Justin Osmond, the son of Osmonds lead singer and bassist, Merrill Osmond, was born with a severe-to-profound hearing loss and has been wearing hearing aids since he was 2 years old. Now, at age 44, he’s agreed to share his personal experience with hearing loss and hearing aids in a series of autobiographical blog posts written exclusively for Starkey Hearing Technologies.
Having worn hearing aids for the last 42 years, I know first-hand what it’s like to wear a variety of different models and types. I was born in the analog technology era and, for the longest time, my brain was wired to recognize the analog sound as the “normal” for everyday sounds. When I would upgrade to another or newer analog device, the technology would be slightly different and it would take time for my brain to get accustomed to the new sounds.
I learned pretty quickly that we all hear with our brain and not necessarily our ears. Our ears are just an open channel for the sound waves to come through — but then those sounds are encoded, decoded and interpreted by our intellect.
Over the years, I would get used to and content with a particular pair of hearing aids. But then — because they’re old, out-of-date or because my dog ate them for lunch — I’d switch or upgrade to a new set of hearing devices. Each time, I felt like I had to start from ground zero despite being a very experienced hearing aid user.
At that precise moment, I could become bitter because I had to learn to adapt to a whole new different technology, or I could be grateful that we even have technology available to help us hear anything at all. I always choose the latter and owned up to it. I learned that it always led me down a more productive and happy life.
Having said that, I had three major struggles and challenges over the years with older hearing aids — all issues that I no longer have with my Starkey Livio Edge AI hearing aids.
Because of my severe-to-profound hearing loss, I kept wanting more power from my hearing aids so I could hear/understand better. This earned me the reputation as a ‘Power Junkie’. The more power I wanted/needed, the more feedback I got and it was frustrating for my hearing professional, myself and my family.
There was no ‘Feedback Cancellation’ back in my younger years, so this was a constant battle for me. I was hoping and praying that someday, some manufacturer or software company would be able to invent a product that would cancel out all the feedback so it wouldn’t be so annoying at school, work and at home with family and friends.
I was very athletic during my younger years. I played high school soccer, basketball, track and football. I loved to hike, play outside extracurricular activities, and do anything that would require a good physical workout. But with all my hard work and physical exertion, I would easily break out in a sweat, and as a result my hearing aids would absorb too much moisture and break down and stop functioning properly. This happened on a regular basis, and was so frustrating for me, my family, friends, teammates and coaches.
Hearing but not understanding
During most of my younger years, I felt isolated, lonely and disconnected from family, friends and everyone around me. The reason was not a lack of being able to hear. It was a lack of being able to understand and be understood.
Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely wonderful for my hearing aids to amplify sound, but what good is it if I can’t ‘understand’ what’s being said and ‘connect’ to life?
As I look back over 44 years, I’ve learned that we were still in the preliminary stages of innovation, training, learning and technology breakthroughs. Little did we know then what was soon coming our way to bridge the gap in creating understanding, connecting our family and loved ones, and finally heal our broken ears so we can reconnect with life.
Kristi and Justin Osmond with 5-year-old Daniella, who received hearing aids thanks to the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund, named for his late grandmother. Previously, he was active for more than a decade with the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
Livio Edge AI changed everything
Today with my new Livio Edge AI hearing aids, these painful struggles are no longer an issue. It’s like a huge weight has come off my shoulders and I’m able to enjoy life so much more! This new innovative technology, feedback cancellation, water resistance, nano science, artificial intelligence and so much more has finally put an end to all these hiccups, headaches and hurdles that I and so many others have had to tackle over the years.
A BIG shout out to Starkey for investing in research and development, and always coming out with new innovative products, software and services so we as the deaf and hard-of-hearing community can have a better, more productive, quality of life. THANK YOU!