Word spread quickly. There were signs in the elevators and flyers at lunch. Residents reminded each other: A doctor of audiology will be available for two hours on Friday in the Sycamore Room.
The people at Luther Manor Terrace, a 29-acre independent senior living community at 92nd and Hampton were abuzz about the new outreach program designed by staff at HEAR Wisconsin. On the first Friday of every month, from 9 to 11am, an audiologist and assistant set up equipment and supplies and offer a variety of basic hearing services, free of charge, with a smile. The pilot program’s goal is to help eliminate barriers to good communication for the young-at-heart.
If a resident needs more extensive testing or products, HEAR Wisconsin can help. “We are excited to offer audiology services to the community as part of our mission to help improve communication and quality of life for the growing older population,” said HEAR Wisconsin’s President and CEO Jill Van Calster.
“And, anyone who needs more in-depth assessment and/or assistive technology can come to our newly renovated hearing healthcare clinic in West Allis.”
The Audiologist (and Assistant) Are In
On a recent Friday, nearly a dozen men and women came through – some came for wax removal, some for hearing aid adjustments and cleaning, all interested in maximizing their hearing quality. HEAR Wisconsin staff, Dr. Brooke Lewandowski, a fulltime audiologist and Brianna Agee, audiology assistant, greeted patients.
The doctor spent time listening to concerns and conducting cleanings/wax removal. It is a job she loves. “HEAR Wisconsin has so much to offer to the community (audiology, our assistive technology store, interpreting services, Birth to Three program),” Dr. Lewandowski said. “So many people don’t know about us and what we can do to help them improve their quality of life.”
Properly working hearing aids are crucial, and the residents kept audiology assistant Brianna Agee busy. “I change wax guards, ear hooks, tubing, and/or domes,” Agee said. “I might sanitize earmolds, vacuum the microphone ports, battery doors and check volume to be sure microphones and/or receivers are in working order.”
The doctor and assistant make an effective team, quickly assessing and addressing needs. And, Luther Manor residents raved about the service.
“This is nice,” said. Rosie Yaksh, 88. After a short talk with Dr. Brooke, she said she is considering hearing aids. “Now I know a little more than I did before.” Yaksh said her family has been hounding her for years about her hearing. Social situations with a lot of background noise provide the biggest challenge. Yaksh was advised to come to the HEAR Wisconsin office for a comprehensive audiology test.
Ron Wells, 89, was happy to see the staff from HEAR Wisconsin. Wells, a retired pediatrician, sees Dr. Brooke as his regular audiologist. “We are delighted they are here,” Wells said. “And, with the weather, it is so convenient to be right here in the building!”
Edgar Burhop, 83, came down with his wife, Mary, 82. Mr. Burhop has trouble hearing the TV. He scheduled an appointment with Dr. Brooke to check both his and his wife’s ears. Mary has Alzheimer’s disease. “It’s good to find out about this,” Burhop said. “In order to make a decision, you need information.”
Making Hearing Health Priority One
HEAR Wisconsin works to eliminate communication and language barriers for all in Southeastern Wisconsin. Expanding the new outreach service to other assisted living facilities is under consideration.
“We are proud to serve our community in the most meaningful ways possible,” Van Calster said. “Meeting seniors where they live makes sense.” Audiology Assistant Brianna Agee works on a hearing aid during the outreach clinic.