Erasing The Stigma Of Wearing Hearing Aids

Discreet devices so high-tech once-reluctant patient calls them ‘bionic ears’

Candy Swick

Between work and play, Candy Swick stays so busy that “active” falls short of adequately describing her bustling lifestyle.

“A better word is probably ‘hyperactive,’ ” says the popular real estate agent.

Indeed, when she’s not working, Candy is either singing in a band at church, on a mission trip, scuba diving, or skiing on water or possibly even snow.

“I also work out,” says Candy, who recently worked out an issue with hearing loss that she wrestled with for close to eight years.

Unable to clearly distinguish soft sounds, Candy was fit with hearing aids soon after the problem was detected, but she quickly abandoned the devices. Seven years later, she was urged by friends and family to revisit the idea of wearing hearing aids.

“They said I was always asking people to repeat themselves, so I went back to the ear, nose and throat specialist I went to eight years ago,” Candy recalls. “This time, he told me to go see Dr. Breese. He said, She used to work for me and she’s excellent.

Kelly Breese, AuD, is the owner of Hearing Aids of Sarasota. Dr. Breese wears hearing devices herself and understands that, like Candy, people are often hesitant to wear them.

“A lot of people think wearing hearing aids means you’re old,” she says. “But that’s not true. People of all ages wear hearing aids. Hearing aids don’t just treat hearing loss, they also improve brain function. Hearing health is brain health.”

Because the stigma associated with hearing aids played a part in Candy’s hesitance to wear them, Dr. Breese fit her with extremely discreet devices that are so technologically advanced that Candy has dubbed them “bionic ears.”

“That’s her way of putting a positive spin on the fact she’s wearing hearing devices,” says Dr. Breese, who fit Candy with Oticon More hearing aids that include omni-directional hearing and Bluetooth technology.

Omni-directional reception allows the wearer to hear sounds coming from any direction, including behind, while Bluetooth allows the wearer to hear sounds generated by electronic devices.

Candy greatly appreciates all that the devices have to offer.

“Sometimes I have clients in the car with me or when I’m taking a listing and my phone will ring and I’ll answer it without even picking it up,” Candy explains. “I’ve had a few people look at me kind of strangely and ask, How did you do that?

“I tell them, It’s because I have bionic ears, and they ask, What are those? Then I explain it to them, and I’ve had people say, You know, my husband or wife has been thinking of getting those. How do you like them?

“I tell them that getting these bionic ears was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because I don’t want to be that person who doesn’t hear or participate in a conversation and becomes isolated. It was just the smart thing to do.

“And I can’t thank Dr. Breese enough for helping me make that decision. She’s delightful, and what I really like about her is that she has her own bionic ears, so she knows what people with hearing loss are going through. She can relate.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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    • Hearing Aids of Sarasota

      Hearing Aids of Sarasota want to be your anchor in all hearing healthcare needs. Dr. Kelly Breese will provide honest, caring, patient-centered, evidence-based, up-to-date treatment and education.... Read More

    • Kelly Breese, AuD

      Kelly Breese, AuD, is a board-certified doctor of audiology who specializes in the treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus and is fluent in American Sign Language. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida in 2011 and her ... Read More