Two local hearing providers help individuals regain quality of life through hearing.
By Andrea Walker
Photography by Erin Kirkland
Sponsored by Oakland Hearing Aid Center
Imagine sitting next to a loved one and realizing that you are no longer able to hear them clearly. Or, ordering your favorite coffee and not being able to decipher what the barista asked. As with many adults, the aging process can cause hearing loss. Naturally, when a person cannot hear, they begin to withdraw from conversation. They may even stop engaging in activities they once loved.
For many, not being able to hear clearly, and the lack of communication associated with it, can lead to depression or a feeling of isolation. Hearing providers Colleen Newman and Hillary Wright from Oakland Hearing Aid Center have made it their mission to help those struggling with hearing loss maintain their independence and connect with the world around them.
“We have seen patients take up to five years before they seek help for hearing loss or become aware of the problem,” Newman says. “We want to raise awareness so that individuals are seeking help sooner, and loved ones know the importance of encouraging their family members to seek help.”
An early sign of hearing loss is an individual’s need to have things repeated. Or they may increase the volume on the television or radio.
“Another sign to watch for is a loved one answering questions inappropriately with an answer that does not make sense or is unrelated to what was asked,” Wright says. “These are the signs to have a conversation about hearing loss and consult a hearing professional to obtain a hearing test.”
In addition to an increase in depression or isolation caused by hearing loss, there are also safety factors to consider. Newman and Wright share the importance of ensuring that loved ones can hear important noises like doorbells, ringing phones, fire alarms and other warnings.
Communication is key to every part of our lives,” Newman says. “One of my favorite things to tell patients is, ‘I want you to wear your hearing aids so you can hear better and enjoy life. I do not care if the dresser drawer hears better.’ ”
Newman and Wright have spent more than 10 years helping people enjoy a better quality of life through hearing assistance at Oakland Hearing Aid Center. The Farmington Hills office opened in 2006, followed by a Royal Oak office in 2014. They work closely with the Rontal Clinic, a group of leading ENT specialists.
Together, Newman and Wright have more than 40 years of experience working at the Rontal Clinic as hearing providers. Newman earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in audiology from Michigan State University and is licensed in audiology by the state of Michigan. She is also a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
“We are here to truly help patients realize what they are missing out on — the laughter of a loved one, the birds chirping and being able to engage in everyday conversation,” Newman says. “I entered into this profession to help make a difference in people’s lives. Helping people hear better is what fuels my passion for this profession.”
Wright is a licensed hearing instrument specialist in Michigan. She has been a member of the International Hearing Society since 2011, receiving her national board certification in 2016.
“I personally love the relationships we get to build with the patients and their loved ones. Most patients tend to feel more like close friends and family to me,” Wright says. “There are so many great feelings we get to share together. Often, on the first visit, the patient is very quiet and not engaged. By their follow-up appointment, they seem like new, happier individuals that can enjoy the little moments in life more.”
They encourage everyone to allow a professional to educate both the patient and loved ones about hearing loss to gain realistic expectations about amplification outcomes. Together, Newman and Wright have helped hundreds of people regain a quality of life, live safely and enjoy communicating with loved ones again.
Oakland Hearing Aid Center
28300 Orchard Lake Road, Suite 101, Farmington Hills
3555 West 13 Mile Road, Suite 200, Royal Oak