LANCASTER — For Lancaster resident Jerry Koehler, 50, hearing loss has been a problem for nearly 20 years, gradually getting worse.
As well as threatening his job, the loss had also put a strain on his family life, causing tension between his wife and four children.
In December, Koehler received two hearing aids through the Miracle Ear Foundation, and he said it’s already made a huge difference to his family and his job.
MEF’s Gift of Sound program helps children and adults with hearing loss access hearing aids. The program is designed for people who demonstrate a personal inability to financially support their hearing health needs.
Koehler said he’s known about his hearing loss since 2003, but they’re expensive, so he waited to get some. Then there was renewed urgency to find a solution, as an exam to keep his commercial driver’s license was coming up in January.
“My wife is staying with the kids, I am the sole breadwinner in our family. This job is all we have to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. I needed make sure I could pass the exam, but the biggest concern about my hearing was the lack of communication with my family,” Koehler said. “It’s caused some tension recently. I have to ask my wife to repeat herself, and I have to ask what the kids said. They felt ignored and frustrated that they had to repeat themselves so often.”
Koehler said he saw a flyer advertising affordable hearing aids and went to the Miracle Ear office in Lancaster. She was told the advertised hearing aids wouldn’t work with her condition, but the technician helped Koehler apply for the Gift of Sound program.
“This visit was on December 18th and I was able to get the hearing aids on December 30th. It was miraculous. Without the hearing aids my hearing was maybe 20% but with them it instantly went away 60%, and it’s so much better,” he said. “I can’t really hear the upper register, or the consonants. I had kind of practiced lip reading, but that meant I had to face who I was talking to.”
“Now I don’t even need subtitles on the TV anymore, and things can only get better from here.”
Mike Gedeon, operations manager at Miracle Ear and franchisee, said the benefits the Koehlers have enjoyed so far are exactly why the Gift of Sound is so important.
“Unlike other disabilities or impairments, hearing loss can be very subtle. It’s something that can take years to notice and cannot be instantly corrected. For Jerry, correcting his hearing loss was essential because he has a family to support and his job depends on his hearing,” Gedeon said. “It was amazing to be able to help him and his family when they have so much at stake. And especially with his impairment affecting his relationship with his children, it must have been overwhelming for them to think that their father ignored them, when he just couldn’t hear them.”
It’s the Gift of Sound’s mission, Gedeon said, to connect people who need help hearing who can’t afford it. He explained that everyone’s needs are different, so the right solution for one person may not cost the same for someone else.
“So there are criteria that people have to meet, like income and financial need. The cost of repairing hearing loss can certainly be prohibitive, and unlike visual aids like glasses, it takes time to heal. “Getting used to hearing aids. It’s a rehab process to get the best out of them,” Gedeon said.
He explained that the foundation will also help Koehler with the future treatment and maintenance of his hearing aids.
“One thing people may not know is that aftercare is included with the gift of hearing aids, for life. Just like with glasses, prescriptions to correct hearing need to be updated. , and there’s also general wear and tear too,” Gedeon mentioned.
For Koehler, being able to hear from his family again, in addition to being safe to get his certification, is “huge”.
“Right from the start, my hearing improved so much. It’s already made a difference at home and at work. During the fitting, I broke down. I couldn’t believe it. I’m so grateful for the help we’ve gotten, and all the other people who’ve been helped over the years. There’s no way they won’t feel as grateful as I did,” he said. am really looking forward to having a good weekend, with good weather, to be able to go and enjoy the outdoors. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to enjoy nature, and now it’s something I can’t wait to share with my kids as they grow up.”
Barrett Lawlis is a reporter for the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette. You can share story ideas or comments with him at 740-681-4342 or email [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BarrettLawlis
This article originally appeared on Lancaster Eagle-Gazette: Donation of hearing aids helps Lancaster man reconnect with family