Solutions to hearing loss exist, but for many people with diminished hearing, the biggest obstacle is facing the problem to begin with.
“The thing about hearing loss is that it is something that tends to happen very gradually,” said Paul Jackson, licensed hearing aid specialist and the director of marketing for Clear-tone Hearing Aid Laboratories in Tulsa.
“By the time somebody is really noticing issues and is in a position where they should be getting help is usually seven to 10 years after the problem began,” he said. Worse, hearing loss often can’t be erased. “The longer people go trying to get by without help, the less they can recover,” he said. “It’s kind of a use-it-orlose-it scenario.”
Because hearing loss happens gradually, “we learn to adapt and work around it,” Jackson said. “We ask people to repeat themselves. We tend to read lips a little more often. The TV volume winds up a little louder – maybe too loud for others.”
For a while, the brain fills in the gaps – it might rely on the context of a conversation to make sense of missed words, Jackson said. But eventually, people with worsening hearing loss are less and less able to compensate for what they’re missing. Over time, they “start pulling away. Before you know it, you’re unplugging from those conversations,” he said.
More than ever, hearing loss is a matter of health – and not just mental health issues that result from increasing social isolation, Jackson said. A number of studies are linking hearing loss to biochemical reactions related to such comorbidities as diabetes, high blood pressure and even dementia.
“It’s not just about the TV volume anymore,” he said.
For a lot of people, recognizing that hearing loss is happening is just the first step. The second is dealing with the stigma of hearing aids and the aging they represent.
Charley Feeley, Clear-tone’s hearing care director gets it.
In many peoples’ minds, they may think hearing aids equal old, and they don’t want to feel old.
“But what makes you look older?” he asked. “Having hearing aids, or constantly asking, ‘What? Huh?’
“One of those things we can make virtually invisible,” Feeley said. “The hearing aids are very sleek. It’s a very low-profile device.
“With our newest hearing aids, they pair with a smart phone, so if you need to make an adjustment,” he said, “it looks like you’re just checking an email.”
To get to that point, a person with hearing loss needs a professional’s help. That’s where Clear-tone comes in.
“Our hearing tests are really geared toward making sure people are successful with hearing aids with regard to understanding speech,” Jackson said.
“Our technology is used in 80 percent of the hearing aids sold around the world,” he added. “Our patented technology really laid the groundwork for a lot of that technological revolution in hearing aids.”
At Clear-tone, the consultation and hearing test are free.
“You’ll have time at the appointment to talk to a hearing care professional to answer your questions about styles, financing, technology … whatever,” Jackson said.
“Insurance can, in some cases, cover hearing aids,” he added. “We have a team dedicated to checking on that. We will call the provider, check on the benefit and help you interpret that. We’ll even file the claim for you.”
For more information visit mycleartone.com or call 918-493-4040.