Like many college students, Aaron Brody was trying to decide what to do with the rest of his life when a part-time job gave him some direction. His father, an audiologist who dispensed hearing aids from an office in the back of their home, enlisted Aaron’s help in the business.
“I found this field was a great opportunity to meet people and make a difference in their life,” he said, “not only emotionally but physically as well.” Today, Aaron’s father is “85% retired” from his Brooklyn business, Aaron's Audio Aids, and Aaron – now a Hearing Instrument Specialist -- is the owner.
“He’s a good sounding board,” Aaron says of his father. “He comes in occasionally to do some audiology work and still sends me referrals. It’s nice to have someone I can relate to.”
Yet dad isn’t the only person Aaron hears. When Aaron’s patients talk, he listens to them, too. “Bigger practices may overlook what the patients are there for,” he said. “I try to relate to my patients and treat them like they were my mother or father. I’m always here to answer the phone and address my patient’s needs. That stands out.”
Even so, the work can be challenging. “A lot of people want to hear ‘I’m ok’ when they walk through the door,” he said. “They don’t want to hear about hearing aids. Some are so insulted they have literally stormed out, even though hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process.”
Some also have very high expectations of how well hearing aids can perform. “Hearing aids can never be as perfect as the human ear,” Aaron explained, “and some individuals expect to hear like they did when they were 35 – even though now they’re 85.”
Advances in technology help Aaron provide better results for his patients. “We were phasing out analogs when I first started 13 years ago,” he said. “Since then, there’s been an unbelievable jump in regards to noise management tactics, feedback cancellation and wireless options.”
Aaron gives free consultations, referring patients who are unable to afford hearing aids to clinics in the area who accept Medicaid patients or to manufacturers which produce amplifiers. “Some people feel badly if they don’t buy anything from me but I tell them not to worry -- better hearing is my priority. Sometimes you’ve gotta believe in higher authorities that actually control these kinds of things.”
One of Aaron’s satisfied customers is a young electrician who had worn BTE (behind-the-ear) hearing aids for many years. Aaron fit him with a smaller model with wireless technology so he could watch movies and talk on the phone. “He travels occasionally but he could never watch a movie on an airplane. Now he can just plug right in,” Aaron said. “He came back and told me his new hearing aids are so discreet, he doesn’t even feel like he’s wearing them. He was very happy.”
Aaron is active in the community, conducting free screenings at area senior centers and giving talks about hearing healthcare and hearing loss preventive. Once a week, you’ll even find him in one of the local pharmacies, giving free hearing screenings while seniors wait for their prescriptions.
“I got into hearing health because I love being part of someone’s life in a positive way,” he said. “It’s so satisfying to hear you’ve improved someone’s quality of life by fitting them with hearing aids.”