Many people are very private about their medical care, and don’t want to share any information about their conditions or treatment. But when it comes to hearing loss, you might want to re-think that position.
Many audiologists point out that it’s a good idea to bring those closest to you, whether that’s family or friends, to your appointment. Why? Because hearing loss doesn’t just impact you. It affects all those you communicate with on a regular basis, especially a spouse, partner or other close family or friends. And, it’s likely the person you bring along to your appointment is the person you communicate with most often, and who you need to hear.
What Happens During the Appointment?
During the appointment, the audiologist may ask your family member or friend if they have noticed a decline or change in your hearing, and what problems you may be having or how your hearing loss affects your life. This feedback can give the audiologist valuable information about what might be going on with your hearing.
In addition, if the audiologist diagnoses you with a hearing loss, and you are fit with hearing aids, the audiologist can ask your companion to talk with you, testing how well you can hear with the hearing aids in place, and making adjustments if necessary.
Close family or friends also may be able to provide valuable information regarding the person’s medical condition, if there are any additional questions. And, there are other advantages to having a support person at your side during your appointment.
- Two sets of ears are better than one. As the audiologist explains your hearing loss, and if you get hearing aids, you’ll be receiving a lot of information in a short amount of time. It can help to have someone else along who hears this important information and can help you remember.
- When your family member or friend is at your side and they hear first-hand the circumstances surrounding your hearing loss, it helps them have a better understanding of the diagnosis, and what the treatment involves. It also allows for all parties to understand realistic expectations from hearing aids the rehabilitation process.
- Communication is a two-way street. Your audiologist can share some strategies with you and your family member or friend about how to improve your communication.
These strategies might include tips such as:
- Make sure you have your communication partner’s attention before speaking.
- Talk from the same room and when possible within 6-8 feet.
- Speak deliberately, not too fast or awkwardly slow, but also with good volume. It’s common for those we are closest to to speak when they are doing something else, like working in the kitchen or while watching television, and these distractions inhibit good communication.
- When seated, be sure you position yourself so that your conversation partner is directly across from you so you can use body language and lipreading cues to help you interpret what’s being said.
- Control the environment if possible. Keep the lights up and the competing noise low. This is probably much easier to do at home. Even when dining out, accommodations can be made if you speak to the manager or make a notation in your reservation.
- You may not hear every word of the conversation, especially if you are in a louder environment. But if you feel like you are missing information, ask a few clarifying questions when necessary.
- Use assistive listening technology. Depending on the size of the group, a remote microphone or spouse mic can help bring distant voices closer or amplify them over background noise. Experiment with different settings on your hearing aids too. Some hearing aids have directional microphones that allow you to direct more power to the front or back, right or left, depending on where it’s needed.