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.

Share Your Insights With Your Patient’s Family

Hearing loss is difficult to understand if you have not experienced it yourself. This is true even if the person with hearing loss is a family member that you see regularly. Attending audiology appointments will help educate the person’s family about the seriousness of the condition and provide tools they can use to provide support. Here are the ways you can help your patient by including family.

1. Explain listening effort. My hearing loss friends sometimes complain that their families accuse them of selective hearing or not trying hard enough to hear. These statements are hurtful, especially since most people with hearing loss are expending a lot of energy each day to do what people with typical hearing take for granted — verbal communication. Including the family in appointments will help them understand the severity of their family member’s hearing loss. Show them the audiogram and explain the speech banana. As an expert, your input may get through where the family member’s explanations have not.

More patient benefits are discussed in the full article.

Gather Useful Insight Into Your Patient’s Experiences

Contact with your patient’s family can also be useful for you as you work to understand your patient’s particular communication challenges. The family may have insights into the situations that are easiest and hardest for your patient to hear, as well as what listening strategies they are currently using. Having the family involved in treatment planning can also help boost the likelihood of patient compliance.

1. Gain first-hand observations from communication partners. The patient’s family will have specific insight into what situations are most difficult for your patient. They can share lifestyle changes that have taken place, as well as communication goals that your patient might be less willing to discuss. The better data you can gather, the more tailored your treatment recommendations can be. Your guidance may need to include both hearing aids and other assistive listening devices or apps.

More audiologist benefits are discussed in the full article.

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2 thoughts on “Reasons to Include Family in Audiology Appointments”

  1. Hi Shari

    Great blog.

    I remember years ago when I first met my husband he tried to understand my hearing issues but didn’t really get it until I took him with me when I was getting new hearing aids. After my audiologist had done testing my hearing we discussed the results and I got her to explain to my now husband what the test results meant in terms of how I heard the world and what I could and more importantly, what I couldn’t hear with hearing aids, why he needed to make sure he had my attention and faced me when he spoke.

    He started to understand more and came willingly with me when I started classes to learn sign language, and today we use sign language as our main method of communication. It was a slow process but he gradually grew accustomed to my deaf world.

    It was my audiologist’s involving him in that appointment years ago that started it all.

    Please stay safe and well.

    Ian

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      What a great story! Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

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