New Ipswich resident has new lease on life with new hearing aids.

  • Richard Beaudoin of New Ipswich recently received new state of the art hearing aids from the Beltone Hearing Care Foundation. Now, simple things like going to grab a coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts are more enjoyable thanks to his new ability to hear. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin

  • Richard Beaudoin of New Ipswich recently received new state of the art hearing aids from the Beltone Hearing Care Foundation, which donates hearing instruments to those in need of hearing help who may otherwise be unable to access it. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Richard Beaudoin of New Ipswich recently was fitted with new pair of hearing aids by Holly Ballard at D.L.H. Hearing Solutions in Leo minster, Mass. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, December 04, 2018 10:57AM

It’s the little things that Richard Beaudoin notices these days. The keys on a cash register, cars in traffic and the flick of a light switch.

Because for years, the 75-year-old New Ipswich resident simply couldn’t hear – at least not very well. Almost three decades of working in a car parts factory running a power steering tester will do that. But thanks to a grant through the Beltone Hearing Care Foundation, Beaudoin can hear the best he has in a very long time.

He avoided conversations because he had so much trouble hearing what people were saying. He admits that he missed out on a lot and kept to himself, but that’s something he’s trying to make up for now with his new hearing aids.

“I didn’t really talk to many people because I couldn’t hear them,” he said. “You box yourself in. You hate doing it because you like the people, but you just can’t hear them.”

The foundation donates hearing instruments to those in need of hearing help who may otherwise be unable to access it. It was a visit to D.L.H. Hearing Solutions in Leominster, Mass., part of a network of offices associated with Beltone New England, that set the process in motion. Beaudoin’s original reason for visiting was to get his hearing aids repaired. They were his third pair, which he got at D.L.H., about eight years ago. He had them fixed a few times already, but he couldn’t afford the hefty price tag that came with new ones.

That’s when he met Holly Ballard. She’s a hearing instrument specialist at D.L.H. and soon began to understood Beaudoin’s plight.

“His hearing loss had changed quite a bit, so repairing them would have been a waste,” Ballard said. “We talked finances and he told me he wouldn’t be able to afford (new hearing aids). But his hearing loss is very severe, and I felt so bad. I couldn’t really do anything to help him.”

She recommended applying to the foundation, and within three months she had some good news.

“It was like Christmas for both us,” Ballard said. “He was basically living in a silent world.”

In her almost two years at D.L.H., Ballard has applied for and received three grants from Beltone.

The cost of each digital hearing aid is around $4,000 and does it ever make a difference. These are the top of the line models that have processing chips in them that help differentiate between noise and speech, and automatically adjust the volume depending on the surroundings. All those little things he can hear now, made Beaudoin realize just how much he was missing.

“I hadn’t heard a lot of things for a long time,” he said.

With his previous aids, Beaudoin had about 80 percent hearing loss.

“When he’d come in, I was basically shouting at him and he was barely able to hear me,” Ballard said. Now she can talk to him in a normal voice.

His old ones had this constant buzzing and ringing that almost made things worse. He said at times it sounded like he was under water. Something as simple as walking through a parking lot was difficult because he couldn’t hear cars coming.

“You really have to be aware of what you’re doing,” Beaudoin said.

When he first got hearing aids, Beaudoin was just 44 years old and they cost $1,000 each. But neither that first pair or the following two really allowed him to enjoy the fortune of good hearing. And every time he go them repaired, it came with mixed results.

“They were never quite right,” Beaudoin said.

The new ones are just about perfect. They are molded to his ear, and he hardly notices them once they’re in. He’s had them since Halloween and so far so good, but he’s still getting used to them. Talking on the phone still remains difficult.

“It takes time where you have to fine tune and adjust them,” Ballard said. “It can take a few months until we get it right.”

But the most important thing for Beaudoin is he can hear. He no longer has to watch TV with the volume at full blast and can hear when children talk to him.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” he said. “I’m not even aware they’re in right now.”

Before he used to have to decide whether to eat or talk to someone because his aids became too uncomfortable to do both. Through it all, though – even the two strokes and triple bypass – Beaudoin has maintained his independence. He lives on his own, still works part time and drives, which is now a lot easier and safer.

“It’s a bunch of little things that you’ve got to adjust to when you can’t hear,” Beaudoin said. “But there ain’t nothing like putting these in.”

No more missing out on the little things in life – something he’s been waiting years to catch up on.

“It makes a world of difference,” he said. “It’s like being born again.”