How advancements in devices have led to better hearing
By Sue Baldani
Like our other senses, hearing is paramount to enjoying life to its fullest. The better we can communicate, the more successful we’ll be in relationships, careers, and interactions with the world around us.
Fortunately for those with mild to moderate hearing loss, hearing devices have undergone dramatic technological improvements over the years. They are basically now mini-computers, and are capable of many different functions.
“The work I get to do allows me to feel like a superhero,” says Dr. Tina Jessee, an audiologist who has been practicing since the early 90s. “It’s amazing because I really can change people’s lives with the technology I’m fitting.”
She opened Good Sound Audiology in 2002, which now has locations in Mesa, Gilbert, and Sun Lakes. She knows that some people are resistant to the idea of hearing aids, or may be in denial that they need them.
“It’s an emotional disease,” says Dr, Jessee. “It might generate feelings of aging. Hearing loss isolates us and causes anger and depression.”
One of her patients, Thomas Baer, is glad that he found Dr. Jessee back in the early 2000s. Born with a birth defect that caused hearing issues, he gave up on seeking help many years before.
“I never really had great experiences with hearing aids,” says Thomas. “They were huge and clunky and broke down quite often.”
It wasn’t until he got married that he and his wife Brenda talked it over and decided he should give hearing aids another chance.
“I was missing out on so many things,” he says. “It’s really stressful on your partner because you keep having to ask them to repeat or sometimes you think you heard it this way and it wasn’t that way.”
Dr. Jessee says modern hearing aids are really changing people’s lives, because hearing better is living better. They can effectively communicate with friends and family.
“Dr. Jessee wants you to not only hear, but to hear with a capital H, because she wants that experience to be perfect for you,” says Thomas.
There are now blue tooth hearing devices, she explains, so anything that comes out of your smartphone can go directly through your hearing devices. So, if you want to go for a run and listen to music, you don’t need to wear anything else. You can double tap on your hearing devices and just like with Alexa, you can ask, “What’s the capital of New York?” or “How’s the weather in Panama?” They can also count your steps or call someone if you fall down.
For Thomas, these newer hearing devices continue to have a positive effect not only on his life, but for those around him as well.
“Phone conversations, music, and television can be streamed directly into my ears, and I can control the volume for myself without having to make it loud for everybody in the room,” he says.
He and Dr. Jessee meet on a quarterly basis, so she can find out the types of experiences he is having and how his hearing devices may have to be tweaked to accommodate those changes.
“What makes Dr. Jessee so great is that she listens so that I can hear better,” says Thomas. “She’ll ask me what I’m struggling with and can turn settings up or down. I also have the ability to do that myself on my phone application. The jumps in technology have been phenomenal.
One of the jokes I have with Dr. Jessee is that I’m pretty much an every three- or four-year upgrader because I’m a technology guy, that’s my career, and I just love the advances they’re making.”
And he says, having better hearing has improved his relationship with his wife.
“We are now more clear to each other,” he says. “I’m not missing conversations. We have a grandson and it’s really great to listen to him and hear him laugh.”
The couple also spend a lot of time outdoors, and now Thomas can hear the birds singing. And because his hearing devices are water resistant, he can exercise as vigorously as he wants. Perspiration will not affect them.
“Don’t hesitate,” he says. “Go to an audiologist like Dr. Jessee. You’re missing out on so much in life. There’s no excuse now not to go get them. Go check with someone, because you may have preconceived ideas of what hearing aids are and they have changed dramatically.”
Dr. Jessee agrees. “We have this amazing technology now, and I really want people to understand how wonderful better hearing is. It’s life changing. Joy and satisfaction of life increases.”
Written for Chandler Lifestyle magazine in Chandler, Arizona.