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Helping seniors fully engage in life with hearing loss

Guest blogger Jean Furuyama is founder of Waterside Senior Network at the Waterside Plaza residential complex in New York City. Jean recently learned about the Center for Hearing and Communication’s Hearing Health Day program and eagerly arranged a visit for a small group of her seniors. Here’s what Jean had to say about the experience.

By Dr. Jean Furuyama, Waterside Senior Network

Jean Furuyama, founder Waterside Senior Network

CHC guest blogger Dr. Jean Furuyama of Waterside Senior Network

I noticed that many members of my senior network had hearing difficulties like myself and wanted to find a way to make it better for all of us. Once I learned about an opportunity to visit the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC) for the day, I eagerly set this up for our members.

Our group of eight from Waterside went for our Hearing Heath Day in January, and we all came back so thankful for having had this opportunity.

The day started with a van pickup by Project Cart, a city-funded service that transported us to CHC in Lower Manhattan. We arrived a little early and had a cup of coffee together at a café downstairs before starting what would wind up as a day full of many new learning experiences and attentive hearing care for all of us.

Hearing Health Day at CHC

Seniors visit CHC for special program of hearing health care

Jean Furuyama (l) of Waterside Senior Network with Carolyn Stern (r) of CHC

Once there, we started off with a session led by a CHC social worker, Bruce Smith, who discussed the psychological and hidden issues of hearing loss, such as stigma, social isolation and communication breakdowns, which I found so enlightening. The next session was with Rebecca Piper, a speech pathologist trained in auditory therapy who demonstrated different listening exercises that can help people understand better what they are hearing. That was just fascinating how the brain can adapt.

After a lunch break, we each had our individual audiology exam, which was the most thorough exam I have ever had. They were able to identify where in the ear my problem was and explained it was due to damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. As I had suspected, I found out that I have a slight to moderate hearing loss. I also discussed my tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ear. I was encouraged to learn that there are things that can be done to lessen the distraction it causes including CHC’s Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) for severe sufferers.

The final session was with Terrence Williams, a hearing technology specialist, who introduced a myriad of hearing auxiliary devices on the market today. I can’t even begin to describe how interesting that was and how amazing the new hearing devices are compared to hearing aids just five years ago.

Our visit exceeded expectations

Everyone who attended with me found the field trip extremely worthwhile. Here are two quotes that summed up the day from two participants:

“Today exceeded my expectations. In fact, it was thorough, professional and informative. What a discovery, this wonderful facility where advice is not transactional for profit.”  

“Hearing Health Day gave me a wealth of information about how to manage and cope with hearing loss that will help me so much. It was a terrific experience.”  

All and all, I think our visit exceeded our expectations and I’m excited to see how our group leverages what we learned during our time together at CHC and live fully engaged, even with a hearing loss. Thank you, CHC, for helping us further our hearing journey through this special program.


A message from CHC

Much thanks to Dr. Furuyamais for sharing her story. If you’d like to join others in a Hearing Health Day, arrange for a group of any kind from a residential building, neighborhood, house of worship or book club, for example, or simply a group of friends looking for a unique way to spend time together on hearing health, please connect with Carolyn Stern at CHC.


Guest blogger Dr. Jean Furuyama is founder of her residence’s senior network of 75 members for whom she organizes monthly cultural activities and social get-togethers. Jean learned about CHC through a former longtime CHC psychologist, Dorene Watkins, also a resident of Waterside. Jean, a retired dentist, does legal counseling as an dental expert witness and also works as an emeritus member of the NYS Board of Dentistry on issues regarding professional discipline.

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