I have found many times during my clinical practice a client going through a difficult period. Either adapting to their hearing loss, or to their hearing treatment. One person that comes to mind had entered the clinic with a long-standing hearing loss. She related to me the following:
“I know I’ve had trouble hearing for a long time now. In the last couple of years my family members have mentioned that I should get my hearing tested and do something about it. I’ve had to ask others to repeat themselves often, and I find myself turning the television volume up all the time even with the closed captioning on! I’d like to give hearing devices a try.”
I discuss the results of her hearing loss and recommend a treatment plan suited to meet her listening needs. I explain the pros and cons to each hearing device option. After ensuring a prescription based on the size and shape of her ear, as well as to the technology of her choosing, the hearing devices were made and the client was brought in for her fitting. During the fitting, she was able to wear and use the devices as instructed. Later on, however, she runs into some difficulty in adjusting to her aids…
The client comes into the clinic after a couple of weeks of using her new hearing devices. She expressed her concerns and discussed with me her challenges. She explained that she had some difficulty in putting the aids on in the proper way and working with the controls due to dexterity issues. She also reported that the sound of the hearing device took some getting used to…
Even though every individual clinical case is different, I wasn’t surprised by the client’s feedback. It is quite common for there to be a longer adaptation period to hearing devices if the hearing loss has been left untreated for years. Often, I am able to reach a short term solution that brings the client to a better place than they were to begin with. But, there are a few instances such as this, where the client’s struggle to adapt to hearing treatment becomes very challenging.
From my perspective as a clinician, the client’s hearing loss is severe and requires the proper amplification prescribed to her. But the client is struggling. What are the client and clinician to do? Where do they go from here? A Different prescription? Longer session times with shorter gaps to work on the difficult areas?
For times like these, I’ve learned that it may be best to have a cooling phase. The client is not expected to know everything in the first day or weeks of rehabilitation. In any kind of rehab treatment, there are times where the client can be too hard on themselves. Sometimes, it’s best that when the steps become too difficult to let it go for a short period of time. Afterwards, it’s important to contact the healthcare provider or clinic when ready to try again. After all, there are many solutions to the challenges that a client may face. A modified prescription plan or even a different approach to treatment.
I find these moments where the client encounters difficulty to be the most challenging. Because, although I know that in the long run, the client will be better off, each individual case requires a certain way of counseling or a certain pace to clinical treatment. The end goal is to empower the client, leading them to more positive outcomes. If handled another way, it can leave the client feeling discouraged from, not only present intervention, but future interventions that may be more crucial to their overall wellbeing.
In a way, the client’s struggle is also the clinician’s struggle. Both the client and clinician want a smoother transition for the hearing treatment. And both also need the reminder that hearing rehabilitation is a process. In order to reach the desired goals, it may take a considerable amount of time. Because, after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Audiologist Reg. CASLPO. M.Cl.Sc. Aud (c)
Hearing Excellence Inc. | Burlington
Fax: 1 866-220-2040