Supporting and Cooperating with Family Can Enhance the Effectiveness of Hearing Rehabilitation

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  • Source:Oticon Hearing Aids

If there's an elderly family member experiencing hearing loss, caring family members would surely take them to get hearing aids. However, hearing aids are merely medical assistive tools. For seniors with prolonged hearing impairment, the degradation of auditory nerves is severe, and hearing recovery is not an overnight process; it takes a considerable amount of time for gradual adaptation.

Hearing rehabilitation for individuals requires a significant amount of time, especially for those who have experienced years of hearing loss before seeking assistance.

Even if someone had good hearing in the past, hearing decline can lead to neural atrophy, and sudden sound stimulation might be heard by the ears but discerning the words becomes challenging. Temporary worsening of hearing might even occur due to such stimulation.

Most individuals need around 6 weeks to adapt, and auditory nerves themselves require 7 years or even longer to gradually regain vitality.

Especially for those with unilateral hearing loss, the neural degradation of the ear with poor hearing leads many neurons to tilt towards the better ear. Therefore, after initially wearing hearing aids, the ear with poor hearing needs time to adapt.

First-time users of hearing aids require extra patience, gradually increasing their exposure to sounds. Family members may need to assist in training them to understand words and sentences.

It's essential for everyone to understand that hearing rehabilitation takes time and cooperation.

Wearing hearing aids doesn't guarantee immediate success for elderly family members. The environment in hearing aid stores is generally quiet, and the devices may seem effective there. However, returning home to a more complex auditory environment with multiple people talking and increased background noise poses challenges.

In such situations, two approaches can be considered:

Opt for high-end hearing aids that can adapt to different environments, as advanced chips and intelligent noise reduction can highlight speech in complex settings.

Face people while talking in complex environments, combining lip-reading to recognize words and sentences. Additionally, encourage family members to speak slowly and avoid simultaneous conversations to help hearing aid users.

Language Training

Many assume that only children need speech training, as they are in a crucial language-learning period. However, the elderly, due to prolonged hearing loss, experience auditory degradation, leading to unclear sounds and reduced speech resolution. Initial use of hearing aids may even result in confusion, requiring an adaptation process for the auditory nerves.

Family members can spend time reading newspapers or stories to the elderly. Reading a passage and having them repeat part of it stimulates the auditory nerves, helping them adapt to the assisted hearing and improving cognitive responses affected by hearing loss.

Eye Contact

Eye contact is a crucial aspect of communication, significantly aiding concentration during conversations. Direct eye contact helps in focusing attention and enhances listening perception, isolating unnecessary environmental noise.

Therefore, maintaining eye contact while talking to the elderly can significantly improve communication fluency.

Observing Lip Movements

Lip movements are vital in communication, especially for those with severe hearing impairment. By combining lip-reading with heard words, individuals can fill in the auditory gaps, significantly improving speech judgment and resolution.

During communication with the elderly, facing them directly and allowing them to see your lip movements can greatly enhance communication efficiency.

Pay Attention to Distance and Surroundings

The farther the distance, the less clear the hearing. This is an obvious principle, but it's often overlooked in quiet home environments. Even with hearing aids, individuals with hearing loss need family members to speak in places where they can be heard, avoiding situations like talking across rooms with the TV on.

Avoid Simply Repeating a Phrase

Repeatedly shouting the same phrase is not an effective way to communicate with the elderly with hearing loss. Instead, if a phrase is not understood, try rephrasing it. Changing the wording can help them analyze the meaning of the statement, improving communication effectiveness.

Hearing loss is not an individual's concern alone; wearing hearing aids also requires the support and assistance of family members. In the process of successful hearing aid usage, family members play a crucial role. If your family member has just received hearing aids, there are several things you can do to help them adapt.

Patiently engage in one-on-one conversations during hearing aid listening exercises. Additionally, read newspapers or books aloud to help them relearn sounds that may be particularly challenging to identify. This companionship not only speeds up adaptation but also makes them feel valued, contributing to harmonious family relationships.

Participate in auditory training with them to test their ability to recognize sounds. List a set of vocabulary words, read them aloud while allowing them to see your lip movements, and then ask them to identify the words without looking at your mouth. Consistent auditory training can enhance speech resolution.

Accompany them to the hearing center if their hearing aids experience issues. After getting hearing aids, it's essential to visit the hearing center for follow-up adjustments 1-2 times. When encountering hearing problems, users often feel worried and agitated. With your presence, any issues can be resolved more smoothly. This applies to both the elderly and children, as family support provides reassurance.

In conclusion, fitting hearing aids for the elderly is just the first step; family members should not forget that they are part of the hearing-impaired population. Guiding elderly family members in speech training helps them adapt to hearing aids more quickly. Paying attention to various communication details, being patient during conversations, ensuring visible eye and lip contact, engaging in close-range communication, and reducing background noise can significantly improve communication efficiency. If you notice that they are not hearing clearly, try expressing the same idea in a different way to help them better understand. 

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