be an alternative that works for us, right?

Off-Ear Listening Alternative

I have been looking for options to traditional earbuds and headphones for some time. Yes, Bluetooth cut the wires but not the need to have something in or over my ears.

I tried a small Bluetooth speaker, but that still imposed what I wanted to hear on those around me.

AfterShokz_Bluez_2_Black sideThen I encountered AfterShokz, headphones that used bone conduction, at CES® 2015. I was skeptical and, besides, they looked like expensive toys for athletes, so I only paused briefly at their exhibit.

In the months after CES I did some research and began thinking the technology behind AfterShokz might be an answer to the problem.

Not only might it work for me and other family caregivers, I thought, but it could be valuable to seniors who, like me, want to listen without disturbing others but want to stay aware of their surroundings.

I put AfterShokz out of my mind after making a note to look them up at the next CES.

Reviewing AfterShokz

As CES 2016 approached, AfterShokz reached out to media registered for the event and offered to make available review units and I took them up on it. There was no condition other than publishing an article with my impressions (and no compensation).AfterShokz_Bluez_2_Black_front

I picked a pair of Bluez 2S to try. Based on their appearance and what I read, that model seemed most likely to appeal to the seniors who would be among my reviewers.

While CES week was packed with work, I couldn’t wait to give the headphones a try and paired them with my iPhone at the hotel.

I was immediately impressed with the sound, though it initially felt awkward to put them in front of my ears. It very was nice to be able to listen without putting something in my ear.
Since then, I have used the AfterShokz with my phone, tablet, and computer to listen to music, books, and video. Fittingly, I am wearing them as I write this. While I may have the volume a little higher than others would recommend, I was able to hear someone sneeze at the other end of the house.

My impression of the headphones has not changed. I’m no audiophile, but love music and really enjoy the freedom of listening and staying aware of what’s happening around me. I also like being able to walk around the house while listening without having to bring my device with me, especially when it’s the computer.

That’s not to say there aren’t things about AfterShokz that could be better. They are a little constraining when I move my head, especially when sitting, and sometimes disruptive to my eyeglass frames.

Reactions of Others

AfterShokz_Bluez_2S_womanI asked a few other family caregivers to give the headphones a try. They were all surprised they could get that kind of sound from something on their head rather than in or on their ears.

AfterShokz mentions in their promotional material that someone with hearing loss will find the headphones help them enjoy music so I thought I would put them to the extreme test.

I asked a friend who has had a profound loss from birth to give them a try, realizing that was well beyond the advertising. While he heard nothing unaided, he indicated hearing the music through his hearing aid when worn together.

I was unsure what reaction I would get from my older senior testers but their reaction was positive. They indicated they could see themselves using them around the house because of the situational awareness it gave them.

Option for Family Caregivers to Consider

My experience with the AfterShokz technology showed my initial skepticism was unwarranted.

While I wish I had requested their Trekz Titanium model for my review (I might just put that on my Father’s Day list), due to its thinner profile and 10% lighter weight, I am glad I gave them a try.

Family caregivers, seniors, and anyone else who wants to be able to enjoy listening without wires and while keeping their ears open and aware might want to give these headphones a try.

Senior Care Corner® is continuously on the lookout for technology that can make the lives of family caregivers easier and more enjoyable. We are finding more devices and applications that fit that bill all the time.

By giving caregivers the ability to enjoy listening to their media without impairing their awareness to the needs of their senior loved ones, the bone conduction technology utilized by the AfterShokz headphones can make the lives of caregivers more enjoyable. Seniors’ lives too!

4 thoughts on “Family Caregiver Lifestyle Tech – Headphones That Leave Ears Open”

  1. They would be really cool made in a headband for laying down and for some of us that have tinitis to drown out the ringing. i an a caregiver and can’t do earphones, buds, this would be great.

    • That would be a good use for this type of headphone Debra. We thought this was a great innovation because you can enjoy your favorite music and still pay attention to the person you caregiving–exactly! Glad you found it helpful!

    • Thanks Kim, it seems to be a good solution to be able to hear what is going on in the room at the same time we listened to music or a video online. Safety is important fpr caregivers!

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