Realistic Expectations for Family Members With Hearing Loss

“My mother still has a hard time hearing me even when she is wearing her hearing aids.” 

Many spouses and family members experience a lot of frustration when someone they love suffers from hearing loss.  Typically, they have dealt with this invisible disability for several years.  Once they finally convince that loved one to get hearing aids, they are so excited about the prospect of that loved one being able to hear again, they tend to be disappointed when their expectations are not met.  It is very easy to see someone wearing hearing aids and expect them to be able to hear.  Unfortunately, hearing aids do not restore our hearing nor are they beneficial in all situations. 

As discussed in previous blogs, hearing aids are an “aid” to our hearing.  They function best in smaller areas with distance of 3-6 ft. and in quiet situations.  Hearing aids do not necessarily know who the wearer wants to listen to nor can it ever eliminate background noise.  This is also in conjunction with the fact that the anatomy and physiology of an individual with hearing loss is abnormal as well as the natural progression of cognitive decline as we age. 

So what does this all mean?  Well, not only is it important for the hearing aid wearer to have realistic expectations of what a hearing aid can and cannot do, but also for the family members to understand that their loved one will NOT have normal hearing ever again, will always be an individual with hearing loss, and that there are communication strategies that everyone can use to optimize the ability to communicate with a loved one with hearing difficulties.  (See blog Communication Strategies for Family Members With Hearing Loss on 10/24/13)