Hear You Loud & Clear

Advanced hearing aid technology greatly improves speech clarity.

Everyone has heard of love at first sight. But what about love in the first grade? It actually happens quite often, according to experts, and typically with girls such as Cecelia Franzen, who found her forever love in the first grade and never let go.

George Franzen playing the piano while his wife, Cecelia, looks on.

Cecelia and George Franzen

The fact that he was “an older man” didn’t dissuade her a bit.

“He was older than me because his mother had held him back a year,” Cecelia says of George, her husband of 60 years. “But that didn’t bother me. By the fourth grade I knew I was in love, and I never looked at another man.

“He actually had a different girlfriend for a while. That was in the eighth grade, and it broke my heart. But we were dating again by the time we were sophomores in high school and we got married two years out of high school.”

Cecelia and George went on to raise six children, with Cecelia doing most of the heavy lifting as a stay-at-home mom to all of them. While raising their family, the couple bounced from Ohio to Connecticut and even to Toronto before retiring to Florida in 1996.

Throughout that journey, Cecelia has fought a constant battle with hearing loss. The problem is one that she first took note of when she was 25 and couldn’t hear a neighbor calling to her from across
the street.

“Since then, I’ve learned that I have high-frequency hearing loss,” Cecelia relates. “I can hear all the vowels when people speak, but I can’t hear all the consonants. If someone asks me, What kind of hearing aids do you have? I might answer, It’s 10 o’clock.

To correct the problem, Cecelia was first fit with hearing aids when she was in her early 30s. She’s received several upgrades, but they did very little to improve her hearing.

“All these upgrades were supposed to be these new high-tech hearing aids,” Cecelia reports. “But all they did was amplify the sound. That didn’t help me because I can hear people’s voices. What I have trouble with is understanding their words.”

Say What?

Cecelia’s word comprehension is enhanced by her ability to read lips. That’s a skill many with hearing loss develop naturally over time. Take that away, however, and her understanding drops significantly. Cecelia learned just how much as the coronavirus spread.

“Most people were wearing masks during the COVID crisis, and when I can’t see someone’s mouth moving it’s like I’m lost at sea,” Cecelia laments. “If I had a doctor’s appointment or something, I always took my husband along because I couldn’t understand a thing the doctor was saying even with my hearing aids.

“It was very frustrating, and I could tell the situation was getting worse because unless they were standing right in front of me, I was having a great deal of difficulty hearing anybody. It was pretty much an impossibility, so I decided it was time for me to get new hearing aids. That’s why I went to EarCare.”

While at EarCare, Cecelia learned the degree to which she struggles to understand words. As part of a comprehensive hearing exam conducted by Karen Cowan-Oberbeck, AuD, FAAA, CCC-A, Cecelia was given a speech recognition test. That test showed that without hearing aids Cecelia comprehends just 24 percent of words.

Even while wearing hearing aids, Cecelia understood only 44 percent of the words. As a result, Glenn Oberbeck, BC-HAS, of EarCare agreed that Cecelia was in need of new hearing instruments. Thankfully, he had just the right upgrade.

“I explained to her that there’s some new technology in the ReSound ONE hearing aids that should greatly improve her quality of life,” Glenn reports. “I also explained that this model has a number of features and accessories that would really help her.”

One feature is called Sound Recover. It makes frequencies audible that were not previously. In Cecelia’s case, the feature allows her to hear the consonants she was missing and better understand words.

“The amount of clarity people are getting for everyday use from these hearing aids is just remarkable,” Glenn notes. “But there are also some accessories that allow us to improve someone’s speech recognition in other environments.

“For example, most people with severe hearing loss really struggle to hear clearly in a crowded environment such as a restaurant. These hearing aids take care of that with an accessory called a Multi Mic that can be used in a number of ways.

“You can wear the microphone on a lanyard around your neck, so it will pick up the sound of the person you’re talking to. You can also place it in the center of a table and it will pick up the voices of all the people sitting within a six-foot radius.”

The ReSound ONE hearing aid also includes Bluetooth technology that allows the wearer to stream sounds wirelessly from a television, computer, tablet or smartphone through their hearing aids. It’s a feature that further improves clarity and word understanding.

A Religious Experience

In accordance with Glenn’s recommendation, Cecelia agreed to try the ReSound ONE device. The impact was immediate and impressive. Speech recognition improved to 72 percent in her left ear and 80 percent in her right. Just as Glenn suggested, the improvement in speech recognition greatly improved Cecelia’s quality of life.

“I’m hearing better than I have in decades,” Cecelia enthuses. “I can sit down with a group of people just about anywhere and hear everybody perfectly.

“And another thing I could never do before that I can do now is hear the homily in church on Sunday. Or if I could hear it, I couldn’t understand most of what was said. But the first Sunday after I got my new hearing aids, I nudged my husband and said, I can hear what he’s saying. I was so thrilled with that.”

Cecelia is equally thrilled with the care she receives at EarCare.

“The service is absolutely magnificent,” Cecelia raves. “They strongly encourage you to come in every four to six months for a checkup whether you’re having a problem or not, and I like that. I just can’t say enough great things about Glenn and everyone else there.

“Glenn listens to everybody so well, and if there’s something he can do to help you, he’s going to do it. He never hesitates and takes all the time necessary to help you hear the best you can. He’s a special guy. And EarCare is a special place that I have gladly recommended to many friends.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo by Jordan Pysz. js
Print This Article