About the Hearing Matters Podcast
The Hearing Matters Podcast discusses hearing technology (more commonly known as hearing aids), best practices, and a growing national epidemic - Hearing Loss. The show is hosted by father and son - Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS and Dr. Gregory Delfino, CC, located in Bethlehem, Nazareth, and East Stroudsburg, PA. C-A. Blaise Delfino and Dr. Gregory Delfino treat patients with hearing loss at Audiology Services.
Moving Forward with Hearing Technology
In this episode Dr. Gregory Delfino and Blaise Delfino speak with Nazareth native David Smith, a longtime family friend. David explains that the tipping point for him to move forward with hearing technology came when he was 55 years old. He realized he was asking his coworkers, family members and peers to continually repeat themselves. He knew others were becoming very frustrated with him.
His wife would often help him when ordering in a restaurant, when he didn’t hear the waitress. If he was in a noisy coffee shop alone, for example, he’d become nervous about having to order and not hearing questions/comments from the waiter. His children thought he was ignoring them when, in fact, he simply couldn’t hear them. At work he would say “yes” to his boss’s request, even though he didn’t know what was being asked of him. When COVID-19 came along, he could no longer read lips because everyone was wearing masks.
He tried hearing aids but after one week took them out. He told Blaise he was just not ready. He was primarily worried about his image. At 55 he believed he “shouldn’t be in this situation.” He felt there was a stigma attached to wearing hearing aids.
The Denial Process
Dr. Gregory Delfino explains that many people feel like Dave. There is a complete denial process that some people go through. They have a preconceived notion that hearing instruments are large and bulky and wearing them means they’re old. They struggle with the inability to hear and live with this silent disability. Practitioners often wonder how they can help these people.
After a visit to Audiology Services Dave finally realized exactly how poor his hearing was. He moved forward with hearing technology, knowing that his improved quality of life was more important than his image. Once he began to wear the hearing instruments again, he couldn’t say enough positive things. He has a new level of confidence and enjoys life so much more.
There is a total of $1.2 billion in lost income every year due to untreated hearing loss. Dr. Delfino explains that often in the workplace an employee will be disciplined for a poor attitude when he/she simply can’t hear. Their pride stops them from telling their bosses and coworkers they have haring loss and from having a hearing screening.
Co-morbidities with Hearing Loss
Blaise explains that our sense of hearing is the gateway to our bodies. People with untreated hearing loss are at a greater risk of experiencing cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, anxiety, and depression. He recommends that anyone who thinks he/she may have hearing loss seek out a hearing healthcare professional.
Dr. Delfino adds that teaming up with a well-trained professional is essential, since that person can walk the patient through every step of the process to better hearing. Having trust in your provider is also important because he/she will help you make important decisions at the start of your hearing journey and as time goes on.
A Willing Reference
Dave Smith says that he is always available as a reference to people who are on the fence about getting hearing instruments. He knows just how important it is to&
You're tuned in to the hearing matters podcast with Dr. Gregory Delfino, and Blaise Delfino of Audiology sServices and Fader Plugs, the show that discusses hearing technology, best practices and a growing national epidemic: hearing loss. Today we have special guest, Mr. David Smith joining us, and ladies and gentlemen, I have known Dave Smith pretty much my entire life since I was three years old. My father has, of course known Dave Smith and his family know over 20 years as well. Yeah, so we've known the family for a long time, Dave, it is so awesome to have you on the show.Dr. Gregory Delfino:
Welcome Dave, welcome.David Smith:
Great to be here.Blaise Delfino:
We're gonna have a lot of fun.David Smith:
I agree.Blaise Delfino:
This is so awesome. So Dave, your wonderful wife, Sue Smith, she owns the art of dance studio here in Nazareth. You are of course deep rooted in Nazareth, children went to Nazareth school district, and you are a current hearing aid user.David Smith:
Yes, I am.Blaise Delfino:
Dave, share with us the tipping point with regard to when you said to yourself enough is enough, I need to do something about my hearing loss.David Smith:
Well, you know what, Blaise, I really thought enough is enough when I keep asking people to just continually repeat themselves over and over again. I mean, throughout the day, if it's not my peers at work, it's my wife, it could be my kids, and I think that's when you start to realize when they're getting frustrated with you that something's not right. It also could be just missing out on jokes. I mean, I've watched movies and shows and comedy shows. And I would actually ask my wife after they started laughing, what did they say? And I ruined the joke now, because I'm asking my wife to repeat the joke that now isn't funny anymore. I kind of realized that, you know, again, here it is, enough's enough, where I'm now taking other people, and they're being affected by my non ability to hear if that makes sense.Blaise Delfino:
