While, most of the content in this blog is clearly supporting the use of hearing aids for adult onset hearing loss patients, you should know that you have other options.
Hearing aids have come a long way, even in the past 5 years. The faster computers get, the more the computers in your hearing aids are able to do in real time. This means hearing aids are getting better at mimicking some of the complex auditory processing that humans do.
Advances have also allowed most people in newer hearing aids (that are fit properly) to have very little, if any, whistling (aka, feedback). If you want wireless connectivity with your iPhone or TV, it’s available. There is also all that research on people with hearing loss (with older hearing aids) that shows significant improvement in quality of life with use of hearing aids (again, that are properly fit).
Basically, what I’m saying is that hearing aids today are pretty awesome. I just needed to say all that to back up why I think that writing off hearing aids entirely will most likely put you at a distinct disadvantage in a hearing world. But I also don’t want people who aren’t ready for hearing aids, or people who aren’t doing as well with hearing aids as they would like, to feel hopeless.
I can teach you lots of things that will make living with hearing loss and/or tinnitus a whole lot easier (whether you have hearing aids or not). Yes, I’m saying even if you have the most high-end hearing aids programmed perfectly for you, there is more you can do to hear as best as you possibly can.
Fortunately (and maybe unfortunately) those things are unique to you and your little network. So, if you and your spouse had mediocre communication skills before one of you started to lose hearing, getting hearing aids will not fix the underlying communication dysfunction.
By the way, we all have some kind of communication “dysfunction”, I’m not pointing fingers here. Also, if your friends don’t understand why you can hear well in some situations and not others, they may never understand how to effectively communicate with you. These are things that seriously frustrate me because IT CAN BE BETTER THAN THAT!
Here is a very quick list of things that can help:
– Do not talk to people through walls. This might sound obvious, but we all have habits like calling your partner’s name from another room, they say, “yeah?” (because they recognize their name), you keep talking, and they have no idea what you are saying and possibly have no idea what room you are in. It doesn’t work, not even with hearing aids most of the time. A habit must be broken.
– Face people when you talk to them and don’t block your mouth. Visual cues are SO important. Sometimes a listener with difficulty hearing doesn’t even know how much they rely on visual cues, so they don’t know to tell you to face them or stop chewing gum. If you have hearing loss, it is great to model the communication strategies (like this one) that you need people to use with you. If you do it, it’s easier for them to copy and a reminder for them to do it as well.
– Get rid of as much background noise as possible. For example, this means don’t try to have a conversation in the kitchen with the dishwasher on and also try to find quieter restaurants or sections of restaurants or ask them to turn down the volume on music.
– Acknowledge that listening takes energy and if you have a hearing loss and you are tired/sick/stressed you may not hear as well as usual. Get rest before a challenging listening situation and take breaks if needed.
– Learn to ask for what you need, and then keep asking when people keep forgetting what you need. For those without hearing loss this means try to be respectful of people’s needs and avoid excessive joking on these topics – someday you will probably be in their shoes!
This point may be very difficult for people who are afraid to bring too much attention to themselves or their hearing loss, or who feel like they are inconveniencing people. The reality is that turning down background noise will help you and the other people in the room. If you remind someone over and over again to face you, they may eventually learn to do this for you and others. On top of benefitting other people by stating your needs, the truth is, people want to have a conversation with you and you need certain things in order to do that. You have to decide if you will ask for what you need or have less fruitful conversations with people. The problem is that the long term effects of less satisfying social interactions can be quite grim – we are social beings and isolation can have a very significant impact. I didn’t say this was easy!
I’d love to review some more tips and situations specific to you and your family, just contact me.
And for those of you with tinnitus who didn’t get relief by using hearing aids (or ear level maskers) there are options for you too. I have a free video course on the topic as well as a continuing educaiton course for your healthcare porivders to take on the most up to date information about tinnitus and treatment. And to be clear, there is no over the counter “tinnitus” pill that has shown any effectiveness in a research study that I know of. If anything some of the over the counter products can make your tinnitus worse!
I’d love to hear your story and help you find your solutions – post in the comment section to share with all readers or shoot me an email.
Note: If you are someone with profound hearing loss and no longer benefit from hearing aids, there are still more options. From learning new communication methods (like Sign Language or Cued Speech) to learning about newer technology (like cochlear implants).