Mild Misnomer: Diverse Needs for Mild Hearing Impairment

Mild hearing losses are clouded by the misnomer used to classify these levels of hearing impairment. The term ‘mild’ suggests little to no experienced impairment or handicap, resulting in a low priority for rehabilitation and amplification of the hearing-impaired individual, the consequences of which can be severe.

Charlotte T JespersenKimiForBio-aReSound’s Charlotte T. Jespersen, M.A. and Kimi N. Moeller, M.A. delivered a presentation on this topic at this year’s AudiologyNOW! Convention.  They covered the common misconceptions associated with mild hearing losses and provided tools for effective rehabilitation and motivation of people in this category.

When it comes to wearing hearing aids, adoption increases with level of hearing loss. There is a direct correlation between hearing aid adoption and difficulty in hearing unaided. In the USA, only 6% of people with mild hearing loss wear a hearing aid.  So, why don’t more people with mild hearing loss wear hearing aids?  There are a number of reasons:

  • Denial (they don’t believe they need them)
  • Cost
  • Stigma (social perceptions of hearing aids)

Jespersen and Moeller say that Expectation Management is important for ensuring positive outcomes and the individual has to be motivated and want amplification to work.  Patients who are motivated to address the challenges of living with hearing loss are more likely to reap the benefits of audiological services.

Here are some Motivation Tools that can be used to encourage patients to take responsibility for their actions and make appropriate behavioral changes.

The Line can help you open a dialogue with your patient about how important it is for them to improve their hearing. It can be used to gauge whether reluctant patients are ready to start taking an active role in their treatment program. The Line can also help you explore whether the patient feels they have the necessary resources to follow through with recommended treatment. It takes about 20 minutes to use this tool.

The-Line

The Box is designed to open a dialogue with the patient about their ambivalence. It can be used in combination with the Line to make patients aware of their own positive or negative thoughts about hearing loss. Using the Box can help you assess the level of patient motivation and explore what might motivate and support them to change their behavior and take a more active role in their treatment. By using the tool, the patient will become more aware of the pros and cons of continuing with the status quo versus changing their behavior. It takes about 10 minutes to use this tool.

The-Box

Communication strategies can be used as part of the hearing aid rehabilitation to improve hearing instrument benefit. It helps the user to take responsibility for the rehabilitation and increases the likelihood of success.  Communication strategies can also be used as a standalone approach to rehabilitation until the individual accepts their hearing loss and is motivated to try amplification.

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