We welcome companions
At AudigyCertified™ practices, we enthusiastically welcome companions to accompany patients throughout the hearing evaluation and treatment process. While hearing loss is a physical impairment, the social result is a communication disability. We jokingly sometimes say, “Hermits don’t need hearing aids.” 99.9% of our patients get hearing aids because they want to hear people better, especially their closest companions.
The people we live with are our most important communication partners. We rely on them for information, entertainment, and basic human contact. These are the people we spend most of our time with and, consequently, are the most important to us. We share our hopes, frustrations, fears, excitement, and day-to-day lives with them. Hearing well is crucial for this most important human connection to flourish.
Companions are an important part of the evaluation
Hearing loss is gradual, and it is rarely painful. It is so gradual that often the individual doesn’t even realize it is happening. The companion usually recognizes the initial symptoms when the individual misunderstands or struggles in certain situations. As the loss progresses, the companions often feel frustrated by having to repeat themselves, listen to the TV too loud, or help fill in the blanks in social situations.
Companion’s point of view is helpful
On the other hand, the person with hearing loss probably doesn’t recognize the depth of his or her loss. It just appears that others aren’t speaking loudly or clearly. People with hearing loss might not realize how much they miss, and that can become a point of contention in their relationships with those closest to them. Companions can be very helpful in describing these issues during the appointment. The audiologist can then help sort out how hearing loss may or may not contribute to the communication problems.
There might be other issues — such as poor speech understanding, processing (neurological) disorders, or medical issues — that complicate the prognosis. Again, that special companion needs to be present to understand what can and cannot be done to best serve the patient.
Realistic expectations are important
Hearing aids are not a cure; they do not bring dead nerve cells back to life. If hearing aids are prescribed, both patient and companion need to understand what they can and cannot do. Understanding the patient’s hearing loss, accepting realistic expectations, and learning other communication strategies are often just as important to success as being fit with hearing aids.
Shared knowledge is key
Amplification is expensive. Both the patient and companion must decide what investment is right for them. The companion helps us decide what the patient’s lifestyle is like so that we know what level of technology is best. All our patients receive trial periods with their instruments, and the companion is critical in determining our success in meeting the communication goals.
By having the same knowledge base, families are able to go through the trial period in a much more effective way. Sharing insights and experiences with the professional during follow-up visits is extremely helpful in making adjustments and discussing alternative strategies.
Companions enhance the process
Evaluating hearing loss, recommending an individualized solution, going through the fitting of instruments, making follow-up adjustments, understanding benefits as well as limitations, and adopting other strategies for improved communications constitute a process that far exceeds the purchase of a simple product. The results are well worth the effort, and those results are immensely enhanced when the patient and companion work together as a team with their provider.