August 5, 2010

Severe Hearing Loss: Do Not Give Up

Parker, Molly NEW
By Dr. Molly Parker
Don White Hearing Aid Center

Molly, don’t you ever just want to give up because of your hearing loss?” *

I saw a patient recently who was struggling with her severe to
profound hearing loss. She indicated that she felt like she was failing in general at work, home and on the phone. 

My patient’s biggest problem was not hearing others on the phone. A CAPTEL (captioned telephone) was provided to allow her to hear and read what was being said. She can read her messages from the answering machine. There are other technologies such as Sound Recover Frequency Modulation that can help when she is ready to invest in better hearing.  Vocational rehabilitation, Access Iowa, Alexandar Graham Bell, and Hearing Loss Association of America can provide additional practical and emotional support. Occasionally funding is available for specific technologies to those with severe to profound hearing loss.

With mild to moderate hearing loss, there is a certain amount of “faking it” when listening to conversations. With severe to profound hearing loss, you are entirely dependent on your hearing aids. If your hearing aids are not in top shape, then you are missing out. Even with appropriate hearing aids, phone conversations can be a guessing game. The amount of background noises and other distractions (foreign accents, poor speaking style, etc.) directly affect how well you understand

People with severe to profound hearing loss are normal people with a few extra needs. Some needs are straightforward such as needing to have appropriate hearing aids or using a particular type of technology such as a special telephone. When these needs are not filled, emotional isolation makes it harder to connect to others. You can feel foolish, insensitive, depressed or angry if you hear inaccurately. Not knowing how others have dealt with their severe to profound hearing loss makes this
experience even more isolating to deal with. Practical isolation is the lack of practical knowledge on how to cope, for example, not knowing about certain technology that can help you. The internet can be a valuable source of knowledge and support. 

Families and friends can be your biggest ally or largest foe. Recognize your allies and remain close to them so they can watch out for you.  Know that you will have good- and bad-hearing days and accept it.  Finally, let your audiologist listen to your frustrations; it is helpful to vent!  Be open to trying new technologies.

*Some facts were changed to protect this individual’s privacy.