Business helps people hear better
By Mike Mathes
Hearing instrument specialist and co-owner of Beltone Advanced Hearing Care Steve Klapperich is shown pogramming a hearing aid and preparing it for delivery.

Hearing loss has a direct impact on the quality of one’s life.

More than 30 million people in the U. S. are affected by degraded hearing. The problem comes on so gradually that most people living with hearing loss don’t realize they have it.

Instead of allowing hearing loss to govern one’s life, people are able to overcome their difficulties through appropriate diagnosis and assistance.

At Advanced Hearing Care, Beltone hearing instrument specialists Debrah and Steve Klapperich offer the most advanced technology to assist those with hearing challenges. Their most important service starts with an offer of a free hearing screening. “It’s important for people to get a baseline hearing evaluation, so that we can determine where they are on the hearing spectrum,” Steve Klapperich said.

“We always do this as a complimentary service because it’s such an important step in determining a patient’s needs.”

As part of the free screening, the Klapperichs identify potential sources of hearing loss that might be physical or medical related. Patients are referred to doctors for treatment of wax buildups or other ear canal/eardrum issues.

Audiogram charts are produced to show how a person’s hearing is functioning in various sound frequencies.

“As we are exposed to different environmental noises throughout our lives, it has a cumulative negative affect on how we hear at high frequencies,” Klapperich said. People may think they hear fine, but how they hear high and low frequencies may be greatly impaired.

Often, it takes the advice of a spouse, family member or other around us to let us know that we have some of those common symptoms of hearing loss.

“When a person is screened for hearing health, they often hear sounds they haven’t heard for a long time,” Klapperich said.

“Many are surprised at what they are not hearing.”

Klapperich said that the social and interpersonal aspects of an individual’s life are most affected by hearing loss. “It has an impact on a person’s family and those who are closest to them,” he said.

Steps for a good fit

When a patient is diagnosed as a potential candidate for a Beltone hearing aid, three important steps are utilized to meet those needs.

First, through a complete evaluation, the correct audiometric requirements are determined. Beltone uses an interactive process with sounds that simulate real life and relies on input from the listener as part of the evaluation experience.

Second, with the assistance of a hearing specialist, the appropriate device is selected. Patients have choices ranging from tiny in-ear devices to on-ear hearing aids. Physical appearance, dexterity and operation of the instrument all play a determining factor in this selection, Klapperich said.

Third, a patient’s budget is also considered. Beltone offers a complete line of hearing aids from $695 on up, depending on a person’s budget choices. While in most cases hearing aids are funded on a private pay basis, some insurance companies provide hearing aid assistance. In addition, AARP also offers some programs with special benefits.

Hearing devices

Today’s hearing aids are literally driven by micro-computer chips that make millions of decisions every second. “Today’s devices act like different hearing aids in different environments we find ourselves in. They compensate differently for each setting, whether it’s a quiet atmosphere or one with a lot of background noise,” Klapperich said.

Beltone Electronics received the prestigious International CES Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Award for the Beltone True™. The new generation of virtually invisible Bluetooth hearing aids is among the first to wirelessly receive sound directly from TV, cell/ home phone, stereo, PC and iPod via a 2.4 GHz signal.

Attention for a lifetime

One of the Beltone advantages is what the company calls “attention that lasts a lifetime.” From the initial screening to hearing aid fitting, follow up service, maintenance and beyond, the BelCare commitment assures patients with a lifetime of attention at any one of its 1,400 hearing care centers nationwide.

Klapperich said this is especially important to snow birds and others who travel.

“Once you are a member of the Beltone family, you are a part of our whole family,” he said.

Advanced Hearing Care offers hearing screening and Beltone products and services at four locations, including their office on Brooklyn Street in Chilton. Other sites include Sheboygan, Plymouth, Manitowoc and Two Rivers.

The Chilton office opened in 2001, and offers service on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, along with other times by appointment. In fact, the Beltone specialists at Advanced Hearing Care will make special trips to the home of those who

Stephen Groessel photo

wish to be screened but can’t make the trip to their office.

Debrah has been a Beltone hearing specialist since 1988. She is a nationally board-certified hearing instrument specialist. Steve has been affiliated with Advanced Hearing Care and Beltone for the past 10 years.

In March 2011, Steve Klapperich was appointed to the State Hearing and Speech Examining Board. This past January he was elected chairperson of the board.