WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) - May is 'Better Hearing Month'. Beltone centers across the state are offering free hearing tests.
The company has also released a hearing aid that can be controlled by a smart-phone and fine-tuned remotely by hearing care professionals.
"We used to program hearing aids with screw drivers and a guess. Now we can actually fine tune it to the exact frequency of the person's hearing loss and their perception of their hearing loss," said Hearing practitioner Felicia Curtis, Beltone Hearing Center.
After the better part of decade spent asking friends and family to speak up or turn around so he could read their lips, Gary Poulin finally opted for hearing aids, which he's worn for the last six years. While his hearing improved, it wasn't to the quality he had hoped.
But six months ago in Waterville, he received a next generation pair of hearing aids called 'The Beltone Trust.'
"The difference was amazing," said Poulin.
This hearing aid connects wirelessly to a smartphone app, which allows a Beltone hearing care professional to remotely alter settings from anywhere.
"We're going to accept and install and then it's going to update his hearing aids with the new changes that I made in the computer for him. And he did that actually from Virginia," said Curtis.
Poulin traveled to Virginia recently to attend Grandparents' Day at his granchild's school. His hearing aid needed an adjustment, but what used to take a trip back to the practitioner's office can now be done in minutes from a computer.
"After the person that's wearing the hearing aid has worn it for several hours, the hearing aid starts to learn who that person is, what types of sound environments they're in on a regular basis. So, if they're in the quiet and they walk into a noisy location, the hearing aid's immediately going to recognize that's not how the person normally hears, and it's going to turn down the noise for them," said Curtis.
"If I'm in a restaurant, all I have to do is go to my app and press restaurant and things just quiet right down. There's no background noise, so I can actually carry on a conversation with people," said Poulin.
Rather than trying to describe hearing issues, this state-of-the-art technology gives users the freedom to share feedback immediately with their practitioner while having control of their hearing aids at their fingertips.
"There's free hearing tests, you can find out exactly what you need and I find that there's no pressure at Beltone. You know, they're here to help you improve your quality of life through hearing," said Poulin.
To schedule a free hearing screening appointment at any one of Beltone's eleven centers across the state, go to https://www.beltone.com/.