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Professionals Share What It's Like to Help People Hear

Published: 07/06/2015

Last Updated: 07/06/2015

Human communication

“Communication is the essence of being human.  Under the larger banner of communication is hearing—and hearing loss,” says audiologist Paul Rook. He’s been practicing audiology for over 30 years, and every single day has brought the reward of helping people to hear again.

On average, a person waits over seven years to seek help with their hearing loss from a hearing healthcare professional. During that time, untreated hearing loss can leave them feeling isolated and unable to remember what hearing well is truly like. Sometimes, people are hesitant to try hearing aids for fear of letting the world know that they have hearing loss, but the benefit of hearing better far outweighs any drawbacks they might expect.

“First-time users of hearing aids instantly become physically in touch with the world around them.  Bird songs, squeaky floors, ticking clocks, and a myriad of other sounds...are brought to life,” Rook recounts. “First-time users instantly communicate with friends in ways that enhance their psychological and emotional wellbeing. Probably the most rewarding and moving experience is that during which the patient is brought to tears because he or she can now hear. Words, sometimes difficult to express, are for the most part unnecessary.”

When you imagine every day of your professional life going something like that, it’s not surprising to hear that audiologist was named the least stressful job of 2014 by CareerCast.com.

And Rook is not alone. A certified hearing instrument specialist for over 15 years, Teresa Blimkie says that patients “walk out of the office a little taller with more confidence than when they came through the door. [They] tell us what a difference we have made in their quality of life.” She feels a great deal of satisfaction when her patients tell her of their experiences feeling more connected to the world, hearing their grandchildren or other loved ones, understanding and following conversations for the first time in a long time, or no longer living in fear of losing their job because of communication barriers.

There’s even more good news: over 95% of hearing losses can be helped by the use of hearing aids. That means all these benefits aren’t just for a select few; almost anyone with hearing difficulties can have the world opened up to them through better hearing.

John Kenul, a 26-year veteran of the hearing healthcare field, knows this to be true. He spends some of his time in prisons, evaluating inmates’ hearing abilities and providing them with hearing aids for what’s often the first time in their lives. He finds great fulfillment in this.

“When you do an evaluation, observe the audiogram, and hear that they have never had amplification, it occurs to you that there was nowhere else but jail for so many of these [people],” he says. “After all, who would hire a young man with 70-80% hearing loss? He can't respond properly to customers. He is left out of society, as so many of our everyday patients [are].” When they use hearing aids for the first time, he says, “the realization hits: ‘Wow, I can hear everything! This is the way I am supposed to hear?’ They laugh and smile, and even the officers get a kick out of it.”

With an “ear-opening” experience like this at the end of the journey, why wait to get your hearing tested?

Blimkie said it best: “Communication is a vital part of our health and overall wellbeing, and it is through our hearing that we are able to properly communicate. Don’t be afraid to take the first step to better communication by having your hearing tested, and don’t be afraid to try [hearing aids], as the benefits that can be attained far outweigh any stigma you may perceive to be attached.”

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