Dave, you have a very unique journey because before we fit you with the hearing instruments that you wear now, you actually tried hearing aids before. And you told me you took the instruments out for a week and you said, you know what Blaise, I'm just not ready for hearing technology. And it's really important for any hearing healthcare professional listening to this right now, when your patients aren't ready, you need to listen to them, because this is a process. And Dave, you just weren't ready for hearing instruments. What was it that kind of made you say, I'm just not ready right now?David Smith:
I want to say it's image at the age of 55. When we first started this process, I really feel that at 55 I shouldn't be in a situation. I didn't really want to see it. I didn't want to really react to it and then you prove me wrong. I came in I had the booth you put me in there, I started to realize how poor my hearing really was. So my image had to go to the backside, and I had to start to realize that quality of life was really the better choice here, and I needed to just go ahead and move forward. The stigmatism of being 55 and not being able to hear has to outweigh I mean, the quality of life I needed to make this change.Blaise Delfino:
And we will say Dave, you're not alone because many patients are experiencing the same thing. Dr. Delfino, you've been in the industry for well over 30 years. What have you seen with regard to what Mr. Smith was just saying in terms of the vanity aspect associated with hearing aids?Dr. Gregory Delfino:
It really has to do with part of the whole denial process and denial for a number of reasons, but certainly vanity being one of them. People's preconceived notions off times about hearing aids are that they're large, they're bulky, they mean, you're getting old, and no one really wants to admit that. And so they will struggle with the inability to hear and understand speech for the main purpose of I look good. No one knows it's a silent disability, and that's really what we're working with. And each patient that comes in, that's part of that process of finding out what are some of the motivations and what can we do to reduce some of your fears or concerns about moving forward with amplification?Blaise Delfino:
Dave, like we said earlier, we've known your family for over 20 years. And I have to say, I'm definitely very honored and just blessed to treat you as a patient as a friend. It is really the coolest thing and your wife owns Art of Dance Studio here in Nazareth, which is where ironically, my sister Veronica danced at, and my now wife Autumn, how crazy is that? Right?David Smith:
That's full circle. Absolutely.Blaise Delfino:
That's razy.David Smith:
I don't think that that changed anything about why I came here. I will say that you've made this process what it is you're so professional, your customer service, I mean Autumn just helping me with my insurance issues that I wanted to make sure were worked out prior to jumping in. But then knowing you on top of that was what just put the icing on the cake. I mean, just so comfortable, and I think comfortable is a big thing about being able to move forward, just everything I needed, you guys, were right there, if it was a call Autumn took the phone call, she was right on, if I needed to call you, you were right back to me with whatever. And you know, obviously knowing your dad and your mom as well, I mean, it was an easy choice for me to makeBlaise Delfino:
Good and you were motivated, and you were ready, which is one of the many reasons why you're so successful with your hearing aids, Dave, I'll never forget getting that text message from you a couple months ago, "Hey, Blaise, just checking in hope you in the family are doing well. Just wanted to let you know, I love my hearing aids". It's absolutely that those are the stories I love to hear,David Smith:
Blaise, I gotta tell you, I think of you guys every day, every day I put them in, I'm thinking of you guys. And I'm very thankful for everything you guys did for me to get me to move forward and to be able to have that quality because now as silly as it sounds, I'm not getting those one liners from the wife about I told you that already. You didn't hear me? You know or the kids. I mean, I have five boys and you know, sometimes they would think that I might have ignored them or I wasn't paying attention to him. It's because I didn't hear them. And I know that whole term of selective hearing that you and I had talked about. You know, while I was going through the process,Blaise Delfino:
Yep. and actually going through the figuring out of where I was in this with the hearing loss, the wife would always think that I was actually being selective about what I wanted to hear and didn't hear. And it really became a pitch. Instead of her saying something. I just don't pick up certain levels, and you were the one that made me realize that. So once I was able to respond to my wife and tell her I'm going to fix this and what you did that made it all better, and made it go away, so I appreciate that. And you're doing incredibly well on your new hearing journey. And Dave, being that you've been around the studio, you are around and work in noisy environments. We're curious to know how did your decrease in hearing sensitivity, how did your hearing loss affect interpersonal relationships, work life, things of that nature? And were there times you grew frustrated, because what was said at work meetings or family gatherings were missed?Unknown:
