These aren’t your dad’s hearing aids; House of Hearing is changing lives with new smart devices

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — There have been monumental changes since Chris Bain started treating his patients in St. George for hearing loss over 30 years ago.

When Bain first opened the doors to his hearing center, devices were bulky, non-adjustable and seldom worked as well as they should. Times have changed, he said, and with recent innovations in technology, hearing aids are literally changing the lives of their patients.

“People just don’t realize how excluded you are if you don’t hear,” said Bain, who owns and operates the 2019 Best of Southern Utah winner House of Hearing with his wife, Jennifer. He told St. George News that hearing loss is such an isolating thing, and it happens so gradually the individual is rarely the first to notice.

Treating hearing loss is a family tradition for Chris Bain, who started working in his family’s hearing center during his second semester of college after continued prodding from his uncle, who was the founder of NuEar, a hearing aid manufacturer. It wasn’t long before he realized he’d found his calling. Three decades later, with six locations, he and his wife can’t imagine life any other way.

“It is a very fulfilling job. You’re changing people’s lives,” he said, adding that after his first time seeing a patient cry with happiness, he knew right away this was his life’s calling. He and his employees have stayed true to their business motto of taking care of people.

“People helping people, that is what we do here,” he said. “Take care of people like you’d want to be treated.”

Get ‘smart’ about your hearing

House of Hearing’s latest smartphone-compatible device, the Circa Edge AI smart hearing aid from NuEar and its parent company, Starkey Hearing Technologies, is redefining what a hearing aid is meant to do and allowing patients to stay connected to the world like never before.

Stock image, St. George News

Among the 50 million Americans facing hearing loss, one of the biggest concerns patients have is the increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia, Bain said. Circa Edge AI lets people of all ages take a proactive approach to their overall wellness. With the hearing industry’s first use of integrated sensors and artificial intelligence, it delivers meaningful benefits beyond traditional amplification. 

Named one of Time magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2019, the new device is the world’s first hearing aid to deliver supreme sound quality, universal connectivity and the innovative ability to track body and brain health.

“Our hearing aids are so smart it’s amazing,” Jennifer Bain said. “It’s the only hearing aid with artificial intelligence, the ability to translate 27 languages, fitness tracking and the ability to make sure your brain is engaged — it’s a revolutionary product.”

At House of Hearing, they personalize the experience for each individual. These new “healthable” devices are designed to help with more than hearing – they are helping people live fuller, happier lives.

Among the many extremely useful features of the Circa Edge AI and its integrated Thrive app is that it allows the hearing aid to be adjusted to suit any listening environment – from a noisy, crowded restaurant to “adaptive car mode,” which automatically changes to a setting meant to help reduce the background noise associated with driving.

Another benefit is the ability to set up personalized custom memories inside the app and use GPS to automatically adjust the devices to areas the patient frequently visits.

“The patient can create a memory so every time you walk into that loud movie theater it automatically adjusts itself to a setting designed for maximum comfort,” Chris Bain said. 

 “Using our Reminder feature, if somebody needed to take a pill every day at 2:00 because their doctor dictates, it’s as simple as getting on your smartphone and adding the reminder,” he said. “It now comes on in your ear and says, ‘Take your pill.’”

The Thrive app is available for Apple phones and newer Android phones. With the hearing aids’ wireless connectivity, nearly everything that can be streamed can be accessed. It is great for people who struggle with hearing on a telephone, since they can get wireless calls amplified for their loss directly to their ears.

“You’re already using hearing aids, now these become your … everything!” Jennifer Bain said. 

She added that unlike other devices on the market, these are specifically designed to help users fully engage with the world around them.

Image of Circa Edge AI hearing aid and accompanying Thrive app, location and date unspecified | Image courtesy of NuEar, St. George News

Chris Bain said he uses the Circa Edge AI hearing aids himself, including for the debilitating ringing in his ears – a condition known as tinnitus.

“I have a tinnitus masker inside that I set up, and I can click to that mode and I get a blocking sensation for that ringing,” he said. “It teaches my brain to ignore the ringing so I don’t hear it.”

Additionally, utilizing a series of sensors, the device can track hours of daily use, social engagement, overall movement and activity. It will even text family members or caregivers and let them know their loved one has fallen down, he said, and if the hearing aids get lost, the app can locate them. 

Bain said he hears from patients all the time telling him how important it is to maintain their independence, and Circa Edge AI gives people the opportunity to organize and stay safer in their daily life.  

‘We love our patients’

Jennifer Bain said they welcome everyone into House of Hearing with open arms and make sure to take the time to get to know them and their needs. What sets them apart from other hearing centers is how they treat their patients. She said they spend every moment necessary to learn what their interests are, where their lives are at, what their favorite things are to do and what their particular medical conditions are. They are able to personalize each patient fitting specifically for them. 

“I truly do love my patients. I want to make sure they feel very comfortable,” she said. “I can tell you almost every patient that comes in, you know what their kids’ names are, you know their spouses, where they’ve been, where they’ve lived – just as I would want that. I’m honored to be their ‘ear lady.’”

There are some patients that don’t want to have anything to do with smartphones or the apps, and say “it’s too techy for me,” she said, adding that they don’t want to discourage those customers. No matter what your needs, at House of Hearing they can tailor a device just for you. 

She said there are several options available for hearing aids in all price ranges, and they are happy to discuss ways of financing.

“Our patients become like an extended family,” she said. “We love our patients and what we do here.”

House of Hearing, St. George, Utah, Feb. 4, 2020 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

Everybody goes through the aging process, Chris Bain said, and for those willing to try out the new technology, he believes they should take advantage of whatever is available to make life a little easier. 

Bain said our one superpower as a human is communication – being able to listen, talk and coordinate. When you give that back to a person, it’s extremely powerful, he said.

For more information about the Circa Edge AI hearing aid or any questions about what other devices they have available, call 435-256-8378.

House of Hearing has six locations across the southwest to best serve their customers. Along with their St. George location, they have hearing centers in Cedar City, Beaver, Kanab, Mesquite and Panguitch.

Written by ANDREW PINCKNEY, St. George News.

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