Not too young for a hearing aid | The Riverdale Press

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By Stacy Driks

Ed Ryan, a hearing aid specialist, licensed in New York, says that since the pandemic began, more and more people are coming through the doors of his office – the Beltone NY Hearing Aid Center.

Ryan, who has 16 stores including one in Riverdale, has watched over the past two years how more people are realizing they have hearing loss because COVID-19 masks had covered people’s faces. . They learned that they read lips to compensate for their inability to hear accurately.

“Whether people realize it or not – they learn to read lips and over time, especially during the pandemic – it was so sad because people couldn’t see each other’s lips anymore. nobody,” Ryan said.

Not only was lip-reading a hindrance, but social distancing was too. The ability to hear a voice clearly is great for most, especially for this specific community.

Hearing Loss Association of America – the leading US organization representing the hearing impaired community – found in an online study that 95% of 1,399 hearing impaired people experienced communication problems due to the need to wear masks due to COVID-19. 19.

At the start of the pandemic, essential workers in supermarkets and hospitals came face to face with people with barely an N95 mask to find. But that quickly changed.

In April 2020, when the coronavirus took the city by storm, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded that 62% of adults said they would follow the recommended guidelines. A month later, that number has increased precipitously.

While a large majority of people wore such protection, it was the start of a large amount of eye contact and choking that hurt the hearing impaired community.

The study also found that 35% of respondents with hearing loss said the people around them lacked empathy.

“I don’t know how long I’ve had my hearing aids, but I’m very happy with them. It’s the best investment I’ve ever made,” said 87-year-old Minnie Guarino.

She has been a patient of Ryan at the Beltone Hearing Center in Riverdale for 25 years while traveling from Morris Park in Riverdale regularly for dates

She is happy to be a patient as she chats with the medical staff.

“They’re amazing people, Eddie is an amazing guy, he’s honest and he’s good at what he does, and that’s what’s important,” she said.

Costco has a Hearing Aid Center for mild to moderately severe hearing loss. They offer many similar services to those offered by Belton, such as cleaning, testing, demonstrations, checks and warranties.

Yet Guarino still wants Beltone, not just because of the old-fashioned hearing aids they have for sale, but because the service he gets is more warm and friendly. She pays this extra money for the service Belton provides her.

Lori Mertes, a special needs educator and recipient of bimodal hearing with an implant in one ear and a hearing aid in another, said in a HLAA press release that the pandemic is making it difficult to listen and understand a conversation.

Mertes could hear people but could not understand them. She stressed that people should slow down and speak clearly. What she hates the most are the responses she receives when she asks individuals to repeat themselves.

A lot of them say, “It’s okay.” Mertes doesn’t like being fired.

“If you ever talk to someone who has a hearing loss, they’ll stare at you and listen intently,” Ryan said. “My friend doesn’t want to say, ‘Do you repeat’ or ‘What did you say?'”

People who don’t realize they have a hearing loss often pay more attention to a conversation than the average person.

The association said hearing loss is considered an invisible disease and affects nearly 50 million Americans.

“Lynne (Lynne Kase, an audiologist from Beltone) came out with this mask she found – it was pretty funny,” Ryan said. “It was a transparent mask, and it was kind of cool because you can see her lips.”

Such a mask was created by a deaf woman, according to the association. In the summer of 2020, Eloise Schwarz opened up about how new mask rules were interfering with her daily lifestyle after retiring to Florida.

“How was I supposed to follow anything if I didn’t understand anything?” she asked.

She had to find a solution. And she did. With two scholarships in her pocket, she helped sew transparent masks for the hearing impaired. She bought machinery and equipment.

An unintended consequence of the mask rules was that a large number of people realized they had hearing loss because they previously read lips.

Still, some people are grateful for the extra help.

“My father is an example. We knew that for 12 years – maybe 15, and it took him maybe eight to 10 years to finally admit he had hearing loss,” Ryan said. “He was tested and then he ended up getting hearing aids. And he said to me after I got them, “I didn’t realize what I was missing.”

Some people like Ryan’s father sometimes don’t know or want to disclose that they have hearing loss.

This is the case for most people, because hearing loss begins very gradually. It’s hereditary. The specialist audiologist says that if your parents have hearing loss, chances are you have it too.

“If your vision was blurry, you go get glasses, don’t you?” With your audition, it’s so – it’s so slow,” he said.

In most cases this happens over time and a person will overcompensate for it by read lips or get out of social situations, such as going to a restaurant or a friend’s house.

In addition, hearing aids are expensive and can be expensive. Beltone hearing aids can cost between $2,800 and $7,000.

Newer hearing aids are smaller and less bulky. Once the patient has had a hearing test with Ryan or his assistants, they can get a custom one.

“Technology is improving every year,” Ryan said. “All of a sudden, background noise can be filtered out.”

He says they got hearing aids every few years. Now they receive them every year to keep up to date with new technologies.

The new hearing aids not only offer advanced hearing to the patient, but they have different modes and features, including Bluetooth. The different modes are for outdoors and restaurants. They can be controlled with a smartphone.

But the latest technology can cost a person a few months of salary.

There are a few unions that have health plans that cover hearing aids.

“Hearing aids are expensive,” UFT spokesperson Alison Gendar. “A few months ago, the reimbursement from the United Teachers Federation Welfare Fund increased to $1,500,” said .

Teachers dealing with younger students actually need hearing aids the most.

Young children, including girls, have a higher frequency than most. Ryan’s father once struggled to hear his grandchildren in a restaurant. He heard Ryans daughter talking and heard sounds. But he didn’t understand anything.

Gendar explained that their union members can view a list of vendors for an additional 25% discount. Benefits can be used in conjunction with the New York State United Teacher Member Epic Hearing Aid Program.

New York State employees, especially under the Empire plan, can have hearing aids at no cost.

“Over-the-counter hearing aids are great,” Ryan said. “It raises awareness and gets people to come in earlier to be tested, but it’s really only for mild hearing loss.”

This means that without a prescription, people can buy hearing aids. His practice already has an over-the-counter solution that he has been equipping with his patients for six months.

“People are starting to recognize hearing loss as a disability. It’s one of your senses. If you can’t hear, think about the safety aspects,” he said.

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