More to hearing aids than meets the ear

All about planning for lifestyle at Global Hearing Aid Clinic

Audiologist Jeffrey Switzer has to do some sleuthing to find the right hearing aid for his clients.

“It’s a bit like Sherlock Holmes,” says Switzer, who runs Global Hearing Aid Clinic on Yonge Street at Lawrence Avenue W.

Switzer says not all hearing aid devices are created equally and work differently depending on the size of the room and the number of people in the space.

“If they don’t tell you and you don’t ask, then you don’t know and what happens later is that you’ve got a hearing aid that’s going to last four, five years and then in the first year they’re changing their environment and now the hearing aid doesn’t work — what are you going to do?” he says. “So you have to plan for the future as well. That’s the fun part of what I do is looking at all that stuff.”

Through the process, he says he’s found out before his patients made a purchase that they actually needed a very different model, such as the case for a client who had a very quiet lifestyle but was moving into a retirement residence in the coming month.

“Now they’re having dinner with 30 to 50 to 100 other residents, three times a day, which is like being in a busy restaurant for three hours a day,” he says. “You actually need a pretty fancy noise controlling hearing aid to handle that stuff and give you a better sound quality.”

Switzer says one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding hearing aids is people often think they’re only for old people. In reality he says it isn’t the case and his clients are as young as two years old.

“I have lots of preteens,” he says. “I have teenagers as clients and certainly working age, the 20 to 65 is actually the majority of my business and of course 65 plus you can guarantee you have some hearing loss and probably it should be treated for sure.”

Before going to school in the field, Switzer says he worked in architecture, which he says still comes in handy today to help people comprehend why they can’t hear in certain rooms.

“If you understand architecture and acoustic properties of rooms and all of the sound and energy and things that go well into hearing in those spaces you can help them understand,” he says. “The good thing is my generation, which is the tail end of the baby boomers, we do see things a little differently and I’m starting to see that change in the industry. We’re more willing to say, ‘Hmm, something’s not right about our hearing, what can we do about it?’ ”

Switzer says the clinic offers services ranging from hearing tests and device fittings to consultations and follow-up services. He hopes to build lifelong relationships with his clients.

“Hopefully what they realize when they come in here is that they become part of a family almost, where they are welcome any time that they need help,” he says.

Reflecting on the last decade of running his own business, he says one of the biggest changes is how hearing aids are much better than they used to be.

He says every day on the job is rewarding as he gets to help people and enjoys working for himself and not responsible to anyone else other than his patients.

“Every single patient is different even if on paper they look the same,” he says. “They all have their own needs and their own values on things so you have to work with each patient and get them to the point where they need to be.”

About this article:

By: Ann Ruppenstein
Posted: May 14 2012 6:27 pm
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto