Questions about hearing aid use often center on technical aspects: How do I change batteries? Are the settings adjusted well for clarity? How is the comfort of the device?
All these factors are important, but frequently missed is another line of questions that may help or hinder the success of the hearing aid.
Researcher Dr. Barbara Weinstein’s article, Hearing Aid Satisfaction Revisited, in the May 2016 The Hearing Journal suggests that our social interaction and support is also critical for success with hearing aids. Communication with partners, co-workers, friends, physicians and caregivers all play a role in helping a person with hearing loss adjust to hearing aids.
For years researchers have known that social isolation adds to the stress and poor outcomes sometimes experienced by those with hearing loss. By way of contrast, supportive attitudes help those with hearing loss to express themselves and may result in in increased satisfaction with the hearing aid. In fact, Dr. Weinstein suggests four ways of looking at social interaction that can positively affect hearing aid success:
- Social Isolation: Relative absence of social relationships
- Social Integration: Overall level of involvement with informal social relations
- Quality of Relationship: Positive and negative aspects of social relationships
- Social Network: Web of social relationships in which one is involved
Talking about communication strategies may be a useful addition to the discussion about getting familiar with a new hearing aid. In particular, talking about how hearing may restoring social ties and channels of communication with co-workers, friends and family.