What is aural rehabilitation and why is it important?
For those with hearing loss, hearing aids are incredibly helpful. Hearing aids allow previously inaudible speech sounds to be heard. However, the way the brain interprets sound is very important as well. Some people adjust to hearing aids easily. For others, it takes some time to get used to the new sound quality. As you can imagine, for those that have had hearing loss for a long time and have never worn hearing aids, the adjustment can be more challenging.
For many people, hearing aids alone are not enough. Aural rehabilitation is extremely important. Aural rehabilitation is a person-centered approach that allows the audiologist to help develop a plan to help improve the quality of life, not only for the person with hearing loss but also for their family members. Aural rehabilitation considers interpersonal relationships, specific lifestyles, and an individual’s activities. For example, two people can have the exact same hearing loss and even be fitted with the same hearing aids but have two completely different lifestyles. If one of those people is very active and likes to be outside playing tennis often, their needs are going to be different than someone else that likes to eat out at noisy restaurants frequently. The audiologist can program the hearing aids specifically for these different environments and give tips to help you communicate best in these challenging situations.
Hearing loss affects the individual with hearing loss and everyone that communicates with them. For many family members and spouses, the frustrations continue to grow as communication struggles arise. These frustrations can mount for years and end up negatively affecting relationships. This can lead those with hearing loss to avoid conversations and certain challenging environments. People with untreated hearing loss attend fewer social activities. Withdrawing from others because of hearing loss is unfortunately common if certain needs are not addressed. This can lead to depression and anxiety as well. Those with untreated hearing loss report a 70% increase in anxiety and a 60% increase in sadness.
Hearing loss can be very isolating. The more we can spread awareness about these issues, the more we can help combat it. There are other social impacts for those with untreated hearing loss, including making an average of $12,000 less per year compared to those in the same profession without hearing loss. Individuals with untreated hearing loss also report lower energy and increased fatigue. It takes a lot of effort if someone is straining to hear all day long. It’s not surprising that at the end of the day, those with hearing loss can be exhausted. All of these social impacts can be devasting for those with untreated hearing loss. These factors affect their family members as well.
Aural rehabilitation aims to educate not only those with hearing loss but also their family members so that they can understand how hearing loss impacts daily life. From this education, they can take steps to improve the difficulties they have that are associated with hearing loss. At Oro Valley Audiology, we factor in lifestyle, interpersonal relationships, and one’s activities when treating a hearing loss. We also offer an Aural Rehabilitation class that those with hearing loss can take with a frequent communication partner. This can be a spouse, child, or friend. This class will give the communication partner a better idea of what it’s like to have a hearing loss and what they can do to help their loved one with hearing loss. For those with hearing loss, it will give them tips on the best way to give others feedback when they are not understanding. These tips and tricks can make a world of difference to reduce the stress and frustration of poor communication. To sign up for our next Aural Rehabilitation class call 520-825-4770.