Feeling Thankful

Gold letters that spell thankful surrounded by fall decor

It is hard to believe we are looking at the end of another year.  This is a time of reflection and planning for us, and I want to give you each a heartfelt thank you for allowing us to guide your hearing health journey.  It is very rewarding when you share how it is easier for you to hear the grandkids from the back seat, or how the new program helps you enjoy a good laugh during a card game. 

When you encourage another to seek our services it is truly an honor.  Your referrals are what keep us growing, and we are up 10% even though we lost several clients in the last year when they moved to a new location or passed on.  As Thanksgiving approaches, please know we count you among our Blessings and hope you have a wonderful holiday when your family and friends draw near.

Our Annual Food Drive is Here

red, Love Hearing mugs in front of a Favorite Sound board

We’re accepting canned food and cash donations for the Council on Aging from now to December 14th! Drop off some canned food items in our office box and receive a new EAR coffee mug! Items will be distributed over the holiday season.   

Take Advantage of New Office Hours

If you haven’t heard yet, we are now open Monday- Thursday from 8 – 530 and Fridays from 8 – noon.  Although we love it when you call ahead for an appointment time, if you need to stop in between 10 and 4 either Deb or Stefanie should be available to help with batteries, wax guards, a replacement dome, reconnecting to a cell phone.  As the weather gets bad, please remember we offer Curb-side Service and would be happy to meet you at your car with the supplies you need, just call us ahead so we have them ready to go and don’t keep you waiting!

Do it Yourself or Over-the-Counter Hearing Devices

Since the CBS show ran a few weeks ago with a spotlight on hearing aids, we’ve been getting more questions about the different options to help people hear better.  Here is a simple outline of options that might work for you.

Personal Sound Amplifiers (PSA) have been around for many years through mail order catalogs and big box stores.  The amplifier might look like a hearing aid, a headset or an earbud compatible with a cell phone.  They range in price from $20- $250. They are a low-cost way to make speech-in-quiet louder.  The biggest negatives we’ve heard about are too much background noise; styles that don’t fit well in many ear canals; or the device offers good noise canceling but has cords and are very large, making them awkward to wear. We have some of these devices on hand in our office to demonstrate and loan out as needed.  They have been quite useful short-term to those bed-ridden or under hospice care who can no longer manage their own hearing device.

Bose self fit hearing aids

Over-the-Counter (OTC) are a new class of devices approved by the FDA. The new devices can be adjusted based on a self-administered hearing test and will be designed to fit mild hearing loss on adults.

The actual regulation for the sale of these devices is still in the works, with a tentative release date sometime in 2019.  The Bose Company is one of the first to report it has a prototype ready to go, but several smartphone manufacturers are also working on devices to release.  The big positive is accessibility and affordability. Since many people have a smartphone already, the low cost of the app or earbuds needed will make accessibility to better hearing much more affordable…about $500 in total.  The other positive is that awareness about hearing loss and treatment options should increase with the possibility of them become more “fashionable” to wear.

Concerns about Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

Our biggest concern with the over-the-counter, do-it-yourself approach is that people who test themselves might miss a medical condition that should be treated or that the device might be purchased for a child who would be better served through treatment with an audiologist or ENT physician.

Regardless of a PSA, or OTC purchase approach it is best to have a licensed professional check the integrity of the ear canal for any blockage or perforation. Hearing “test” results that are not fairly similar for each ear should also be a “red flag” to see your audiologist or physician for an appropriate evaluation of the hearing system and any further medical referral.

We know we are biased, but from our education, research and experience, we know individuals are better treated and have better results when a professional, licensed audiologist is working with them face-to-face.  We also know many people avoid going to doctors and it is very convenient to have something shipped to the house to give it a try. Any device you are fitting to yourself will have a significant cost savings.  However, we might be able to help you get better results after a professional evaluation and coaching session(s), so if you know someone who bought something elsewhere, is confused, or needs help we are just a phone call away.

When Their Hearing Loss Affects You

Most people who come see us come at the request of a physician or a family member. At first, many are reluctant to move forward with a treatment plan —even when they are faced with the reality of hearing loss.  They don’t want to feel or look old, they worry about the expense. 

I watch them get over the hump when family, friends, or co-workers express that “taking care of your hearing health is a gift to me, too.”  Some family members even do research to help loved ones get educated on the other effects of hearing loss and the features, benefits, and ease-of-use for today’s hearing aid models that will help them feel young and in-the-know again!

You can be that support for a loved one, and we can give comprehensive testing without being condescending or pushy.

Who do you know that needs a nudge?

The EAR Difference 

As an audiologist, I use technology and tech-free methods to treat patients.  I provide a tiered process to diagnosing hearing loss as it helps direct steps for treatment. Providing a hearing aid is not my end game—better communication and better general health are my goals for you and all my clients.  I don’t fit every patient with the same product or the same features.  I don’t fit all high end or just low-end devices. I purposefully chose what I think will assist a patient best.  I ask lots of questions based on my training and get the patient involved in the decision-making process.

Certified Audiologist Sharon Hirstein

Most patients are not able to make their hearing devices “work” by themselves, which is why we offer training, follow up, service appointments and respond to phone calls on a daily basis. We diagnose problems and help resolve them quickly. We save you time and reduce frustration trying to figure it out for yourself.

When hearing devices don’t fit well, they become an annoyance, which makes you far less likely to wear them. My real ear verification process and variety of non-custom and custom-fit earpieces allow our patients to get superior hearing results. Each small decision I make is based on education, training and experience that’s extremely valuable in the decision-making process. Often, patients who buy hearing aids without consultation struggle to get the proper fit and features for their needs. We achieve results for our patients that positively impact their daily lives and allow them to restore the youthful quality of life we all yearn to keep.

In the same way that you may order pipes at a big box store without installing them yourself, it’s best to go through your hearing health journey with guidance. There are choices to be made, and there are differences in cost and support.  We can offer you support one visit at a time or we can provide you with the best patient experience. We can also teach you to do some cleaning and adjustments yourself. It is a good thing to have options… and we want to continue to be your first option for professional, caring, high-quality hearing assistance!

5 Ways to Pay: Introducing A New, Budget-Friendly Option 

Person making a budget in a journal

In addition to accepting cash, check and charge payments, we also offer a 12 month, interest-free financing plan and an all-new Allegro Leasing Option. This lease includes low monthly payments and the ability to upgrade after 3 years or buy-out in 48 months. For people who appreciate financial predictability and the comfort of knowing they’re getting the best technology and service at a low monthly rate, leasing is the best choice. 

Plus, they’ll never be out of warranty repair or face service charges as long as the lease continues—it’s a high-end hearing subscription! If you have questions about any of our payment plans, give us a call at (574) 262-3277 or email me directly at [email protected]. We look forward to finding which solution works for you.

All the Best,



Bonus Hearing Humor 

Sometimes hearing loss brings out humor in day-to-day scenarios. Enjoy this hearing mix-up from a client (who wasn’t wearing hearing aids, of course!)

What Was Said: My mixer died this morning.

What Was Heard: I missed you guys this morning.

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