It’s more than a hearing test
I was thinking the other day about 33 years ago when I was just starting my audiology practice. One day I had very lovely 83 year young lady who requested a hearing test. As with all my other patients I was interviewing/talking to her in my sound booth when after the very first question she started crying. Okay, I’m a guy in my 20’s thinking “it’s just a hearing test,” but I soon found out that there was so much more to her story.
The patient proceeded to tell me she had just been diagnosed with dementia by her M.D. and her family agreed. This was a tough realization for her and she was beginning to think she was “losing it” because she kept hearing and responding incorrectly when people spoke to her. This hearing test was the last check for her, she was afraid the results would reveal what she feared the most. It was then that I realized how much I needed to exercise empathy with my patients, as they all have stories as to why they are getting their hearing checked.
In the case of this patient, we found she was barely hearing conversational speech, a common symptom of hearing loss. The good news was that it was fixable and within 2 weeks the patient was fit with hearing aids. Once fit everyone realized pretty quickly she had no dementia, she simple wasn’t hearing enough to understand what was being said to her. This is what I love about my job, helping people get connected back to their lives.
The big pictures lesson I learned was I wasn’t just doing a hearing test, for a lot of patients I’m a life line in order to keep a normal life. I’ve never forgotten that. In fact I’ve made it my mission to educate others on the topic as much as possible.
So why don’t people recognize that they have a hearing loss?
There are 3 primary reasons:
1) Hearing loss can naturally happen over time and isn’t always noticeable. In today’s world there are so many sounds around us it makes it hard to focus. Hearing loss is not like turning down the sound on TV. Most of us will lose hearing in the high frequencies first while maintaining good hearing in their bass. This is why you will hear many with a hearing loss complain that they hear as loud as they use to but no longer can understand what is being said to them.
2) It is easy to dismiss a potential problem if you’re not ready to face the possibility of it. On average, it can take up to 7 years before someone will do something about their hearing upon initial diagnosis. Imagine all the sounds that are lost within a 7 year period! Don’t miss out on your life out of fear! In the case of my lovely patient above, she was afraid of the outcome because it was possibly going to change her entire world. We were able to help her connect back with her world.
3) Hearing loss is more noticeable to friends and family first. I’ve seen this over and over again. The person with hearing loss doesn’t realize they are even missing anything. They can’t hear people calling out to them so when they finally do hear, it’s the first time. To them, they don’t understand why everyone is so impatient. It is here where those relationships can start to feel strain. The hearing impaired person gets tired of the attitude and “nagging” the friends and family get tired of repeating themselves. If a solution isn’t diagnosed soon, those relationships will eventually give up on each other and isolation will occur. This is what we want to stop on a daily basis, people don’t have to live like that.
If you or a loved one can identify with anything outlined above, please don’t hesitate to call your audiologist today. Many times the solution is simply removing wax build up. You don’t have to go through this alone and you don’t have to watch a family member go through this on their own. Give us a call today.
Our patient-centered approach allows us to focus on satisfying your hearing care need, whatever they may be. Our practices will work with you to diagnose and find solutions for your hearing, tinnitus, and balance needs using state-of-the-art equipment and the most advanced technology. Because our focus is entirely on your unique needs, coming to one of our practices means that you’ll experience patient care that is specific to you, with exceptional follow-up care that ensures your hearing and balance needs are being met.
A strong patient-provider relationship based on honesty, integrity, and values is what we strive for, and we feel that this is the best approach to making sure you don’t miss any of the precious moments in your life.