Hearing aids are not a “cure all” for hearing loss. They are only a part of a longer term rehabilitation process. The rehabilitation process includes the following:
- Education: With your hearing test you should receive information about your hearing loss, which may include the type and degree of the loss, referral to physicians or other professionals, communication issues you may encounter, options available to you and recommendations for appropriate hearing aids. If amplification is required, you should receive a step-by-step process for the fitting and use of the hearing aid.
- Expectations and Goals: Realistic expectations should be discussed with you. The expectation for hearing aids to give you an increased ease of communication is realistic while the expectation that they will return your hearing to “normal” is not. Determining what you want the hearing aids to do for you is important in selecting the best hearing aid for your needs and wants. Frustration with hearing aids often occurs because there have been unrealistic expectations of how the hearing aids should work.
- Hearing aid Follow-up: After the fitting, there should be orientation, counseling and information on rehabilitation strategies.
- Adjustment Counseling: Learning to hear again is a greater challenge than passively putting the hearing aids in your ears and expecting to hear perfectly. You must learn to adjust to sounds such as footsteps, refrigerator noises, or many people speaking at the same time. Your brain must relearn to hear.
- Communication Strategies: Hearing aids are effective tools for increasing your ability to hear, but they do not automatically make you a better listener. Often someone who has had a hearing loss for a long time becomes a poor listener because it is easier to “turn off” the speaker than it is to struggle to hear them. With hearing aids, you want to continue to look at the speakers and use the visual cues (lip reading) of communication. There are also strategies you can use to help you hear better in situations such as at a party, restaurant, or place of worship.
- Role of Family: It’s helpful to include your family members in the rehabilitation process. That allows them to learn of the difficulties you may encounter and the strategies they can use to further improve your ability to hear and understand what is said.
Hearing aids are not a quick-fix purchase. They are tools that provide amplification to help you communicate more easily. Using those tools, you can relearn to listen and become a better communicator.
At Denver Hearing Aids, we work with you on this rehabilitation process. We provide you with education about your hearing loss and what is involved in obtaining hearing aids. We discuss with you what your goals are for hearing aids. We assist you in developing appropriate, achievable goals. We work with you in achieving easier communication with hearing aids
Adapted from Better Hearing Institute, Aural Education and Counseling by Patricia McCarthy, Ph.D. Professor, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL and Ross J. Roeser, Ph.D. Professor and Executive Director.