UF Program Offers Communication Strategies To Hearing-Aid Users

May 25, 1998

GAINESVILLE---Hearing aids don't restore normal hearing, but they do help and could be more useful to the estimated 85 percent of older Americans who could benefit from the devices but don't wear them.

"People assume incorrectly that hearing aids do for ears what glasses do for eyes--that your hearing gets completely restored," said Alice Holmes, associate professor in the College of Health Professions' department of communicative disorders. "That misunderstanding results in some dissatisfied customers who never learn how to get the most from their aids. They think, 'This thing doesn't work,' and spread the idea that they aren't worth the trouble."

To prevent hearing aids from winding up in dresser drawers, Holmes has developed a free orientation program for new wearers. The four-session program, offered at UF in Gainesville, has been shown to increase patient satisfaction. It provides a realistic picture of what hearing aids can do, how to adjust and maintain them and how to prevent communication breakdowns.

In an effort to encourage other audiologists to create similar programs around the state, Holmes is scheduled to discuss the orientation Saturday at a conference of the Florida Speech-Language-Hearing Association in Marco Island.

"Hearing aids can significantly improve the quality of life for a person with a hearing loss, and technological advances have dramatically improved hearing aid performance," Holmes said. "But it must be remembered that they're not going to give a person normal hearing."

Like many others who have gone through the orientation program, Charles Hall, 74, of Gainesville says his aids are excellent. "It makes quite a bit of difference in what I can and cannot do," said the retired three-star general whose long Army career exposed him to loud aircraft and bursts of artillery fire. "I can hear people talk now, where before I was kind of guessing and always asking people to repeat what was said."

Hall said his wife of 49 years has been saying from the beginning of their marriage that he had a hearing loss. But he didn't get help until February, motivated by a good friend who had recently begun wearing hearing aids and strongly recommended them.

During the Thursday morning group orientation sessions, Holmes and her colleagues: "You can ask a person to repeat what was said, but if you don't get it the second time, you're probably not going to get it the 42nd time either," Holmes said. "So we would suggest that the person be asked to rephrase their thoughts or spell a word that is causing trouble.

"A lot of what we cover is common sense, but sometimes common sense goes out the window when we feel embarrassed and blame ourselves for a problem, rather than blaming the situation."

Holmes urges new hearing aid users to bring their spouses or other household members with them to the sessions.

"They can learn a lot of the strategies that can help a person with a hearing loss," she said. "They can learn not to shout from one room to the next or to turn the TV down when trying to have a conversation.

"Sometimes the unrealistic expectations about hearing aids come from the people around the person with a hearing loss," Holmes noted. "They may be able to hear fine, but sometimes they are the ones with the communication problem."


University of Florida

Related Hearing Loss Articles from Brightsurf:

Proof-of-concept for a new ultra-low-cost hearing aid for age-related hearing loss
A new ultra-affordable and accessible hearing aid made from open-source electronics could soon be available worldwide, according to a study published September 23, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Soham Sinha from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia, US, and colleagues.

Ultra-low-cost hearing aid could address age-related hearing loss worldwide
Using a device that could be built with a dollar's worth of open-source parts and a 3D-printed case, researchers want to help the hundreds of millions of older people worldwide who can't afford existing hearing aids to address their age-related hearing loss.

Understanding the link between hearing loss and dementia
Scientists have developed a new theory as to how hearing loss may cause dementia and believe that tackling this sensory impairment early may help to prevent the disease.

Study uncovers hair cell loss as underlying cause of age-related hearing loss
In a study of human ear tissues, scientists have demonstrated that age-related hearing loss is mainly caused by damage to hair cells.

Hair cell loss causes age-related hearing loss
Age-related hearing loss has more to do with the death of hair cells than the cellular battery powering them wearing out, according to new research in JNeurosci.

How hearing loss in old age affects the brain
If your hearing deteriorates in old age, the risk of dementia and cognitive decline increases.

Examining associations between hearing loss, balance
About 3,800 adults 40 and older in South Korea participating in a national health survey were included in this analysis that examined associations between hearing loss and a test of their ability to retain balance.

Veterinarians: Dogs, too, can experience hearing loss
Just like humans, dogs are sometimes born with impaired hearing or experience hearing loss as a result of disease, inflammation, aging or exposure to noise.

Victorian child hearing-loss databank to go global
A unique databank that profiles children with hearing loss will help researchers globally understand why some children adapt and thrive, while others struggle.

Hearing loss, dementia risk in population of Taiwan
A population-based study using data from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan suggests hearing loss is associated with risk of dementia.

Read More: Hearing Loss News and Hearing Loss Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.