By David Heitz
When Stephanie Rogers’ college journalism professor mistakenly walked into traffic with his nose buried in his newspaper, it forever changed her professional journey.
The professor sadly ended up in traction; and Rogers had to choose a substitute college course: Intro to Speech and Hearing Science. “I thought it was going to be a course in public speaking,” Rogers said. “Instead, it focused on the disorders of the speech and auditory systems, and I just fell in love with the field.”
After completing graduate school at LSU in Audiology, and serving as the Director of Audiological Services for Audibel in Louisiana, she and her husband acquired four Audibel clinics in Mississippi so they could implement their standard for patient care. Today, the Denham Springs, LA, native (along with her dedicated team of hearing professionals) has grown the practice to ten clinics in Mississippi and Alabama by carefully listening to each patient’s needs and working tirelessly to create a personalized answer for them. Her husband works by her side as the COO.
Like all smart business people, Rogers focuses on using the best technology available that not only helps correct hearing loss, but also prevents it. Further, her team is known for their specialty in invisible hearing solutions that allow the patients the opportunity to decide whether to make their hearing loss public.
The iPhone Hearing Aid
One of the biggest advancements in recent years for people with hearing loss is the iPhone hearing aid. “Those who are tech savvy absolutely love the made-for-iPhone hearing aid,” Rogers said. “These are definitely not your parents’ hearing aids.” Further, Audibel has recently released a hearing aid that is compatible with most smart phone platforms.
By utilizing an app on your smart phone, the hearing aids automatically adjust as you move from one sound environment to the next. “You can tell the smart phone ‘I’m at the coffee shop’ and let it adjust automatically to keep the coffee blender from interfering with your conversation.”
The hearing aids also adjust automatically to help limit other distracting background noises. “With a hearing loss, it’s important to get as much focused information to the brain as possible.”
In years past, people who wore hearing aids had to manually adjust them to be able to hold a conversation on the phone. Today, people with a hearing loss can privately stream their telephone conversations directly from their smart phone to their hearing aids hands-free.
“For older patients, we try to help them do as many things hands-free as possible,” Rogers said, “Patients no longer have to put their fingers in their ears to change their settings.”
The hip, younger set can effortlessly stream music from their iPhone, smart phone, iPod, TV, or stereo to their hearing aids. “I have a patient who calls his ‘A3i’ hearing aids his ‘007’ hearing aids,” Rogers said. “When he’s listening to music, nobody knows it but him.”
Bionic Ears for Hunters
Today’s technology isn’t just for treating hearing loss, but to help prevent it as well. For example, Audibel offers electronic ear plugs for hunters that do double duty. They help hunters hear deer rustling in the brush from a distance that the naked ear cannot detect. At the same time, when a hunter fires his gun, the device shuts off — helping to protect the hunter’s ears.
Further, modern coatings have made it easier for people to wear hearing aids or ear plugs in hot, humid climates. Our devices are more waterproof than you may think. “Even if you fall into a pool, today’s hearing aids will be okay if you take them out immediately, remove the batteries, and let them dry.
Don’t Rule Out Hearing Aids for Those Suffering From Dementia
Sometimes staff at assisted living communities will discourage caregivers from getting hearing aids for their loved ones with memory loss. They will say they will get lost, so it’s not worth the money.
“This is one of the battles we fight,” Rogers said. “Without treating a hearing loss, it sadly exacerbates the dementia. Medical studies show hearing aids help lessen symptoms of confusion and anxiety.“
“When someone has dementia, we say to ourselves, ‘How do we make this as simple as possible? How do we make sure they cannot take them out and lose them?’ We use special bungee cords that connect to their collar to help.”
Insurance and Discount Programs
“We sometimes hear ‘I spent too much on my hearing aids and they’re in a drawer,’” Rogers said. “A lot of perceived issues with hearing loss and hearing aids have a simple solution; but, unfortunately, patients get frustrated and give up too quickly without asking if there is a solution. Most times a solution is simple; yet, the skill, knowledge, and patience of your clinician are vital to your overall satisfaction. Unfortunately, not all hearing clinicians deliver the same standard of care. ”
Rarely do insurance companies cover the full cost of hearing aids. “Until there are enough people pushing for hearing aids to be included in coverage, we will remain in the insurance no man’s land,” Rogers said. “It can be pretty frustrating trying to get insurers to help.”
Rogers warned not to be fooled by third-party programs that offer a free fitting, for example. “When you go through a third-party program, very little of the follow-up care and counseling is covered. It’s hard to explain to a patient sitting in front of you that it’s not a good deal for them long-term.”
When purchasing direct from Audibel, you receive the Audibel Platinum Promise — which includes lifetime counseling, cleanings, adjustments, and annual hearing tests to help monitor any decline in your hearing so we can adjust your hearing aids to compensate. Plus, Audibel is an American company.
iPods a Blessing and a Curse
iPods are causing hearing loss in some children. “How many youth do you see walking or running down the street with wires hanging from their ears?” Rogers asked. If someone is standing next to you when you are wearing ear buds and can enjoy your music, you have the volume too loud. I know they don’t want to hear about consequences, but hearing loss is showing up earlier, due to the constant noise that surrounds us.”
Thankfully for children, hearing aids can now be a fashion statement. “Children often want flashier, shinier, and cooler-looking hearing aids, rather than just hiding them,” Rogers said. “They can choose from different colors and characters. Plus, they can feel pretty cool streaming music from their iPod to their hearing aids,” Rogers said.
Audibel: Giving Back in Style
The Rogers’ are proud supporters of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides hearing aids to underprivileged children in the U.S. and around the world. In the U.S., the Hear Now Foundation also helps provide hearing aids to adults who meet a minimum income threshold. Our focus, as well as both foundations, is to help people hear — particularly children during their formative years.
“They allow people who otherwise might not be able to hear to get good technology so they can communicate with their families,” Rogers said. “Bringing families back together is our mission.”
Rogers encourages everyone at age 40 to get a baseline hearing test, and to not be afraid if you learn you might need hearings aids. “Thankfully, hearing aids don’t have the same social stigma they had in the past due to big old ‘plastic-y’ bubble gum hearing aids. The industry has spent a great deal on research to make hearing aids more attractive in style and performance. Really, hearing aids have almost become a piece of jewelry for the fashion conscious.”
Audibel Hearing Healthcare has been serving the Pine Belt with the highest level of care for over 50 years. With 11 offices throughout south Mississippi and Alabama, Audibel delivers the best technology research, quality instruments, and customer service in the hearing industry while offering the highest quality, American made hearing aids available. They also offer custom swim plugs, ear plugs, musicians in-ear monitors, hunter’s ears, and many other hearing protection products and services.
Call 601-329-2946 or 888-354-2143 or visit them at www.audibelms.com for your free hearing exam, and start experiencing
“Better Hearing, Better Life Today!”
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