OF HEARING LOSS ON INDIVIDUALS AND THEIR FAMILIES
by Laine Waggoner, MA, MS
hearing people have not been exposed to information about the challenges of
hearing loss. If
you do not experience hearing loss personally, you need great empathy for the
frustrations faced by hard of hearing people on a daily basis. You also need
enhanced communication skills to assist your clients (and/or their family
members) to become more competent, improve their self-image and have a
satisfying and productive lifestyle in the mainstream of the hearing world.
you need to learn: You must learn how to
recognize the signs of hearing loss and its varied physical and emotional
symptoms. Your communication style must work toward achieving greater
understanding and enhancing interpersonal relationships.
issues: Among the major issues faced by the hard of hearing
are grief over the hearing loss, low self-esteem, stress and the
resulting fatigue, depression, loss of intimacy, withdrawal, social isolation
and possibly chemical dependency.
hearing people understand that for those of us with loss of hearing it is,
more accurately, loss of intelligibility. Words are often
missing or distorted…leading us to believe that “everyone is
are several simple and affordable assistive listening devices you can use in
your practice to help make your services more accessible. These are helpful
for communicating with both hearing
aid users and those who have not yet acquired hearing aids or who do not
realize how much they are missing due to a hearing loss.
groups and pre-and post-fitting education, or auditory rehabilitation, play
a significant role in consumer satisfaction and adjustment.
are a number of other resources that go into more detail on such subjects as
how hearing loss is experienced, its physical, emotional and social impact,
problems that lead to communication breakdown, impact on the spouse and
family, special problems of older adults, steps toward adjustment, the value
of assistive listening devices, how to cope in a medical facility and, most
important, implications for helpers and suggestions for how to make your
services more attractive and accessible.
Waggoner is the Director of HEAR (Hearing-loss
Education And Resources), which conducts support
groups, facilitates seminars, and provides private coaching for individuals who
are experiencing hearing loss. Email:
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