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Finding the perfect fit

One couple continues work in the music industry because of technology, patient care offered by local

Posted: February 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Patients Joan, left, and Dale Sheets look at hearing aid models with Dr. Patrice Rifkind, right, at Audiology Associates in Valencia.

Dale and Joan Sheets have been married for 46 years. Together, they have built and maintained a local music business in Valencia for 45 years.

So when Dale began to hear mumbles and dull tones instead of the crisp notes of their clients’ instruments, they didn’t hesitate to find Dr. Patrice Rifkind, an audiologist and the owner of Audiology Associates in Valencia.

“My hearing is so important for what I do,” Dale said. “It’s vital that I hear and understand every word because it could mean the difference between a good or bad discussion with a client.”

Rifkind fitted Dale with his first pair of hearing aids in 2005. Since then, he has come back for upgrades over the years, and he is now on his third pair.

“Dale got his first pair of hearing aids after he started figuring out he wasn’t catching everything,” his wife said. “He just couldn’t hear the soft dialogue.”

Supporting Dale through his first fitting, Joan soon followed with her own.

“We do everything together,” she said with a laugh.

Longtime local residents, the couple has been with Rifkind for nine years.

“Choosing your hearing aid is so critical,” Rifkind said. “There are so many different causes of hearing loss. I identify why there is hearing loss and what will best restore the hearing.”

Perfect fit
While there are many factors to consider when choosing, fitting and adjusting the perfect hearing aid, the Sheets cared for comfort, design and technology.

Newer models are more comfortable, discreet and personalized, they said.

In their business, the Sheets represent singers and musicians.

“We’re in the music world. We need to hear the nuances to the tonal qualities in instruments,” Joan said. “We love what we do.”

Because technology has changed so rapidly in the hearing aid industry, it’s especially important to keep up for patients such as the Sheets, Rifkind said.

“She is always aware of the latest technology,” Joan said.

Explaining his newest model is Bluetooth compatible, Dale pointed to a small black box the size of an iPhone. From the box, he can answer the phone and adjust volume.

“Everyone just thinks it’s a telephone,” Dale said. “We would not be able to do this without the technology.”

Joan pointed to the hearing aid beneath her short haircut.

“And we need something hipper,” she said, throwing a hand in the air and laughing. “A lot of people think that if you’re old with hearing aids, you’re decrepit.”

Laughing heartily with her nearly invisible aid, Joan defied the stereotypic image of a senior.

“We couldn’t think any more highly of Patrice,” Dale said.

“(Rifkind) is attentive and follows through when something is going wrong,” Joan said. “She takes care of it all.

“She’ll be our only audiologist,” Joan said. “She has taken the time, effort and struggle to educate herself. And she has taken the time to get to know us.”


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