Yes, absolutely. The professional side of it. For me, I'm an operations manager. And it was very tough for me, my boss is very soft spoken. At that time, I was depending on reading lips, and we had the pandemic, so now you have the masks on. So now I've lost that ability to be able to read somebody's lips. So my boss being soft spoken and having the mask, I might have suggested things that I really didn't know what he was asking me just to end the conversation, you know, with my kids again, thinking that I might have ignored them or something. And so that's the personal side of it. I can't go on and on enough about having the hearing aids now and what it's done for me and I don't have any of those issues anymore, they're gone.Blaise Delfino:
Good. Dave, to dovetail off what you just said. And and this is really important to note and I want Dr Delfino to expand on this there are $1.2 billion US dollars of lost income due to untreated hearing loss. And that makes sense because if you are unable to understand speech, clearly, if a manager says something for you to do or you know what have you, Hey, can you go pick up this package? Or hey, can you go and reschedule this meeting and you misunderstand, well, communication in the workplace is really important. So very important. Dr. Delfino, what is your thought process with regard to the lost earnings?Dr. Gregory Delfino:
You know, one of the obvious things is that when you're having a conversation, employer employee, if you're not hearing and understanding what's being said, then that may be misconstrued as a poor attitude, I don't care. And it really takes a topic to another area of concern where discipline might be involved when in fact, it truly is an organic hearing loss and off times because of our pride. And because of our lack of awareness to get our hearing tested on a regular basis. Any questions just because you're getting your hearing tested does not necessarily mean that you need some intervention, but it's certainly going to give you some peace of mind that the direction I'm moving, I may need some help at some point in time. But rather than guess, rather than having a misinterpretation of an attitude, having your hearing screened, and tested, is one way in which you can prepare yourself mentally for what may or may not happen. Employers are concerned certainly about how well you're responding to them, and if you are misinterpreting what they're saying, it opens up a whole nother can of worms and it doesn't have to be that way.Blaise Delfino:
Dave, share with us what life was like when you decided to take that step towards a better hearing?Unknown:
Well, I gotta tell you, I was nervous. Excited on one side and then nervous, I mean, the understanding of how poor my hearing was 30% in one year 70% the other It was really eye opening to me how bad and how poor my hearing was. The experience of you actually getting me into the booth and the pitches and the tones and figuring out where I was and showing me on the screen. You know where my lines were and actually explaining to me, this is where you're losing your hearing and you're not picking this up really is eye opening to make you make that decision to say, I can't keep doing this. So I would say that just from the booth going into it, and you sitting down explaining to me, showing me the graph, showing me my hearing. And then you were able to go back to my previous time that I was in and show me how much I've lost since that time. So you compared both, I was able to see them up on a graph and actually see that this was not going in a great direction. As I was getting older, I needed to be able to hear I want to hear my grandkids, I want to be able to hear well, my wife's telling me, I want to hear what my kids are saying. So this had to be fixed. And again, that's why I say I went right to it, and I said this, is it enough's enough, let's do this.Blaise Delfino:
Dave, prior to the show you were talking about when you and Sue would be out maybe at Wegmans or ordering dinner out. Before wearing hearing aids, you kind of felt lost in the dark, share with us that experience.David Smith:
I think I needed to rely on my wife for a lot of things, you know, 32 years being married, God bless her. It comes, it comes down to her, you know, I get the question of how did you want your steak cooked. And I might not have heard them actually say that. I might have had my head down, I wasn't looking at the waiter or waitress. And at that point, that's when my wife would always jump in and respond for me the same thing when she wasn't there. I'd be nervous at times where I would give an order. If I were at a coffee shop or our at a grocery store at the end when you're ready to pay. And there's maybe a question or two for something. I was always worried that if I couldn't hear what they were saying, then I wouldn't know how to respond. And when I would then say pardon me? Or Excuse me, can you say that again? You can see frustration from the other side of where people start to say, how many times do I have to tell you what I'm telling you, I don't want to then go out and say I know I'm young. I'm looking young, but I can't hear you. I don't understand what you're saying. So I would think that that's again, that's the enough enough thing and just how to move forward.Dr. Gregory Delfino:
