Connecting Wirelessly

John Colligan traces his sensitivity to loud noises back to his childhood.

“When I was a kid, if my father used a loud tool, like a drill, that kind of noise would startle me,” John recalls. “Alarms going off, sirens, anything naturally loud would make my ears hurt.

John Colligan was fitted for hearing aids at EarCare in Melbourne.

John can hear all outside noises, including his dog, Harry’s barking with his hearing aids from ReSound.

“I admit I just ignored it for years and years,” he continues. “I never really told my parents about it, and there was never access to hearing tests in schools back then. So, I chose to skirt the issue.”

John served for six years in the United States Army and was in the advanced infantry division, where he was exposed to a lot of gunfire. Now, 76 and a retired commercial banker, John says it was one of his clients who first diagnosed his hearing loss decades ago.

“It was a company called Ensoniq, which was instrumental in creating sound cards and musical instruments,” John explains. “In the late Eighties, they dabbled in digital hearing aids, and up until that time, most hearing aids were analog.

“They were one of my clients at the bank, and one day, the representative came in and gave me a hearing test and said to me, You have a pretty significant hearing loss; did you know that?” and I really had no idea. I interacted all the time with clients both in the office and at meetings, and I never noticed I had a hard time hearing them. Sometimes, you really can have hearing loss and not realize it yourself.”

John got his first set of hearing aids at age 48. They were experimental devices made by Ensoniq.

“Hearing aids were not something I thought twice about,” he says. “It always struck me that people would be hesitant to wear them, but wouldn’t hesitate to wear eyeglasses. It’s the same thing.”

Eventually, the company branched away from hearing aids and stuck with what they knew best – making musical instruments.

John says he maintained the hearing aids he got from Ensoniq for about 15 years. He and his wife, Ann, moved to Florida from their native Philadelphia in 2005.  They originally settled in Sarasota, but later relocated to their current home in Satellite Beach.

It was about that time when John’s wife told him his hearing needed to be evaluated again.

“My wife would say to me, You can’t hear me, and I would ignore her. But, once she started repeating herself to me all the time, I decided I needed to go have my hearing tested again. When you have a hearing loss, it’s not that you don’t hear; it’s that you don’t hear clearly.”

John’s wife looked around for hearing centers close to the couple’s home and suggested EarCare.

“I finally listened to her about having my hearing checked, so I figured I better take her advice again and go to EarCare,” John says. “She gives good advice.”

Technological Advancements

John first underwent a thorough hearing evaluation and medical history review by
Dr. Karen Cowan-Oberbeck, a board-certified Doctor of Audiology and owner at EarCare.

Afterward, John met with hearing aid specialist Andrew Clarke, to review his evaluation results and choose a set of hearing aids.

“John has a moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss,” Andrew explains. “It is caused by nerve damage. It can’t medically or surgically be repaired. So, I worked with John to find the best possible hearing aids to improve his hearing and enhance his lifestyle.”

Andrew says one of the most significant changes in hearing devices in recent years is their advanced technological capabilities. One of those state-of-the-art capabilities is wireless connectivity: the ability to wirelessly pair hearing aids with external devices, such as televisions, telephones and computers.

“We see an advancement in technology every three years or so on average,” Andrew explains. “One great thing about John is that he was already aware of many of the advancements and knew what he wanted because he has been wearing hearing aids with digital technology capabilities for a long time.

“We chose the latest ReSound products for John. He watches television each day to catch up on the news, and he uses his cell phone quite a bit. Both of these devices have the capability of streaming wireless audio straight into the hearing aids. The TV volume was always a struggle between John and his wife, so now he can adjust his own sound level right into his hearing aids. And, he can hear other sounds around him – the doorbell, for example. Not only is John streaming sound from the TV, but he is also able to gather sounds from his surrounding environment at the same time. He isn’t shut off from everything else.”

John says he absolutely loves the ReSound devices he has and is impressed with the technology.

“I no longer have to have my wife repeat things, which is helpful for her,” John says. “I can hear clearly now in restaurants and busy places. They are really great hearing aids.”

Andrew emphasizes that because the advanced technology can initially be intimidating to many patients, the hearing professionals at EarCare set up strategic appointments for training. These allow the hearing aids’ capabilities to be introduced, practiced and expanded upon as the patient becomes more familiar and comfortable with the technology.

“I see all of my patients every three to four months just to be sure the hearing aids are operating properly and to their fullest capacity,” Andrew adds. “I take that time to address any issues the wearer is having. There is no cost for these follow-up appointments.”

Patient for Life

The EarCare staff wants people with hearing loss to know that once they become a patient, they will never need to go elsewhere for adjustments. Andrew emphasizes the clinic’s Patients For Life program, where they service a patient’s hearing aids for the life of those hearing aids. This includes regular maintenance and adjustments every few months and annual hearing evaluations.

“We have adopted the Patients For Life program, where we service a patient’s hearing aids for the life of those hearing aids,” Andrew explains. “Patients come back for regular maintenance and adjustments every few months. Every one to two years, a patient’s hearing is tested to ensure the hearing aids are working properly for them. Once you come to us for hearing aids, we continue to care for you for life.”

John says Andrew is an asset to the EarCare staff and a testament to their success.

“He is really caring and takes his time with you to explain everything about your hearing loss and how hearing aids can help you hear better. Andrew is thorough and has a great rapport with people. He’s really a great person.”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photo by Nerissa Johnson. Hearing aid photo courtesy of EarCare. Stock photo from mkb
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    • EarCare, P.A.

      EarCare provides a wide variety of audiological services, including industrial audiological monitoring, hearing aid evaluations and dispensing, hearing aid repairs for all makes and models, and special audiological diagnostics.... Read More

    • Karen Cowan-Oberbeck, AuD, CCC-FAAA

      Catherine (Karen) Cowan-Oberbeck, AuD, CCC-FAAA, completed her undergraduate work at the University of South Florida, Tampa. She earned her Master of Arts degree from the University of Central Florida, Orlando, and her Doctor of Audiology d... Read More

    • Andrew Clarke, HAS

      Andrew Clarke, HAS, is a licensed hearing aid specialist. His specialty areas include personal communication assistance, cerumen management, audiometrics and assistive listening devices. He is a member of the International Hearing Society... Read More