Living with Hearing Loss

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,093
    Barbara Kelley, Deputy Executive Director of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) talks about living with hearing loss.

    Barbara Kelley: I am Barbara Kelley from the Hearing Loss Association of America. When someone has a hearing loss, the very first step in coping with it is simply acknowledging its reality. This may not be easy to do, but you can't take affective measures to minimize the impact of the hearing loss if you deny it. This doesn't mean that you have to like it. But once you are diagnosed as having a medically irreversible condition, then it's time to move on. Your next step is to obtain appropriate well fitted hearing aids through a certified hearing aid dispenser. Professionals who dispense hearing aids include audiologists, hearing aid specialist, and ear, nose and throat doctors. Hearing aids are not like glasses, they do not correct hearing, but they are helpful in improving hearing and quality of life. Stephen P. Bowditch: Who would benefit from a hearing aid is going to depend upon not only their level of hearing loss. But also their level of frustration with that hearing loss. Barbara Kelley: You do want to verify that the dispenser is following the best practice guidelines as recommended by the American Academy of Audiology. The Hearing Loss Association of America has a consumer checklist for purchasing a hearing aid, which is very helpful to take along. It's available at hearingloss.

    org. There are number of other steps that can be taken to supplement the assistance provided by a well fit hearing aid. In the initial evaluation the hearing professional well determine specifically what further services or information will be most helpful. The hearing professional will provide you with much written material. It is in your best interest to read this information. On your follow-up visits, and there should be at least two in the first year. Be sure to ask the hearing professional to further explain anything you don't quite understand. Here are some hints to improve your communication. Most important, be sure to watch the face of the person talking. Unless you are severely visually impaired, whether you know it or not, you are likely doing some lip reading. Understand speech and noise is the major complaint of anyone with a hearing loss. Do as much as you can to quiet the environment. Bonnie O'Leary: Restaurants? My strategy is to ask my friend, "Can we please go at 4:30?

    " So, we go before it gets busy and we go to specific places where I know that the acoustics aren't too bad, and then I'll tell the seating hostess "I have a hearing loss so we need to be in a booth or we need to be off to the side.

    " You don't want to sit in the middle of the restaurant when you're surrounded by noise. Barbara Kelley: Use assistive listening systems provided in many public places. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires most public venues to provide them. You'll enjoy a movie or the theater more if you can hear what's going on. Be sure that you can effectively engage in telephone communication. If not, check with your hearing aid dispenser. Many alternatives such as amplified phones and speech to text phones systems are available. Be sure that you can hear the smoke alarm system. The typical ones emit a high frequency tone that is difficult for people with hearing loss to hear, particularly when sleeping. There are systems that emit a low frequency sound or use strobe lights or a vibrator as an alerting system. An effective smoke alarm system can be a life saver. So after acceptance, these are some of the things that you can do to overcome the daily challenges of living with hearing loss.