Hearing loss can have a negative impact on the quality of life of individuals. Hearing loss alters the certainty of everyday life causes social insecurity, fear, and anxiety in individuals who suffer from it (Preminger & Yoo, 2010). Often people with hearing loss are fitted with hearing aids, however hearing aid fittings should not be the final step for individuals with hearing loss. Hearing aids do not restore hearing to normal, therefore additional counseling should follow a hearing aid fitting in order to aid in the coping of hearing loss.
Jessen (2014) referred to communication as a puzzle and to hearing aids as only one piece of the puzzle. Aural rehabilitation can assist in completing the communication puzzle. According to Hawkins (2002), the primary purpose of aural rehabilitation is to guide an individual with hearing loss to a better understanding of their hearing loss and develop strategies to cope with the situations where problems continue even with hearing aid use A speech-language pathologist can provide individuals with aural rehabilitation.
Abrams and colleagues (1992) conducted a study aimed in determining whether participation in aural rehabilitation program resulted in greater reduction of self-perceived hearing handicap than hearing aid use alone. The researchers found that hearing aid use was correlated to reduced hearing handicap self-perception. However, the researchers found significant evidence that participating in an aural rehabilitation program in addition to hearing aid use resulted in a greater reduction of self-perceived hearing handicap than did hearing aid use alone.
Hearing Loss and Families
The impact that hearing loss has on family members is often referred to as a third-party disability (Scarinci et. al., 2013). However, it is important to realize that successful communication begins with the speaker. The speaker’s responsibility is to create a clear message that can be easily received by the listener (Jessen, 2014). As speakers, family members should be cognizant of their facial positions before beginning the message. The speaker is close enough when they can reach out and touch their loved one. When trying to get the attention of a family member with a hearing loss, the speaker should reach out and touch them, rather than yelling. Family members should also speak clearly without over-exaggerating words. The speaker should make the family member with hearing loss aware of changes in topics and make sure that the message is being understood throughout communication (Jessen, 2014).
Rose Costanzo MA CF-SLP, TSSLD