Reasons to Include Family in Audiology Appointments

Audiologists provide much guidance and support to their patients, but few appointments regularly include family members. This is a missed opportunity. In my latest article for Ida Institute, I describe the ways that including family in audiology appointments can benefit the patient, their families, as well as the audiologists themselves. With Telehealth likely a growing aspect of care in our new COVID-19 world, including the family may be easier to achieve than in the past. An excerpt from the piece appears below. You can read the full article on Ida Institute

Including the Family in Audiology Appointments

Most people with hearing loss start their journey alone. While family members are likely the first people to notice when someone has trouble hearing, they often don’t know how to help. This was the case with my father’s hearing loss. My family knew he had trouble hearing our conversations at dinner and that he was overwhelmed by background noise at parties, but he was so stigmatized by his hearing loss that he never asked for assistance and we never figured out how we could help. As the years passed, my father became increasingly isolated from everyone. I wish we had done more to support him. If only we had known what steps to take, we could have saved much unhappiness and frustration for the whole family.

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Your COVID-19 Hearing Loss Survival Guide

How quickly things change. A few weeks ago I was speaking at a Phonak awards dinner for its top Lyric providers about ways to enhance the provider/patient relationship, planning for two upcoming talks on patient-centered care at the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) 2020 convention, enjoying dinners out, gathering with friends, sending my children to school and practicing yoga at my local studio.

Today, everything is different. My children’s school is closed, the AAA conference is cancelled, and my family and I are hibernating at home in hopes of protecting ourselves and others from the COVID-19 virus. By the time this post is published, other restrictions may be in place. We are all feeling the stress of rapid change, the uncertainty of the unknown, and the disconnectedness that comes from sheltering in place.

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How To Explain Hearing Loss to the Uninitiated

Hearing loss is difficult to understand if you have never experienced it. Part of it is obvious — we don’t hear things well — but other parts are confusing. Why do we hear well in one situation but not in another? Why are we sensitive to loud sounds? Why can we hear some people easily, but not others. Why must communication partners face us when speaking? Do we all know sign language? The questions are endless, as are the ways we try to explain our experience to the uninitiated.

Below I share some ways I have found to be effective in illuminating the mystery of hearing loss to the hearing community. Please share your suggestions in the comments.

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Dining Out Toolkit for People with Hearing Loss

Dining out can be a loud and stressful experience. Today’s popular restaurant décor includes hard woods, mirrors and metal, all surfaces that reflect noise rather than absorb it. A lack of carpeting and other sound absorbing surfaces creates a cacophony of sound reverberating around the space. Background music combined with the clacking of cutlery on plates and other patrons’ conversations add to the overwhelming din. Hearing the waiter recite the specials, let alone enjoying quiet conversation with your dinner companions becomes almost impossible. This is true for everyone. Imagine the challenge if you have hearing loss.

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Does Hearing Loss Cause Us to Misread Emotions?

“Are you actually angry or are you kidding?” I asked my husband recently. His posture and facial expression read angry, but it was not the type of situation that called for this emotion. I was confused. It turned out he was joking, but I was missing the subtle cues in his voice. This has been known to happen with my children as well, and close friends, and when I thought about it, probably with other people too — maybe even perfect strangers. Was this somehow related to my hearing loss?

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