So did Sue always make the correct assumption and with regard to your preference on meat being served?David Smith:
Absolutely. However, she told me and that's exactly how I got it.Blaise Delfino:
Well, I mean, Dave, there are 1000s of other individuals out there who currently do present with untreated hearing loss, and they haven't done anything about it. And that is why we do this podcast to raise awareness of the importance of treating hearing loss. And individuals who do present with hearing loss will often have the fear of responding incorrectly. Right? And when you talk about ordering coffee, that is a stressful environment, because chances are you're going in the morning and it's crowded,David Smith:
I was just gonna say there are people around you. So now you have that fear, like you said of making a mistake or saying something that's incorrect. And then you look a certain way, so yeah, absolutely.Blaise Delfino:
Would you say that the hearing instruments have instilled in you an increased level of confidence?David Smith:
Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm not looking around for anyone to give me the answer now. I'm making the answer. I'm going to answer the question to what they're asking. Absolutely.Blaise Delfino:
Dave, when we first fit you with the hearing instruments, and we talked about the different co-morbidities linked to untreated hearing loss, that being cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, increased risk of falling, and we share that with our patients, not to scare them, but to let them know that, you know, the sense of hearing is really the gateway to our entire body, how our body is all connected. And you could have said, nah, I'll keep pushing it off, but you didn't because you thought to yourself, this is my health, you still go to the gym, you work out and what you did, and we commend all of our patients who move forward with the technology, you know, age doesn't matter, right? Because hearing loss does not discriminate, but you took that important first step, you're very active. And you said I want to hear life's story.David Smith:
Absolutely. Absolutely. And at any point, I would love to be a reference for any of your people that are questioning if they should do this or not. I'd be the first one, please call me because I want them to know exactly what it is and how it is that they can go through something so simple that making the decision might be tough, but once you make that decision, everything goes so smooth, and it's a change of life. It really is a change of life.Blaise Delfino:
Dr. Delfino to echo what Dave was saying, how important is it to have trusted providers and trusted information, because not everything on the internet is true. That's why we have this podcast, because you hear about all this, this hearing instrument and that hearing instrument. How important is it to team up with a trusted team of providers and references, maybe even current hearing aid users?Dr. Gregory Delfino:
Trust in any of the healthcare professions is absolutely essential because this is such a personal issue. Any part of your health is a personal issue. You want to know that the professional that you're talking to is well trained, knows what they're talking about, has had the experience and they are able to walk you through the process to the extent where you feel comfortable with whatever decision you make, because you know it's made in concert with someone who has given you all information that you need, has answered all of your questions, has demonstrated that they will be there with you throughout the process. Those are absolutely essential in any healthcare provider. But certainly in hearing healthcare where the personal touch is even more invaluable, because this is not a once and done process. We see our patients on such a regular basis, because things come up, changes need to be made, and you need to feel comfortable to give us a call, have a discussion, workout any of the concerns that you have. So trust is absolutely essential.David Smith:
Dave, what would you tell individuals who are currently on the fence with regard to moving forward with hearing technology?David Smith:
I would say please, if you want to use me as a reference, call me because I could give you all the information you want, as well as what you guys have here. Your customer service, as I said before, the insurance working through the insurance part of it. Those are things that you might not know about, and it's something that they should check into within their employer. And when I did it with my employer, I was amazed that what the insurance covered so it made even the decision that much easier.Blaise Delfino:
You're tuned into the Hearing Matters Podcast with Dr. Gregory Delfino, and Blaise Delfino of Audiology Services and Fader Plugs. Today we had David Smith, a Nazareth native, join us on the show and talk about his incredible experience with his hearing technology. David, thank you so much for coming on the show today.David Smith:
We really appreciate it. Until next time hear life's story.