Katherine Bouton’s latest book, Smart Hearing — Strategies, Skills and Resources for Living Better with Hearing Loss, is just that — an excellent guide to living a better life with hearing loss. Using personal anecdotes and containing extensive research on assistive listening devices, the book provides a road map for people at all stages of their hearing loss journey. If you think you may have hearing loss, or know you do, this book is required reading.
The book is packed with useful information with chapters dedicated to statistics about hearing loss and tips for protecting the hearing that you have left. Organized along the typical hearing loss journey, the book starts with how to recognize a hearing loss, the best way to find an audiologist, and how to think about what hearing device is right for you.
Smart Hearing contains detailed descriptions of a variety of assistive listening devices for people at all degrees of hearing loss, ranging from the simplest of PSAPs to add-ons like T-coils and Roger Pens to surgical options like cochlear implants. For most people with hearing loss, a combination of hearing aids/CIs and other devices works best, making this a valuable yet likely-to-require-frequent-updating section of the book. As OTC hearing aids go from concept to actual products in the next few years I expect there will be many new additions to the marketplace as well.
In the book, Katherine addresses the pending disruption to the hearing loss industry from OTC hearing aids and makes a strong argument for why audiologists will continue to be critical for people with hearing loss — in addition to correct fittings, she writes, aural rehabilitation is often essential. I agree. As devices become more of a commodity, audiologists will have more time to teach patients how to effectively use their devices and other assistive listening accessories so they can hear better in a variety of settings. Helping the patient hear better is the most valuable service an audiologist can provide.
The book concludes with tips and suggestions for living a better life with hearing loss — things like how to get your family and friends to understand your hearing issues and help you hear your best. No surprise here — the first step is accepting that you have a problem. Katherine also discusses how to manage hearing loss on the job, while traveling, dining out, and during an emergency. Her personal experiences provide the dos and don’ts for many of these sections.
If you are new to hearing loss or simply looking to update your hearing loss knowledge, the book is worth a read. I bet you will learn something. I certainly did.
Readers, is there a hearing loss book you recommend?
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