Thoughts on Some Hard-to-Accept Truths
about Hearing Loss & Hearing Aids
by Hearing Impaired Pharmacist, Author & Advocate – Monique Hammond
Certainly, digital hearing aids have helped many people with hearing loss beyond their wildest dreams. However, there are those pesky misunderstandings or secrets that keep plaguing the average hearing aid customer and maybe for good reason.
Hearing loss in itself is hard to understand and hearing instruments are advanced technology that is unfamiliar to people.
It is also important to remember that clients may be seriously biased by exceedingly optimistic ads, the promises of which they would love so much to believe.
Might overly inflated expectations of what hearing aids can actually deliver get in the way of customer satisfaction?
Although the following truths have been amply written about and may seem old-hat to professionals they are news to clients and I can personally attest to that. These are popular issues causing their share of disappointment and even anger throughout the world of hearing loss. It is important to address them up-front as honesty turns out to be the preferred policy for a productive patient-specialist relationship.
> Hearing will never be normal again. The aim is to do the best with what is left.
Although people may recognize that hearing aids will not fix their hearing it is human nature to hope for “normal” or at least quality hearing from modern-day technology that is so promising and that is also quite pricey. It is hard to accept that hearing aids are just that – aids.
> It takes time to get used to hearing through an instrument. Return trips for tuning are necessary.
Computer technology leads people to expect speedy hearing results. Their trust dwindles as the number of adjustment trips rises. Follow-up appointments that are scheduled before the patient leaves the clinic tend to make it “official” that the first settings are neither final nor optimal.
> In spite of advanced technology even digital hearing aids struggle with distance. Efficiency drops the further one is from the sound source.
Surprised hearing aid trainees often voice frustration when finding that they still strain to hear across the living room or around the huge conference table at work. Are assistive devices acceptable? Also, reminders about hearing aid memories to assist in such communication situations do help. People often forget about them or they never understood when or how to use them.
> Understanding speech in noise remains an issue (and a challenge) that even the fastest processors do not handle perfectly in the here-and-now.
This is the biggest challenge for those with hearing loss. Finding out on their own that, although somewhat improved, they still understand little in louder places makes them wonder why they got instruments in the first place: Embarrassing after all this fuss and expense – as one man put it. Discussions about directional microphones, memories and tips for communicating more efficiently in noisier environments are sure to be welcome.
> What are Telecoils?
We are looping America and this is technology that all people with hearing aids should know about, yet many are still not aware. Do they have T-coils? Are they activated? What are they good for? Finding out from others about the advantages of listening through a loop in background noise undermines the trust in their specialist.
Buying and fitting hearing aids is a journey for both patients and specialists and every case is different. Be an empathetic teacher who sets the record straight on what hearing aids can and cannot deliver â clients will find out anyway somewhere down the line. Soften the blow on the hard-to-accept hearing loss truths: Discuss assistive listening devices and offer tips for communicating in challenging situations. Also, stress the importance of protecting residual hearing.
Although they might balk at first most people do appreciate the honesty, which is a confidence and trust builder. And trust is a must for a successful hearing aid purchase and for a solid client/specialist relationship: Trust in the competence of the professional and trust that the patient’s best interest guides the fitting and sales process.