By: Ali Elizabeth Turner Two years ago, Athens Now did an article about a friendly and fascinating hearing center located in the Hobbs Plaza on Hwy 72 called One Love Hearing Concepts. Since that time, due to a great deal of hard work and outstanding customer care, there are now six locations in North Alabama. The hearing industry is highly competitive, and Zeke Creasy, the owner of One Love, is no stranger to competition. In fact, he thrives on it because he knows it just makes him better. Zeke graduated from East Limestone High School, and was a “determined” point guard all throughout middle school. For a while, he was a member of the ELHS basketball team. He went on to graduate from Auburn in Hotel and Restaurant Management, and additionally in Business Management. He also completed his course requirements at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School, and built up a highly successful catering business. All of those skills were successfully parlayed into a business that has not only grown quickly, but has built a reputation of “treating you like family.” Zeke told me, “I know that sounds kind of corny, but that really is how we all feel. We love our clients.” I can speak from experience that the staff thoroughly enjoys working at One Love. Even the Auburn grad and the Alabama fan work in peace together! One of the things that makes One Love work so well is that Starkey, their parent company and supplier, sets the tone when it comes to employee support, as well as serving their clients. “I have a single mom who works at one of the other locations who did not tell me until she had been working for me for three months that she was hearing impaired,” Zeke said. Starkey sent her some state of the art hearing aids at no charge, and she is able to connect with clients as a “fellow traveler.” She can say from experience that she has never heard better, and it has been life-changing for her. Speaking of “state-of-the-art,” hearing aids have even improved so much in the last two years that it almost seems like something out of a sci-fi movie. “We now have hearing aids that can read your emails to you while you are driving down the road,” Zeke said. There are also hearing aids that are connected to a GPS service that will locate them for you if you misplace them. “In probably no more than five years, there will be hearing aids that will function faster than your brain, and turn the directional microphone toward the sound before your brain does. They exist now, but they are still being perfected,” Zeke said. Hearing aids are now able to distinguish between noise and voices, and adjust how they process sound to the hearer. While all this high-tech stuff is genuinely interesting, the lion’s share of One Love’s clients are elderly; many are on fixed incomes; and they are wanting something perhaps less fancy. It is apparent that Zeke’s heart toward seniors is that of a warrior, and he is unashamedly protective of those who walk through his doors. “It’s true that there are a number of big box stores and pharmacies who are offering less expensive merchandise, but their customers get just that, merchandise. At One Love you get us, we are on this journey with you, and you are our family. We do not sell hearing aids, we sell better hearing,” he said. The concept of “journey” even shows up on the Athens staff’s business cards, which describe the various team members as “Patient Hearing Journey Specialist” on the top line, and then their specific duty description below that, such as Executive Manager of Operations, or Executive Personal Assistant. On a more whimsical and nearly humorous note, the newest millennial member of the crew is described as “Humble Hearing Angel, Sales Assistant and Social Media Guru Specialist.” The affectionate camaraderie amongst the staff is passed on to the client, and if the time ever comes when I need help with my hearing, this is where I am coming! “If you need to improve your hearing, we will find a way to make that happen,” Zeke said. One Love has in-house financing, and one woman on a fixed income designates her $40 monthly payment as her “hearing budget.” In 2017, Johns Hopkins University released a study which proved that hearing loss has a number of negative side effects one would not immediately conclude are related. Here is some of what they found: those with untreated haring loss have significantly higher incidence of depression, have a shorter lifespan, have a 30-40% faster decline in cognitive abilities, are up to 5 times more likely to develop dementia, and a 3 times greater risk of falling. What I learned from Zeke is that hearing and balance are intimately linked, and there are even examples of commercial fishermen greatly diminishing their vertigo symptoms when they wear their hearing aids. In a word, if you hear better, you are going to live better. And if you want help on your hearing journey, call One Love Hearing Concepts in Athens today for your no-obligation appointment and hearing test. They will be with you all the way. By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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