Are Hearing Aids Enough?
Types of Hearing Aids
I have hearing aids, now what?
You have purchased hearing aids to help you understand speech, but are they enough? Audiological rehabilitation or auditory rehab is training to improve your speech understanding. Part of auditory rehab is to learn more about assistive devices such as hearing aids or amplifiers. But a great deal of auditory rehab deals with managing conversations, advocating for yourself in difficult listening situations and being a good hearing consumer. On rare occasions a person can pick up hearing aids and go without any trouble, but most people need some retraining time to allow their brain a chance to learn how to listen and hear again. Auditory rehab also will help you to unlearn many bad habits.
Often auditory rehab is provided in group settings, because it is important to learn how to talk about your hearing loss and what others can do to help you. Acknowledging your hearing loss to others will help you to advocate for yourself. This is one of the first things that you will learn during these sessions. Other topics that may be included would be:
- What hearing loss is and how it impacts your ability to understand speech.
- How your ears and your brain work together to hear.
- How hearing aids help, but do not “fix” your hearing.
- Why you can hear, but cannot understand the words.
- Instructions so your family can understand what it is like not hear.
- Family support information.
- How hearing aids work, how to care for them, troubleshooting, and how often to come back to the audiologist for service.
- Tips on improving speech understanding for your and your family.
- How to use your environment to help you understand speech better.
- Skills to manage your interactions. Communication techniques and environmental modification
- How to deal with background noise, at home, at restaurants, at work, in the car, etc.
- Skills in reading lips and/or sign language (if needed).
- Other assistive devices, vibrating alarms, weather alerts, doorbell flashers, captioning devices, TV ears, etc.
Hearing Aid Insertion
Practice Makes Perfect
Much of these efforts are practice, role playing, and teaching. But some deals with counseling to help you and your family understand each other better and to make a plan of action. This practice environment allows a stress free and supportive place to practice and work on how to advocate for yourself or different ways to listen.
Audiologic rehab also increases patient satisfaction in hearing aids and/or audiological care. The more time that is spent on counseling the higher the patient satisfaction scores are. The end goal of anyone who purchases hearing aids is to be satisfied with the product as well as hearing better. Unfortunately, audiological rehab is not widespread. Often persons decline these services. The best location to obtain support like audiological rehab is near a hospital that has audiologists and/or a school for audiologists. You will want to look for the letters AuD after the name of the person who is fitting you with hearing aids. This indicates that the person has been trained in audiology and is not just a hearing aid specialist without any training.
If Hearing Aids are not Enough
Techniques to Improve Speech Understanding
Audiological rehab can be helpful in teaching you to:
- understand speech
- modify your environment
- advocate for your needs
- teach family about hearing loss
- teach you how to maintain your hearing aids
Abrams, H.,Hnath Chisolm, T., and McArdle, R. (2002). A cost-utility analysis of adult group audiologic rehabilitation: Are the benefits worth the cost? Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development. 39, 549–448.
ASHA (2011). Audiologic/aural rehabilitation: Reimbursement issues for audiologists and speech-language pathologists. Retrived from http://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/practice/reimbursement/coding/AuralRehabforAudandSLP.pdf [PDF].
Hawkins, D. (2005). Effectiveness of counseling-based adult group aural rehabilitation programs: A systematic review of the evidence. Journal of American Academy of Audiology, 16, 485–493.
Kochkin, S. (1999). Reducing hearing instrument returns with consumer education. The Hearing Review, 6, 18–20.
Kochkin, S., Beck, D., Christensen, L., Compton-Conley, C., Fligor, B., Kricos, P., McSpaden, J., Mueller, H.G., Nilsson, M., Northern, J., Powers, T., Sweetow, R., Taylor, B., & Turner, R. (2010). MarkeTrak VIII: The impact of the hearing healthcare professional on hearing aid user success. The Hearing Review, 17, 12–34.
Martin, M. (2007). Software-based auditory training program found to reduce hearing aid return rate. TheHearing Journal, 60, 32–35.
Preminger, J. E., & Yoo, J. K. (2010). Do group audiologic rehabilitation activities influence psychosocial outcomes? American Journal of Audiology, 19, 109–125.
Thibodeau, L. (2008). Page Ten: How the TELEGRAM can help your patients "Reach out and touch someone!" The Hearing Journal, 61, 10–17.
Attending formal auditory rehab session(s)
If you purchased hearing aids, did you attend a formal auditory rehab session(s)?
The bottom line is, be a good consumer.