In Health issues on Thursday 13rd May, 2021

Susie Elelman: My hearing aids are a huge health win

May 13, 2021
Susie Elelman’s discrete behind-the-ear hearing aids from Connect Hearing mean people are surprised when she explains that she’s lived with life-long hearing loss.

Susie Elelman was overjoyed when she was fitted with her first pair of hearing aids. For the popular Australian broadcaster, being told she needed a device to treat her hearing loss was a happy end to a difficult health journey that had stretched over decades.

“At school, I always sat at the front of a classroom,” Susie, who’s now in her 60s, recalls. “I never knew why, because there was nothing wrong with my eyesight, but clearly I must’ve had some form of hearing loss even then.

“Then when I was 20 and had started working in television, my workmates would say that I didn’t need a microphone because my voice was already loud enough. Of course, the reason for that, is because you can’t hear yourself talking.

“As time went on, I found I was asking people to repeat themselves more and more, so I decided to get my hearing checked.”

That was the first of many hearing checks Susie underwent over the years, all of which found that although she had hearing loss, it wasn’t yet severe enough to warrant hearing aids.

Being present but feeling disconnected

Susie says that, meanwhile, she was painfully aware of the small but important connections with other people she was missing out on.

“When people go into a huddle to tell a secret or say something funny that they don’t want everyone to hear, and the audio level of the conversation drops, you miss out entirely on what’s being said, you’re never in on the joke or the gossip” she says.

“There are so many environments that make it almost  impossible to hear – in crowds, restaurants with loud background music playing, places where there’s no carpet on the floor so the sound keeps  bouncing around everywhere –  in the end you stop going to these places because it’s all just too hard.

“The next thing you know, you’ve isolated yourself. Even when people are around you, you can still feel isolated because you can’t hear everything they’re saying.”

It wasn’t until 2007 that an audiologist finally recommended Susie get hearing aids, which she says made a big improvement to how easily she could communicate with colleagues and loved ones.

Then, in 2017 Susie discovered Connect Hearing and the true wealth of technology available to people with hearing loss – and it was a life-changing experience.

A lifelong search ends

Her Connect Hearing audiologist was able to pinpoint for the first time the likely cause of Susie’s hearing loss – a disorder of the inner ear called Meniere’s disease – finally answering a lifelong question for the television and radio host.

“The knowledge of the audiologists and the standards of the hearing aids that you get are what make Connect Hearing different,” Susie says. “They embrace new technology all the time and it’s all about improving your hearing. That was the thing that blew me away. No one was trying to sell me anything. All they wanted to do was get the best solution to give me the best hearing.”

Now a Connect Hearing ambassador, Susie uses a range of technology to allow her to hear, including Phonak Paradise hearing aids that employ Bluetooth to send sound from, for example, her smartphone or television, direct to her hearing aids. “I can answer calls by simply tapping my ear even if the actual phone is in my handbag,” she says. “And it’s like listening to everything in stereo.”

Hearing checks have always been a breeze, Susie says.

“It’s not intrusive in any way, no one puts anything in your ear,” she explains. “You just sit in a soundproof room with a headset on, the audiologist plays a series of tones through the headset and you hit a little button that tells the audiologist if you’re hearing them. That’s it!”

Why choose Connect Hearing

Connect Hearing offers free, 15-minute hearing screenings at more than 100 hearing centres across Australia, that can be booked online or by phoning  1300 309 401.

And Susie’s experience of Connect Hearing’s focus on solutions, not selling is guaranteed by the company’s own code of conduct for its hearing professionals, as well as the fact that it only employs qualified audiologists and audiometrists.

Connect Hearing’s Managing Director Michelle Lawson, who works closely with Susie on making Australians aware of the big advances in hearing technology, explains that if hearing loss is detected during one of these free hearing screenings, the audiologist will recommend a more extensive, 60-minute hearing test and consultation.

