ROSCOE - For people who become hearing impaired, quality of life can greatly change.
"A certain isolation sets in," said Dr. Tim Conley. Conley, an audioprosthologist, not only understands hearing loss. He lives with it daily.
"I have been hard of hearing for 60 years," he said from his office at American Hearing Aid Labs, 5007 Hononegah Road, Roscoe.
Conley suffered from spinal meningitis at just 18 months old. At that time, three things could have likely happened.
"You could lose all of your sight, all of your hearing or you could die," she said.
He survived with total hearing loss in his left ear and most of it lost in the right ear.
"I was very lucky," he said.
Conley's parents sent him to a special school in Chicago to help him develop his oral communication skills during his youth. After that, he transitioned to public schools. He wears hearing aids in both ears and also reads lips.
Conley earned a bachelor's degree in business and psychology and began selling whole life insurance. Later, he took courses and earned a certificate of completion as an audioprosthologist certified by the national board of the Hearing Science Instrument. That career now spans 38 years.
"I test and fit people with hearing aids," he said of the job.
Equally important, he also counsels people experiencing hearing loss and those who live with them.
One thing that some people do is to yell at the hard-of-hearing person from one end of the house when the recipient is at the other end.
"You need to get the attention of the person first, so he or she can focus on what you are saying to them," Conley said. "Try saying their name, first, to get their attention. The more focus, the better."
Couples also need to work together on their concerns, he said, or their relationship could change.
However, a hearing aid is not an instant recipe for success, Conley added.
"It depends on how well a person understands the spoken word under amplification," he said.
Hearing aids run from about $999 to $2,500, with the more expensive ones offering more features.
"The top of line hearing aids can do a lot more to help you with noise. The core principle is to make a difference in your ability to understand what is being said," he said.