Family gatherings and hearing loss
Speaking of the New Year, with it comes an annual influx of calls to my practice that go something like this:
“My father/mother/uncle/aunt/grandfather/grandmother/etc. seemed to be having difficulty taking part in conversations at holiday gatherings. Could it be their hearing? And if so, what can be done about it? We are concerned that if these communication difficulties are not hearing related, that it could be something more serious.”
Contact an audiologist
First of all, I want to say how wonderful it is when I hear from someone like this — they exhibit such concern about a family member that they would be willing to take the initiative and do research such as this. What I and my staff would assure this person, and what I want to convey to those of you reading this article, is that they have made a good choice in contacting a doctor of audiology’s office, as audiologists are the professionals who are licensed and qualified to perform comprehensive, diagnostic hearing evaluations.
This is very important in ascertaining whether or not someone’s hearing difficulties are caused by hearing loss, and what it is that caused the hearing loss. Is it from long-term exposure to loud noise? From injury? Or is it from illness or disease?
Hearing loss affects the entire family
As hearing difficulties affect the entire family and not just the individual, strong support is important in achieving a successful solution. Studies have shown that people with hearing difficulty can feel isolated from their families, as well as depressed, withdrawn, and lethargic.
Family support is helpful
However, families that are supportive, patient, encouraging, and willing to problem solve can greatly assist their loved ones. My suggestion is to initiate the research to find the top professional in your area. It does sometimes fall upon a family member, because the person with hearing difficulties is often unaware of just how far his or her hearing has regressed.
Hearing vs. understanding
Many times I’ll have a couple in my office with one half saying, “Well, I do hear her,” but the spouse will counter with, “Yes, but he doesn’t understand me.” Typically, further discussion will reveal that he has been having difficulty understanding for some time, but that it had taken place so gradually and over such a long period that he wasn’t really aware just how much it had been affecting his wife and their family.
The path to better hearing
So what can you do as a family member if you suspect hearing difficulties are affecting someone dear to you?
If you are reading this article, you are off to a good start — doing research and gathering information is very important.
Here are some additional sources of information, produced by Audigy Group:
www.hearingcareblog.com is essentially an archive of informative articles on hearing care written by AudigyCertified™ professionals from all across the U.S.
www.agxhearing.com highlights the private-brand technology produced for Audigy Group members by our manufacturing partners. This new website is full of great information and is very user friendly.
www.nsaudiology.com is the website for my practice, North State Audiological Services, and is also full of very useful information, including an archive of articles I have written. Simply click on the “Ask Dr. Chalmers” button to access the archive — because hearing is a wonderful gift!