By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Northborough – After a successful 30-year career in Florida, audiologist Jack Adams has relocated his practice to Northborough. Audiology Consultants of MetroWest – the first of its kind in Northborough – opened last June, offering comprehensive diagnostic testing and hearing aids.
Adams is on the board of directors of the Mass. Academy of Audiology and was “very active” in Florida as well.
“I was on the first state licensing board of audiology in Florida in 1990,” he explained.
The reason for his move north, Adams said, was a simple one – he is engaged to a real estate attorney who works in Northborough. In fact, the two now share an office on Main Street.
After growing up outside of Chicago, Adams attended Tulane University in New Orleans as a math major. He took a course in speech pathology, followed by a course in audiology.
“I bonded with my professor,” he said, “and she became my mentor.”
He had found his calling.
“I love what I do,” he said. “Helping people hear better is very gratifying. The problem is usually easily solved.”
Adams said that working with patients in Massachusetts is very different than in Florida.
“It’s interesting here in Massachusetts,” he said. “In Florida, my patients, who are mostly elderly, act independently. They are retired with no family nearby. Here, the elderly are usually accompanied by adult children. It’s a very different marketplace. It’s a positive thing to have a support system.”
At Audiology Consultants of MetroWest, Adams provides testing to determine the type and degree of hearing loss and offers all makes, models and styles of hearing aids.
According to Adams, during his career, there have been three milestones in the technological development of hearing aids. Twenty years ago digital hearing aids were first developed, and 10 years ago, hearing aids developed with a speaker in a person’s ear, eliminating the need for molds and tubing. In 2016, the newest technology has helped eliminate the problem of background noise, which had been the biggest complaint among patients.
The technology was developed by Oticon, a Danish company that has “done nothing but make hearing aids for 114 years,” according to Adams. “They are always on the cutting edge of advances in technology.”
The newest hearing aid from Oticon is the Oticon Opn.
“It is really impressive,” he said. “It allows patients to hear and understand in all environments.” It is also Bluetooth compatible.
There has been research conducted on the relationship between hearing and cognitive functioning.
“The brain needs sound, and if it doesn’t get it through normal auditory pathways, it goes looking for it,” Adams explained. “It looks to other parts of the brain to make up for it, taking up space in the brain that should be used for something else.”
A 2011 study by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to dementia. According to Adams, being able to hear normally leads to better memory and cognitive functioning than those with untreated hearing loss.
Another benefit of using hearing aids is being able to enjoy life with less effort.
“Patients say the most debilitating thing is having to work at listening,” Adams revealed. “The new technology requires patients to use less effort in listening than older types of technology. They tell me they don’t feel so tired at end of the day [after using it].”
He recommends a baseline hearing test by age 50 to better gauge hearing loss as the patient ages, then every three years after that.
“It’s called ‘the invisible handicap’ because you can’t see it,” Adams said. “It’s like looking in the mirror. You don’t notice the gradual changes over time in how we look. Just as with hearing loss, we don’t know how much we are missing.”
“It’s better to be tested early,” he added, “before forming bad habits. If you wait too long, it’s harder to get out of the quiet world. It takes the brain a while to adapt to hearing normally again.”
Audiology Consultants of MetroWest is located at 130 Main St. For more information or an appointment, call 508-466-8644 or 508-726-9439, or visit www.audiologyconsultantsmass.com.