Should You Include Family in Your Next Audiologist Visit?
Hearing Loss Impacts Those Closest to You
13 May 2019
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.
A husband and wife reflect — with humor — on some of their unproductive communication habits.
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.
Hearing Loss Impacts Your Family Too
Hearing loss does not happen to you alone. It impacts those closest to you too, especially your family. Difficulty communicating causes friction, which can take a toll on these important relationships. Cooperation and effort are needed from both sides meaning getting your family on your hearing loss team is imperative.
It is up to you to bring your family along with you on your journey. This includes not only the logistics of hearing aids and other devices, but also your feelings.
Acknowledge your anger and sadness—they can see it anyway. The more you share, the easier it will be for them to provide the support you need.
Keeping it all inside may give the appearance that you have it under control or that you don't want to talk about it. Breaking down these barriers will strengthen your relationships and deepen your mutual understanding.
Bring Your Family to the Audiologist
When I first began acknowledging my hearing loss, I brought my husband with me to audiologist appointments. His emotional support was helpful, especially as I was still overcoming significant self-imposed stigma about wearing hearing aids.
But once I was fitted with my first pair of hearing aids, he stopped coming. Perhaps that was a mistake.
Consider taking your family to your next audiologist appointment. The possible benefits include:
1. A better understanding of your condition.
Hearing loss is hard for people who don't experience it to understand. Showing them data—including your audiogram and speech in noise test results—will put tangible parameters around your hearing loss that may make it easier to grasp.
2. Taking your hearing loss more seriously.
Having that data explained by an expert—your audiologist—might boost its importance in their minds. It might help them to take your hearing loss more seriously and be less willing to unfairly blame you for lack of effort when communication breaks down.
3. Motivation for communication success.
It takes two to tango meaning your family's participation is needed for good communication. Involving them in your treatment creates buy-in and boosts their motivation to carry out its steps, turning your family into your best cheerleader whenever your confidence or energy wavers.
4. Contributing important information to the audiologist.
Your family can share their perspective on which communication situations are most challenging for you and provide an outside perspective on how well you are able to manipulate your devices. The more audiologists know about your life, the better they can tailor their recommendations to your specific needs.
5. A second set of ears.
Appointments are often packed with information, which may not be supplied in writing. Similar to any important medical consultation, two brains are better than one in catching every detail.
6. Reinforcing communication best practices.
Ask your audiologist to share tips for better conversations. While these may be the same requests you make on a daily basis—face me when talking to me, speaking slowly and clearly, etc.—your family may give them more credence when they come from an expert.
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. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.