High-Tech Hearing

Technological advancements create new, improved world of sound.

If you happen to have one of those old Series EE or HH US Savings Bonds tucked away inside a safety deposit box or a secret cubbyhole inside your house somewhere, there’s a good chance Graham* had a hand in printing it.
Graham spent four years back in the early 70s running the printing presses in Washington, DC that produced not only those savings bonds, but treasury checks such as the kind you get from the IRS when you receive a tax refund.
He has the hearing loss to prove it.Stock photo from istockphoto.com.
“I was actually working for IBM back then because they ran all the presses that printed those bonds and checks,” recalls Graham, now 66. “I worked that job for about four years, until I was about twenty or twenty-one. That’s where I lost my hearing.”
Graham didn’t lose all of his hearing working in that noisy printing plant. He lost enough in both ears, however, that he was forced to begin wearing hearing aids some 40 or more years before most people do.
Now a programmer for Lenovo, maker of the ThinkPad® laptop computer, Graham has been wearing Miracle-Ear hearing aids since he first lost his hearing, including receiving an upgrade about four years ago after he moved to Florida.
It was last November that Graham began inquiring about another upgrade and was told during a visit to the Miracle-Ear location near his Palm Coast home that it might be in his best interest to wait until after the first of the year.
The reason Graham was encouraged to wait was because Miracle-Ear was producing a new line of hearing aids that included some significant upgrades in technology that would dramatically improve his hearing and lifestyle.

Night and Day Difference

“Just as it is with most everything else in the tech world, the technology available in hearing aids has improved markedly in the last five years,” explains Melanee Bryans, LHAS, the Miracle-Ear specialist who works with Graham.
“The differences are literally like night and day, and as I explained some of these new features to Graham and told him about the computer chip in the new hearing aids, I could see he was getting really excited about what the new hearing aids could do for him.
“Being that he’s in the computer industry and still travels a lot for business, I knew there were some features that he was really going to like. That’s why I thought it would be worth it for him to wait for the new technology.”
Graham received his new hearing aids shortly after the first of the year. Taking Melanee’s advice, he opted for a pair of ME-1 5500 series instruments that allows for better hearing in all types of environments and includes a direct streaming feature.
The latter technology allows sounds generated by an external electronic source such as a TV set, radio or telephone to be heard directly through the hearing device, which makes for a much clearer, cleaner sound.
“With direct streaming, you’re not losing any of the sounds you’re trying to focus on because of all the ambient noise that may be around you,” Melanee explains. “That’s a feature that is proving to be very popular, especially with people who watch a lot of TV.
“If you’re sitting at home watching television with your spouse, for example, you can stream the TV directly into the hearing aid. That allows you to hear the TV clearly while your spouse can enjoy it as well but at a level that is comfortable for them.

“The new technology has made a big difference for me. It’s really improved, even over what was available to me last year.” – Graham

“The other thing about the streaming technology which is great for Graham is that it allows him to be hands free whenever he’s on the telephone. That’s huge for him because he drives a lot for business and takes a lot of business calls while he’s driving.”
The new hearing aids Graham received also have a feature called patient-voice recognition that eliminates the problem some people with hearing deficiencies have recognizing and understanding their own voices when they speak.
“It’s a critical part of the communication process that in addition to being able to hear what is being said to you, you can also hear what you are saying and are able to hear yourself say it naturally,” Melanee relates.
“With this new technology that Graham now has in his new hearing aids, he gets that more natural sound of his own voice. That helps him more naturally process what he sounds like, which creates a much more comfortable environment for the wearer.”

Life Made Easier

Graham quickly gained a great appreciation for all that his new hearing aids allow him to do. For example, after years of paying little or no attention to whatever his wife was watching on TV because he couldn’t hear it, he is now more engaged in that aspect of life.
“Now that I can listen to the TV with her again, it’s so much better and more enjoyable for me,” Graham says. “And the technology that allows me to hear my phone calls through the hearing aid is really nice. That’s one of the best things they’ve done.
“It’s made my life a lot easier, and I really like the technology that allows me to make adjustments so that if I’m in a restaurant or somewhere where there’s a lot of noise, I can block out everything but the conversation I’m having with someone.
“It’s hard when you can’t hear in an environment like that, and now that I’m a senior myself, I’ve seen a lot of other seniors struggle with that and have even seen some of them begin to isolate themselves because of it.”
Graham says he never reached a point where he began to isolate himself in any way, but he could see how that might have happened had he not received his new hearing aids with all the new technological advances.
“The new technology has made a big difference for me,” Graham relates. “It’s really improved, even over what was available to me last year. I’m really glad that Melanee suggested I wait for the new technology because that was the right call.
“She did a great job setting me up with my new hearing aids, and she’s always very supportive. She’s really knowledgeable and caring, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”

*Patient’s name changed at his request.
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