It Takes Two To Tango: Why You Should Partner With Your Audiologist

The audiologist / patient relationship is a critical one for people with hearing loss. In my latest post for Ida Institute, I discuss what steps people with hearing loss can take to help make this relationship a productive one for both sides. See an excerpt from the piece below. To read the full article click here

My hearing aids were shorting out. The issue was accompanied by a popping sensation in my ears — like when you change altitude in a plane. I assumed I had allergies or a cold, but when this happened repeatedly over a period of weeks, I knew a detailed conversation with my audiologist was needed. In that chat, I learned the actual problem was fluid build-up behind my aids, which are worn deep inside my ear canal. This is a common problem, but it was a new one to me, even after more than 20 years of wearing hearing aids! The only solution is taking a break from the aids so the ear can dry out.

While this was certainly inconvenient, I was happy to have an explanation and a remedy. Together, my audiologist and I devised a way for me to handle this situation on my own should it recur. By working together, we solved my problem and created an action plan for the future. If only all audiologist-patient relationships worked this well all the time.

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Finding Hearing Loss Friendly Health Care Providers

Going to the doctor can be stressful at any time, but when you have hearing loss it can also be a communication challenge. Mumbling receptionists make it difficult to check-in and hear your name called when the doctor is ready to see you. In the examination room, doctors are often multitasking, taking notes with their back turned at the same time they ask you questions or provide information about your medical condition. This doesn’t work for someone who uses lipreading to augment what he or she hears. Surprisingly, this can sometimes occur at hearing loss related appointments, even those at your audiologist’s office. When you have hearing loss, self-advocacy is required to make sure you get the most out of every doctor appointment.

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Should You Include Family in Your Next Audiologist Visit?

My recent article for Hearing Tracker ponders whether you should bring your family to your next audiologist appointment. What do you think? 

The power of including your family in your hearing loss journey can’t be overstated. This was on clear display at a recent HLAA panel discussion on family relationships and hearing loss. The panelists included a married couple, a mother/daughter and two sisters. One person in each pair had hearing loss, while the other did not. The love and respect that they had for one another shone through. Not only were they great partners in life, but also in communication. Each acknowledged that it took a lot of work, but the payoff was significant for both sides.

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Don’t Take Your Hearing Loss Journey Alone

My latest post for talks about the importance of finding hearing loss peers. Thank you to all my readers for making this site a vibrant source of support and learning for people with hearing loss. See an excerpt of the piece below.

The Importance of Hearing Loss Peers

Like most people, I started my hearing loss journey alone. My father had hearing loss, but he never discussed it, instead living his adult life suffering with denial and stigma. He eventually isolated himself from his family and friends, leading a lonely life. When I first noticed my hearing loss in graduate school, I was terrified, assuming I was doomed to a life of solitude as well.

For many years, I followed in my father’s footsteps, hiding my hearing loss from all but my closest friends, but once I had children, this all changed. Since my hearing loss is genetic, I worried that I may have passed it onto them. I didn’t want them to see me feeling embarrassed by my hearing loss or disrupting my life to hide it. I needed to set a better example of how to thrive despite hearing loss.

To educate myself, I began volunteering at a local hearing loss non-profit organization. This helped me to meet other people with hearing loss and discover they were leading vibrant and fulfilling lives. They engaged in meaningful work and had active social calendars. I began to feel less alone and less afraid.

How To Find A Hearing Loss Support Group

Many hearing loss support groups exist — both actual and virtual. Hearing Loss Association of America runs the largest group in the United States, operating more than 100 local chapters and holding an annual convention each year.

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Finding Comfort with the Discomfort of Hearing Loss

One of the reasons hearing loss is so frustrating is because we cannot control it. When entering a new situation, we don’t know what listening challenges we will meet. We can’t figure out in advance if an important speaker will be a mumbler or worse yet a mumbler with a voice in your hardest to hear frequencies. We have little authority over our hearing loss, but what we can control is how we react to it and what steps we take to counteract it. We take back the power when we learn to find comfort with discomfort.

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