Why bring your family to an audiology appointment? That's our topic for today on Ask The Hearing Doctors.
Hi, I'm Jim Cuddy, and this is Ask The Hearing Doctors. And I'm joined today by Dr. Ana Anzola, Dr. Wendy Thorne, doctors of audiology with Hearing Doctors, the Washington DC area's, highest-rated audiology practice with over 1,500 five-star reviews.
Ana, Wendy, great to see you both. So why bring your family to your audiology appointment? There's our topic. Obviously hearing loss affects everyone, not just the person with the hearing loss, but others around them. However, a lot of folks are postponing hearing, uh, appointments and audiology appointments because they don't think it affects anybody but themselves. And yet in a study I found, as you guys have gotten me really absorbed in this topic, 44% say their relationships with partners or friends or family have suffered because of their inability to hear well. 34% said they've lost touch with friends or seen marriages end. I mean that's horrible. 69% say their hearing loss interfered with her ability to participate in everyday conversations that could certainly have an effect in the workplace. So obviously it is important for everybody to get involved. So let's talk about why does family offer a different perspective and why they should be joining you at an audiology appointment?
I think it's so important to bring the family members, especially those that are complaining about their spouses or loved ones, having that deficiency because I can then, or we can better understand their point of view. It's um, we have, we even have a spousal questionnaire, we have a questionnaire for the patient, and then we can try to better understand everybody's point of view.
Oh, that's very interesting. And that's a great way to find out if there are already issues.
Yes. Yeah. And a lot of times too, if you're the person with hearing loss, it's such a slow, gradual decline that a lot of times you don't really realize what you're missing. So it's good to have someone who knows you very well to see, you know, that, you know, Oh, you're not going to play cards with your friends like you used to, or he stopped going to Bible study. And I think a lot of that is, you know, some of the hearing deficiency, you may not notice that in yourself.
So you're getting an outside perspective. Yeah.
Most people wait seven to 10 years before they do anything about their hearing.
Even if they've already determined that they might have their own hearing loss?
People are in denial because there's always somebody else's problem, not your problem. Right. It's so easy. You are mumbling. You're not speaking clearly enough. Why are you talking to me from another room? Don't do that. You know? And then, so, so there's that. Um, and we'd like to get to the bottom of it and really explore their, their needs. Everybody has different needs. Um, and then the family members comes with their other needs and it becomes more of a total communication. They become our partners so we can provide them the professional help, but they can provide us with, you know, the, the more personal, you know, to really fulfill their journey.
What are some of the, the, the subtle symptoms and behaviors that, that people should be on the lookout for?
From a family perspective? Um, well, they're my best indicators. There's a family members are saying something, or he or she comes in, um, being dragged by the family member. So that tells me two things. Maybe they're not motivated if they're just wanting to appease somebody else, which is one perspective. And I say, you know, let's not proceed with, sometimes I even say that let's not proceed with, you know, corrective devices. Cause I want you to help yourself. Don't help somebody else because they're going to prove us wrong. "I told you they didn't have any hearing problem."
What about before that appointment, perhaps we're avoiding that appointment altogether. You, as a family member say, I know there's a hearing loss here because I'm seeing certain signs. What am I, what am I noticing in people that, that might tell me, Hmm, we need to encourage them to go to this appointment.
And we talk about getting a baseline, and maybe getting a baseline for both partners, right? The whole family. Get, get a baseline, figure out where we are and know your scores and then go from there. Take action when it needs to be. Um, don't take action. But if certainly if they're missing information, I would encourage my partner to actually go and get yourself checked out. What do you have to lose?
So if you're you're nodding in a conversation, but you really aren't hearing something, there's a sign, right?
Oh yeah, absolutely. Or, you know, Oh, something bad happened and you're laughing. That's not them with appropriate response expected. And so, you know, you build on that.
Now. I don't mean to make light of it, of course, but it's always good to have another set of ears. Right. I mean, to have that family member there, to, to find out, and as you said, creating the baseline for, for both, I mean, that seems like a very logical way to go about this. Yeah.
