If you’ve been visiting Healthy Hearing regularly – as you should – then you know how valuable hearing aids are in improving not only your hearing, but also the overall quality of your life, including relationships, social interactions, and safety.
Fortunately, today’s state-of-the-art digital hearing aid technology makes it possible to produce hearing aids that are sleek, comfortable, and discreet, while providing a wide range of technologically advanced features that make communication – and life in general – easier and better for millions of consumers.
Perhaps you’ve been wondering who are some of the people whose daily lives are being immeasurably enhanced by the latest generation of high-performance hearing aids? So let’s put some names and faces on the statistics. Get ready to meet James and Shawnae whose stories, we are sure, will educate and inspire you.
But first, let’s have a look at a very interesting survey which sheds light on the reasons many people are reluctant to get hearing aids.
Hearing Loss and Denial – a powerful dissuader
Can denial really be that powerful a reason why people don’t seek help for hearing loss? The evidence seems to point that way. A recently released survey commissioned by Siemens Hearing Instruments, Inc., one of the largest manufacturers of hearing aids in the world, reveals that the average American Baby Boomer believes his / her hearing is above average, while the majority of their children think their parents should have their hearing tested. Talk about generation gap!
The survey, carried out in May 2009, polled 250 respondents between the ages of 50 and 75, and 250 children of Boomers whose mother and father are both living and within the 50 to 75 age category.
Here are some of the survey’s findings:
- 72 percent of Boomers believe their hearing is average or better, but their children disagree. Thus, there is a significant disconnect between parents and their children about the severity and perceived consequences of their hearing loss.
- 54 percent of respondents perceive depression in their father and 50 percent • report the same for their mother because of a lack of hearing.
- 53 percent of children perceive hearing loss-induced isolation on the part of their father and 49 percent for their mother.
Fortunately, there are many hearing-impaired people who do recognize the need for treatment – and seek it.
And this where James and Shawnae come in.
I can hear clearly now!
|James Cudo uses his Siemens hearing aids to hear his grandaughter clearly|
James Cudo is a retired Cleveland OH police officer who was persuaded by his wife and 11-year-old granddaughter to get tested for hearing aids. “My wife had been telling me for a number of years that I had a problem,” he relates.
But the final nudge came from James’s granddaughter. “Before, I often could not hear her and I was always asking her to repeat things. This led me to eventually seek more information and receive a hearing test,” he says.
After being screened by an audiologist, James was fit with Siemens Life 700 hearing aids, a small, behind-the-ear model with 16 channels and five listening programs that is a good unit for a first time user, or someone with a mild or moderate hearing loss.
A common reaction James now gets from other people is that they cannot believe his hearing aids are so tiny. “Most people don’t even know that I have a hearing aid on, and I wear two of them – one on each ear,” he points out. “I am not ashamed that I wear hearing aids, because they provide me so much benefit.”
Indeed, the difference in James’s life since being fitted with his hearing aids has been significant. “Before my hearing aids, I was not part of many of the family conversations; I would just sit there because I couldn’t follow them. I’m part of the conversations now.”
A beauty queen’s story
Being part of conversations was also important to Shawnae Jebbia. Former Miss USA attributed her progressively declining hearing – and symptoms such as “stuffy ears” - to a cold. However, “as time went on, I kept noticing that, in a lot of situations, I’d have to ask people to repeat and that I’d keep inching closer to whomever I was speaking with in the effort to hear them,” she says. She also experienced ringing in her ears.
When Shawnae finally got tested, she was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance.
“Once we had a diagnosis, the time came to see what I needed to do to take advantage of the hearing I had left,” Shawnae recalls. “Since the work I do revolves around speaking and listening to a diverse spectrum of people, that was a key issue for me. My audiologist talked to me at the outset about the advantages of amplification to both maximize my residual hearing, as well as to ensure I maintained my speaking skills, and I am glad I took his advice to heart.”
Technology to the rescue
At first, Shawnae opted for a Completely-in-the Ear (CIC) model because she wanted the hearing aid to be as inconspicuous as possible. She soon realized, however, that since her ear canal is very small, a CIC offered to her at the time wasn’t her best choice.
|Siemens Tek allows wireless communication|
This is where the newest technological advances came to her rescue. Working with her audiologist, Shawnae discovered Siemens Pure® 700, the newest, nearly invisible high-end hearing aid that features 16 channels, as well as Bluetooth connect option. Coupled with the Siemens Tek® feature, which controls wireless communications between the hearing aid and Shawnae’s cell phone, audio system, TV, and PC, this technology “is the perfect combination of discreet, comfortable devices that perform extremely well.”
“There were so many sounds that I noticed again when I first started wearing these instruments,” Shawnae notes. “I noticed improvement in the ability to hear my friends, even when there would be background noise in the room. One of the best things that have happened so far is when my friend’s young daughter told me she wanted to whisper something in my ear. She whispered, ‘I love you,’ and I actually heard it with my hearing aids. Those little intimate moments are what I appreciate the most.”
Her advice to fence-sitters who can’t make up their minds what – if any – hearing aid they need: “The fun part about wearing hearing aids today is that they’re so pretty now. Hopefully people won’t wait until they are to the point of frustration before they choose to wear hearing aids that are appropriate for their hearing loss.”