October 2019

Rose Hearing Healthcare Centers: The truth about hearing loss and what to do now

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Randy Rose, owner of Rose Hearing Healthcare Centers, in his Hilton Head Island location on Main Street.

You might call Randy Rose the “accidental hearing aid specialist.” But the opportunity that led him to his life’s work was more serendipitous than unplanned. After studying speech pathology and business in college, while he was working in a tinnitus research program in 1979, an early mentor spotted his potential and opened his eyes to the world of hearing aid technology. Impressed with the ability to make an immediate difference, Rose felt a calling towards the service end of the industry. Today, with over 40 years of experience, he is still driven by his desire to help people preserve or regain their quality of life by improving their hearing.

Rose moved to Hilton Head Island from a busy practice with multiple offices in California. His plan was to retire, but recognizing a local need, he soon found himself back in business. If you want to see his eyes light up, listen as Rose relays story after story of patients whose lives have been enhanced through hearing aid technology over the years. “I’ve probably saved more marriages than a marriage counselor,” he quipped.

But Rose knows that’s no joke if you have a problem hearing or understanding your partner. What breaks his heart, he said, is seeing people who wait too long—those who put off getting an exam or refuse to get help because of some objection to wearing hearing aids—some misconception they may have about aesthetics or because they think hearing aids are too expensive.

Rose points out that modern hearing devices are much smaller and more stylish than they were in the past (some invisible and many with Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to hear better through your smart phone and other electronics). He has access to products from multiple companies and can therefore offer a broad range of choices to fit your needs, your style and your pocketbook. But he is most adamant about the significance of good hearing. “If you can’t see something, you lose connection to things. But if you can’t hear, you lose connection to people,” he said. “I think hearing is one of our most important senses.”

According to Rose, studies indicate that approximately 48 million Americans have some degree of treatable hearing impairment, but only 25-30 percent of people who need help are getting it. “Part of that is because people don’t understand that by not doing something about their hearing, over a period of time they will lose their cognition, their sense of balance, their sense of direction… Hearing loss advances dementia and Alzheimer’s, and we know now that people who have hearing loss fall down three times more often than people who fix the problem.”

The hardest thing, Rose explained, is getting people to understand that the sooner they do something about their hearing, the better result they can expect and the longer they will retain their ability to understand speech. When they put it off, then the hearing aids may not be as effective. “It comes down to the fact that we hear with the brain, not with the ears. There is a plasticity around the brain, and when it doesn’t get the stimulation it needs from sound, it begins to shrink and creates a whole slew of other problems.”

A bright and airy reception area greets customers on Main Street at Rose Hearing.

Rose is a gifted practitioner who stands out because he enjoys getting to know people and listens to his customers to understand their lifestyle and goals. He has been wearing hearing aids himself for over 20 years, gaining personal insight into the hearing challenges his customers face and increasing his empathy and patience. “People don’t realize how hard it is when you don’t hear. It affects both you and the other people around you. If I don’t have my hearing aids on, it’s almost claustrophobic. You feel like you’re isolated from the world,” he said. “I see a lot of people begin to isolate themselves more and more because they’re afraid if they go someplace, they are not going to understand anyway. I think that’s where my passion comes in. I don’t want people to feel alone.”

Rose also understands the physical and emotional process. “Even when you switch from an old set to a new set, there is an adjustment period,” he explained. By demonstration, he rattled a piece of paper. “If you had a 30 percent hearing loss and I just brought you back up to normal, that may sound like sheet metal or plastic. Your brain needs to hear it again and assign meaning to the sound; then it begins to sound normal to you, and you begin to ignore it like you used to.”

Rose’s mission is to educate and get people treated, and one of his pet peeves is the deceptive marketing practices he sees in his industry. “Don’t fall for gimmicky ads from people who are trying to buy market share with full-page ads touting miracles and ‘amazing breakthroughs,’ he cautions. And if you’re holding off because of the cost, consider the real price of not taking action. “What costs a lot is when you do nothing.”

Rose will test your hearing to determine what’s missing. “In most cases, people can hear the power of sound, which is the vowel, but they can’t hear the clarity which is the consonant. So, they get fooled into thinking that if she would just speak up or he would stop talking with food in his mouth, I would understand. But that really has nothing to do with it,” he said. “We have sophisticated, computerized digital processors that allow us to adjust each and every frequency exactly where it needs to be. You will hear what you were missing before and understand speech without working so hard.”

At Rose Hearing Healthcare Centers, hearing tests are free. “They’re fast and they’re fun,” Rose said. “I don’t sell hearing aids. I teach you why you need them and then help you maintain them. I treat people the way I would want to be treated—with respect.”

If you are struggling to hear or know someone who is, please don’t delay. With the right hearing care, you can reconnect with your loved ones and join the conversation again.

Rose Hearing Healthcare is located at 1505 Main Street, Hilton Head Island (in the Main Street Village) and 55 Sheridan Park Circle, Ste. B, Bluffton. For appointments and more information, call (843) 547-5832 or visit online at www.rosehearinghealthcarecenters.com.

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