“During this session, a clinician will present hearing aid options to best support your hearing, lifestyle and budget,” Michelle says.

When it comes to maintaining and adjusting her hearing aids, Susie says that’s easy too, thanks to Connect Hearing’s remote support services that allows you to adjust the devices via a smartphone app.

Susie’s hearing aids are top-of-the range but Connect Hearing works with the government’s Hearing Services Program that provides Age Pensioners and veterans hearing aids at no cost, and can provide hearing aids funded by Home Care Packages. It also offers a 10 per cent seniors’ discount on all hearing aids. Plus, it has a pay-as-you-hear interest-free payment option so the cost of hearing aids can be spread across repayments made over as long as three years.

“There’s a wide variety of models at different price points, depending on the wearer’s personal preferences, technological and lifestyle needs,” Michelle says. “Our clinicians are with you through the whole journey, from hearing test to working through your options, taking you through the latest technology and technical support and ongoing expert advice and care. We’re all about putting the power of health into the individual’s hands!”

Why wouldn’t you get your hearing checked?

Susie acknowledges that while she was keen to find a hearing loss solution, not everyone is as enthusiastic about addressing their deteriorating hearing.

“I often liken hearing loss to when you realise your eye sight is failing and you need to wear glasses; it generally comes on gradually.

“Hearing loss can be one of those things that make us feel like we’re ageing” Susie says. “So we often put it off and put it off, but all that achieves is we continue to live with hearing loss without getting any help. And there is plenty of help around!

“The question is – why wouldn’t you go and get your hearing checked? What’s the worst thing that can happen? That you hear better?”

Michelle notes that if not addressed, hearing loss can, in fact, have serious health implications.

“Research shows us that hearing loss can have a profound impact on a person’s mental health, from feelings of loneliness and isolation as a result of communication challenges, to worsening the effects of dementia,” she explains.

“This loss can also affect how the brain processes information, leading to balance issues. In extreme cases, hearing loss can impact a person’s independence, requiring specialised education to help them adapt to a life without sound or support through social services.”

Spot Susie’s hearing aid

To people who are put off by memories of old-fashioned chunky, pink hearing aids, Susie points out that the same advances in technology that have made incredible improvements to the devices’ functionality has also changed the way hearing aids look. She’s worn an invisible hearing aid called the Lyric, which sits inside the ear, before but now uses the latest behind-the-ear device.

“People are amazed when I talk about having hearing loss or wearing hearing aids,” she says. “Even with my hair as short as it is, no one seems to notice. And they’re moulded to your own ear so they fit you perfectly and don’t fall out.”

Connect Hearing ambassador Susie Elelman wears a discrete behind-the-ear hearing aid called the Phonak Audeo Paradise, which is at the cutting edge of hearing technology.

“I look at younger people today who have these big, white, ridiculous-looking things sticking out of their ears while they’re on the phone and I think, I can do that and my device is pretty much invisible!” the popular presenter jokes,” she jokes. “That’s  what I love about the technology of the 21st century. If you think about what we’ve achieved with smartphones and smart TV – well, hearing aids have advanced just as quickly too and they can do many of the same things as those smart devices!”

That technology is truly life-changing for many of Connect Hearing’s clients, Michelle says, just as it was for Susie.

“The technology and design isn’t what it used to be, gone are the days of clunky hearing aids like our grandparents had,” she says. “We constantly have clients tell us that addressing their hearing loss has helped them reconnect with the people that matter most to them.

“So my advice to those who may be struggling to hear is to get your hearing tested. If you’re asking those around you to repeat themselves all the time, or you notice a family member or loved one is having trouble hearing you, or they have the TV volume up far too loud, encourage them to get tested. It could change their life for the better.”

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

The hearing care experts

Connect Hearing is a national network of hearing centres across Australia. Our network includes the very best hearing care professionals and hearing centres in Australia by focusing on customised care, technical superiority, service excellence and trust.

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