PHOENIXVILLE - Residents that need assistance with hearing aids have another place to go for help in Phoenixville.
Recently, a Hearing Aid Associates office opened at the Valley Forge Professional Center.
In operation since 1967, Hearing Aid Associates' first office opened in Reading. Other offices include Boyertown, Pottstown and Cleona.
An office opened in Phoenixville after the owner saw a need for it in town.
'We expanded to Pottstown seven years ago and some of our patient base was in the Phoenixville area,' said Ed Grabarek, owner of Hearing Aid Associates. 'We also thought there was a market for people in the need of quality products and service as related to their hearing needs. Based on the demographics of the area, the active senior community down here, there is a market down here. There is not a hearing practice that is not committed to the level of customer service that we are.'
Hearing Aid Associates offers at home service at no cost to its customers. The practice also offers free educational seminars for senior centers and clubs.
Grabarek said a few years ago, he led a seminar at Spring Mill Senior Living.
Hearing Aid Associates offers monthly cleanings for hearing aids and staff training (free of charge) for assisted, independent and skilled nursing facilities, Grabarek said.
'We'll do first, second and third shift trainings on hearing aid repair, battery replacement and cleaning tubes,' he said.
Grabarek said not everyone with hearing loss seeks help right away because hearing loss can go unnoticed or people don't like how hearing aids look.
'(Hearing loss) goes unrecognized because one thing we do is compensate for our hearing loss,' he said. 'We compensate with our visual cues. We turn up the TV a little louder and we ask people to repeat.'
'There's no pain involved with hearing loss,' Grabarek said. 'Of course there are aesthetics and vanity. A lot of people feel handicapped or older. Today that's not an issue because there are hearing aids that are invisible.'
The Lyric product is something people can wear continuously for four months.
'It's planted deep in the ear canal,' Grabarek said. 'You shower with it. You sleep with it.'
He said the Lyric hearing aids have a 30-day trial with no cost and obligation.
Grabarek said Hearing Aid Associates has been ranked as the top five Siemens products dealers in the nation.
One out of three people older than 60 are affected by hearing loss, Grabarek said.
'Hearing loss affects 37 million Americans and that's expected to grow to 80 million in the next 10 years,' he said.
When customers with hearing loss first come to Hearing Aid Associates, they undergo an evaluation so that the staff can find out 'where they are not doing as well at one time,' Grabarek said.
'One thing that we really look for is not so much are they having difficulty hearing, but where are they having difficulty understanding speech and having the inability to communicate with other human beings,' he said.
He said the environments where people have trouble may include TV watching, one on one conversations, noisy restaurants and other social situations.
After the evaluation, staff members talk to customers about what kind of technology will work for them.
Grabarek said, 'One of the things that we do that is really unique is that for folks that have worn hearing aids before, but the hearing aids have never met their expectations, we'll find a solution for them. We're so confident of that we allow the folks to try different products until we find a solution for them that satisfies their need. There's no cost for that. There's no obligation. The only thing they need to do is invest their time with us.'
He said there are trials for all of the products.
Clients come to Hearing Aid Associates every four months at no charge for follow-up appointments. Each year their hearing is retested.
'If there's a change in the hearing loss, the hearing instruments today are all digitally programmable so it keeps up with the hearing loss,' Grabarek said. 'It's like when you go to the optometrist once a year. The eye doctor checks your vision and he says 'We have to change your prescription' or 'We don't have to change your prescription.''