Audiologic Rehabilitation: Going Beyond the Hearing Aid
Hearing aids do a lot of the work to help you hear better, but did you know that there are other steps you can take to improve communication in your daily life? There is something called “Audiologic Rehabilitation” and to put it simply, it just means that your audiologist goes above and beyond the hearing aid fitting to provide counseling and education to help you more easily adapt to your hearing aids and better understand your hearing loss. Unfortunately, many hearing healthcare providers do not provide any sort of formal audiologic rehabilitation program, even though research shows that it provides immense benefits for people with hearing loss. Since November 2013, we have been offering an audiologic rehabilitation class called “Hearing Aids and Beyond”. During the class, you and a companion will learn about:
- The anatomy of hearing
- Reviewing your audiogram
- Effects of hearing loss
- Adjusting to hearing loss
- Getting the most out of your hearing aids
- Hearing aid care and maintenance
- Managing conversations
- Strategies to help you take charge of communication
- Strategies your companion can use to help you hear better
- And many other topics
The audiologist will also answer any questions you may have, and you will have the opportunity to talk to other people in the class about their experiences with hearing loss.
So why should you sign up for a class?
After attending our class, a patient recently told her audiologist that “the class was a perfect complementation to the whole hearing aid process” and she felt that she was able to get information that really helped her get the most out of her hearing aid. She even said she got answers to questions that she didn’t even know to ask! Another patient once told me that at first she didn’t understand why she should come to a class for her hearing aids, but after attending the class she told all of her family members, as well as her boss and coworkers about what she learned…this made a remarkable difference in the ease of her daily communication. Aside from our patients commenting about their good experiences in the class, research has also shown the benefits of attending an audiologic rehabilitation class, such as:
- Patients who participate in classes rate their hearing aid performance better than those who do not attend a class (Brickley et al, 1996).
- Patients who attend classes report fewer everyday hearing difficulties than those who do not (Hickson & Worrall, 2003).
- Patients who attend classes showed an overall reduction in their self-perception of hearing handicap (Abrahams et al, 1992).
- Attending a class, in addition to wearing hearing aids, has been shown to reduce “activity limitations” related to hearing loss (Beynon et al, 1997)
- Attending a class has been shown to improve the quality of life of the person with hearing loss and their frequent communication partner (Durkin et al, 2013)
Why have group classes?
Group classes are highly recommended so that you can relate to (and benefit from) other patients’ experiences with their hearing aids. Hearing loss is a chronic health condition that affects approximately 17% of the adult population in the United States. This percentage increases with age, as nearly 50% of adults over the age of 75 experiencing some degree of hearing loss (NIDCD, 2010). Even though hearing loss is common, many people do not address the problem. Some of the major side effects of untreated hearing loss are isolation, withdrawal, and avoidance of social situations. Group programs allow participants to learn from each other and realize that the effects of hearing loss are also experienced by others (Erdman, 2009; English, 2008; Hawkins, 2005), which may reduce feelings of isolation related to hearing loss.
Communication is a two-way street
We invite our patients to attend our classes with a friend, family member, or significant other to further help ease the flow of communication. Communication goes both ways and typically involves two or more people. The person with hearing loss needs to be equipped with tools and strategies to improve communication, just as much as their frequent communication partners do. Bringing your close friend or family member to class will help them understand the effects of your hearing loss and increase their knowledge and understanding of how to help you hear your best on a daily basis.
We invite you and your frequent communication partners to call our office at (520) 399-7652 to find out more about our classes, or to sign up for an upcoming class!
Abrams, H., Chisolm, T., Guerreiro, S., & Ritterman, S. (1992). The effects of intervention strategy on self-perception of hearing handicap. Ear and Hearing , 13, 371-377.
Beynon, G., Thornton, F., & Poole, C. (1997). A randomized controlled trial of the efficacy of a communication course for first time hearing aid users. British Journal of Audiology , 31 (5), 345-351.
Brainerd, S. H., & Frankel, B. G. (1985). The relationship between audiometric and self-report measures of hearing handicap. Ear and Hearing, 6, 2.
Brickley, G., Cleaver, V., & Bailey, S. (1996). An evaluation of a group follow-up scheme for new NHS hearing aid users. British Journal of Audiology , 30, 307-312.
Durkin, M.R., Marrone, N., Harris, F.P., & Norrix, L. (2013). Developing a client-centered outcome measure for group audiologic rehabilitation programs. AAA poster presentation April 2013.
Hickson, L. Worall, L., & Scarinci, N. (2006) Measuring outcomes of a communication program for older people with hearing impairment using the “International Outcome Inventory”, International Journal of Audiology, 45(4), 238-246.
NIDCD (2010) retrieved on July 28, 2014 from:http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/pages/quick.aspx