And you can also, you know, if you think about, if you have hearing loss, you're you want to make sure that that person is gathering all the information. So it's good to have, like you said, another set of ears to have, you know, in case they miss something, you know, the other person got that. And it's like we said, it's not just, uh, something that we focus on, just that one person, it's going to be a whole family, you know, unit. It can really be life-changing, but they don't know that yet. And we get to hear a lot about, Oh my God, you saved my marriage. You know, the first time I ever heard that, I thought, no, they didn't say that. They really meant that. And that was because there was so much misunderstanding going on that, you know, even as an audiologist, I didn't get it till I, you know, I became more, um, a seasoned audiologist to better understand that perspective because that's the psychological aspect of hearing loss.
That was one that jumped out at me and doing the research for this, is the, the, the fact that hearing loss can end a marriage. I just, it's nothing I would have ever thought of. Um, but it's, I guess when you think about it, it's kind of obvious because of the fighting, it starts and all and everything that goes with it. Um, going to any medical appointment sometimes can be daunting. And then all of a sudden, gosh, I have hearing loss. That means, you know, I'm not what I used to be. So I think from that standpoint, it would make a difference to have somebody even there to hold your hand.
Right. And, and better understand, you know, who knows someone better than their spouse or loved ones. Then I think it's so important. And again, we talk about, you know, there's so much information sometimes that we cover that is good to not only have it in a written format, but also making sure that the spouse or loved ones have a better idea. So, you know, from a compliance point of view that things are going to be carried on at home. Educating yourself. Sure.
Right. I mean, that's, that seems like a big key here. And especially, we know as I've been doing this research, I'm an educating myself on it and I think, wow, there's just so much you can't possibly know or that you wouldn't otherwise know.
No. And that's why it's important. Um, to have the, again, the family members of loved ones come through every time, not just the first time, you know, this is not the honeymoon and this is all a journey of visits. And, um, and even after, you know, many years, sometimes we get to record somebody's voice, and then, um, program the hearing system to their voice. They don't get to listen to us. They get to listen to their loved ones. And I've done that. There's one patient I can think of where she had difficulty hearing her husband. So we made a husband program where he came in, he talked, I programmed it specifically for his voice. So when she was home and it was just them, she would click into that setting and it definitely helped them. Yeah.
Wow. That's interesting that you could even do that. Let's talk about some helpful communication strategies that, that people that now, now you're in the situation where you're, you're, you're learning a little bit more, you've learned you realize what you've got in front of you. What can you do to, to improve things?
Um, if you have a better ear, we encourage our patients to have, if, if my right ear is the better one, I would encourage everybody to sit on my right. Um, so having that, um, seating arrangement at home at the table, um, or even in front of the TV becomes important. And it's useful too, if you're someplace where there is a lot of noise, trying to put a lot of the noise behind you, um, and whatever you want to hear, you're facing,
Oh, we'll always have face to face contact. That makes a lot of sense. Yeah. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Support and encouragement. I don't know that, that this, you could underscore this anymore. Uh, the importance of, of support, encouragement from the family member for that person that has the hearing loss.
Yeah. And I, there's such a stigma on hearing loss and hearing aids that, you know, it's very important to also get the family on board that this is not something that's going to make you look old. And that's such an outdated stigma that we're trying to break. So it's, you know, I think it's going to help the family members and also the person with hearing loss to feel more comfortable, kind of squashing that stigma from the beginning, you know, we're all here to support each other and make things better.
Am I going too far by saying it might even make you feel a little younger because you're bringing back some of your hearing.
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I think it's so important. And from the family member's point of view, again, having them be here, we show them, this is how your spouse is hearing, and this is the way they should be hearing and, and building that the gap in the, or the bridge, the there's a big gap between they don't understand what, how things have been going. Now, they have a much better understanding, which is so important.
Get educated and be supportive. Yes. Ana, Wendy, thank you so much for your time today.
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