Here at Amplifon Hearing Health Care, our goal is to restore the sounds of life to our members. One of our most valuable assets to meet that goal is our nationwide network of hearing health care providers who meet our strict credentialing requirements. Many of these professionals are Audiologists – individuals who’ve attained the pinnacle of their profession. In honor of October’s National Audiology Awareness Month, we are celebrating the incredible work of our audiologist partners and recognizing our two in-house Audiologists. Meet Thomas J. Tedeschi, Au.D., FNAP, our Chief of Audiology and Carrie Meyer, Au.D., our Director of Clinical Programs. The two of them have more than 70 years of combined experience. We sat down with Tom and Carrie to learn more about their passion for hearing health care.
How did you get involved in Audiology?
Tom: I was pursuing a Psychology major and a friend who was working on their Ph.D. in Audiology suggested that I take an Intro to Audiology class as an elective. I took the class and the rest is history.
Carrie: When I started my undergraduate studies, I thought I wanted to be a speech therapist. But during my first few weeks in the speech therapy clinic, I decided that it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. My advisor asked me, “Exactly, what did you think you’d be doing?” I shared with him my overarching view of communication, and he said, “You want to be an Audiologist!” Coincidentally, my mom had a friend whose husband was an Audiologist. He let me follow him around in his clinic, and I fell in love with Audiology.
What is your favorite part about working as an Audiologist?
Tom: My favorite part is seeing the changes in individuals lives as the result of hearing again. This is especially true with children. You see how well they would do in school as they grew. Also, with adults you would see the change in their relationships with family members because they could hear and engage again.
Carrie: The best part about working as an Audiologist was reconnecting people to their families. Hearing loss occurs so gradually most people truly don’t know how much hearing they have lost and how long they have been struggling until they are fitted with hearing aids and rejoin the world. Just a few months ago at a going away party for a friend I had a woman come up to me, give me a big hug and she kept thanking me. I had no idea who she was, but I was on a committee with her husband and he was very hesitant about hearing aids. I gave him a pep talk, told him about the benefits of hearing aids and encouraged him to find an Audiologist. Apparently, he took my advice, saw an Audiologist his primary care doctor recommended and was fitted with hearing aids. As his very happy wife explained, he was hearing and participating in life again.
What is your most memorable story in your time as an Audiologist?
Tom: Placing hearing aids on a 3-month-old baby and just seeing her reaction to hearing sound and how her eyes just got so wide with wonder. Then seeing her mother cry as she realized that her baby could now hear her voice. It was a beautiful moment.
Carrie: I always remember this grumpy patient I had years ago. He had a very severe hearing loss and was incredibly resistant to wearing hearing aids. Once I managed to fit him with amplification, he was still pretty difficult, complaining about everything – sounds were too loud, not loud enough, he didn’t like the way the hearing aids looked or felt in his ears. After several follow-up appointments, he finally accepted wearing his hearing aids. Several months later, he showed up in my office with a badly broken hearing aid. I explained that I would send it for repair immediately, but he would be without the hearing aid for a few days. When he started to complain about being without the hearing aid, I interrupted him and reminded him he always told me he didn’t like his hearing aids and I was surprised he was upset about going without for a day or two. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “You’re right. I really don’t like my hearing aids. But I sure do like being able to hear.”
In your opinion, what is the most important thing people should know about hearing loss? Why?
Tom: Hearing loss can be helped! Today, hearing aids have become so advanced that there is no reason why people should be missing the ability to communicate and be a part of life!
Carrie: I think that people always focus on the very clear issue that hearing loss affects their ability to hear and communicate. However, there is a huge body of evidence indicating hearing loss also affects other aspects of healthy living. For instance, balance – people with even mild hearing loss are more likely to fall. Depression is also a common issue with hearing loss. And, most significantly hearing loss is directly tied to cognitive decline, memory loss and dementia. Treating hearing loss early can improve health and healthy aging.
What do you wish people knew about Audiology/Audiologists?
Tom: First, Audiologists hate it when you tell people what you do, and they jokingly reply with “What” or “Huh”. And second, as Audiologists, we deal with more than hearing aids. Audiologists undergo extensive education learning anatomy and physiology, electrophysiology, acoustics, psychophysics, neurology, vestibular function and underlying conditions. Audiologists deal with identification and remediation of all hearing and balance issues for all ages. We always joke that we see patients from the womb to the tomb!
Carrie: First of all, when I tell you I’m an Audiologist, please don’t say “What?” That joke stopped being funny 30 years ago. Second, I wish that people knew that hearing loss isn’t shameful or embarrassing. It doesn’t mean you’re old – it means you’re human. I wish people knew how many years they have missed out on really special things because they didn’t hear them. I always joke – I love you doesn’t sound very sweet when someone yells it at you.
What advice would you give a loved one of someone who may struggle with hearing loss, but doesn't think they need to get checked?
Tom: Your hearing is not magically going to correct itself overnight and the longer someone waits to get help, the more difficult it is to help them. As we lose our hearing, we also begin to lose our ability to discriminate sound. That discrimination ability is difficult to improve and the longer one waits, the more challenging it becomes. A visit to the Audiologist is painless, and sometimes help is simply removing some wax build up from your ears.
Carrie: I never had one single adult in my office who really believed they had a hearing loss. Every patient I saw was truly surprised when I showed them and explained their hearing loss. My advice would be: stop focusing on hearing loss as a problem. What I kept hearing from patients was that everyone was telling them what was wrong with them. No one wants to be told they have a medical problem – that’s scary and upsetting. Instead, tell them how much you care about them, how much you want them to participate in everything in your family – little things like watching TV and big things like weddings and graduation parties. Tell them that you want them around for a really long time and hearing is a key part of a long and happy life.
Helen Keller said it best. She was asked once if she could have only ONE sense back, which would she choose? Sight or hearing? Everyone was shocked when she said she’d rather be blind than deaf. She explained it like this: “Being blind separates me from things. Being deaf separates me from people.”
Don't wait to address hearing loss
October is the perfect time to schedule a visit with a provider near you and take action to restore any identified hearing loss before the end of the year. Don’t let another precious moment go by without hearing it. Thanks to Audiologists like Tom, Carrie and all those within our network, hearing loss isn’t something you need to live with.