Maricopa Hearing Center out to educate the public - East Valley Tribune: Health

Maricopa Hearing Center out to educate the public

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Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2007 12:46 pm | Updated: 6:48 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

When men come in and are able to hear their wives’ voices for the first time in years, their eyes start to well up with tears.

Then owners Tammy Redel and Terri Ellert start crying, too.

Emotional moments abound at the Maricopa Hearing Center, which just opened Aug. 1 at 21300 N. John Wayne Parkway. The center sells hearing devices, but doesn’t want to be thought of as a hearing aid retail store.

“Our office is not here just for the elderly,” Redel said, “it’s for our community and surrounding communities to get their checkups.”

The hearing center has been active in several Maricopa events, such as Founder’s Day, the Salsa Festival and activities at the chamber.

“We’re trying to get out there at the different events with information to make the community aware of hearing health,” Redel said.

Their main message is to be proactive with checkups, because the loss is so gradual, one might not even realize it’s happening.

Hearing loss is occurring at younger and younger ages lately, as well. About 60 percent of people aged 40 to 50 are walking around with a hearing loss. Most of it is a mild form, Ellert said.

The higher frequencies are usually the first to go, but a medical condition can also cause a loss in other frequencies. Viral infections, not only ear infections, but sinus infections can affect your hearing.

“It’s all connected,” Ellert said, pointing to her head, “it’s a small space in here.”

In October, the center will begin showcasing a hearing device which Redel and Ellert like to call, “a Bluetooth on steroids.”

The lightweight and discreet earpiece fits behind the ear, and transmits from the Streamer, which is roughly the size of an iPod and is worn around the neck. An iPod or music player can connect directly to the Streamer, and the user can listen to music through the earpiece, which acts as a headphone.

If a call is made to the user’s Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, a button on the Streamer will allow the user to answer the phone and talk hands-free.

“Bluetooth is going to open up a whole world for other people,” Redel said, “from watching TV to listening to a laptop, MP3 players and the phone, it’s connected with so many things.”

Redel said users can also get home phones that are Bluetooth-enabled as well, so an elderly person who might have difficulty getting to the phone in time will just have to press a button to answer it.

The earpiece also senses the environment, Ellert said. It begins to pick up on a user’s habits and has learning volume control, so when it turns on, it will set to the user’s preferred volume automatically.

The center is a family business; Redel is Ellert’s niece, Redel’s mother (and Ellert’s sister) Denise also works as the chief financial officer and other family members are in training.

“It’s a very rewarding field if you want to feel good about what you’re doing,” Ellert said. “You love going to work. You make people happy and feel good about what you’re doing and make a living at it.”

She added most people don’t realize how important hearing is.

“Helen Keller once made a statement that of all her senses, she wishes she had her hearing,” Ellert said. “Her eyes connect her with things, but her ears connect her with people.”

For more information, call the center at (520) 494-2242.

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