By Lolly Wigall
Humans are designed to have relationships. People are raised in families who communicate with each other. Language is a beautiful creation. Sharing life’s experiences, both the joys and sorrows are part of living. Becoming friends with our neighbors is part of life. Attending public meetings such as religious and civic organizations has been a part of life since the beginning of time. One of my core beliefs is that people need people. We want to make friends and be in families where we can give and receive love and support.
Hearing aids are wonderful inventions. Just like any invention, they are not perfect but they provide some relief from a problem. Clearly hearing aids give benefit to the wearers. And, something we don’t talk often enough about, relief to the family and friends of the wearer. Most often they are tired of repeating and repeating what was said. Hearing aids provide a great service to people.
One major aspect of hearing loss is that the ability to communicate is hampered when one person in the relationship does not hear well. Miscommunications become commonplace.
There have been numerous studies on people with hearing loss becoming depressed and withdrawn. As an industry we talk about clients who do not hear well have become socially isolated and withdrawn.
People never complain that they want to hear less! My attitude toward these complaints is “Hooray!” I am thrilled that people come into the office saying they want to hear better.
I believe people really do want to hear well. In fact most people who come into the office to “complain” talk about frustrating situations where they couldn’t hear well. They desperately want to be part of the conversations. They want to hear their spouses, children, grandchildren and friends. They never complain that they are hearing too much of the conversation.
Do People Really Want Hearing Aids?
We are not selling a product that people do not want. Instead we are selling a product that people are desperate to have.
Our clients purchase better and better technology. Once someone begins to wear hearing aids they purchase the best product they can afford. It is wonderful to tell patients about new advances in technology. Some wearers remember the bad old days of analog hearing aids. And, not surprisingly, they do not miss those days, but are excited about being able to hear better in noisy situations. They really enjoy the ability Bluetooth gives them to connect to their smart phones. They embrace the technology in today’s world.
People desperately want to be connected to their family and friends. They do want to hear and enjoy life. People with hearing loss are desperate to hear well.
Most of our clients are repeat customers. Persons who begin to wear hearing aids generally purchase multiple sets in their lifetime. They do not go without hearing once they realize how much they have been missing. Wearers of hearing aids usually want a backup pair—just for emergencies. They know that life is lonely and isolating if they are not hearing well. Patients proudly bring all their sets of hearing aids in to be cleaned and checked. They want to be prepared to hear well.
One aspect of audiology that is rewarding to me personally is the relationships and bonds that I have made with clients over the years. True friendships have developed. Patients are not patients to me. They are friends who want to hear the best they can.
Feelings of Stress Turn to Relief
When new patients come to the office they are nervous that I am going to confirm that they are not hearing well. Most of the time they admit they have known they were not hearing well for some time, usually years. But, they have been managing to hear most of what they want to hear. I ask what made them finally come in for a test. Most times they admit they are missing out on conversations with loved ones and friends. Sometimes they “blame” their spouse or children. But, most times they just desperately want to hear better.
When I tell them that they do have a hearing loss and that hearing aids will help them hear better, they relax. They know help is available. I enjoy the look on their face when I ask them what color of hearing aid they would like. They usually laugh and say, “You’re kidding!” Then I show them the selection available. Now, they know that life can be fun and that hearing aids are different than they might have thought.
I can see the excitement in their eyes of choosing a device that will help solve some communication problems. Instead of being nervous and upset about having to wear hearing aids, their attitude is one of excitement and anticipation. Now, they can’t wait for their hearing aids. They do not want to wait too long to hear better. They cannot wait to start a new chapter in their lives. They want to be part of conversations and hear the sounds in the world better. Our clients do desperately want hearing aids.
*Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at Hearing Views on October 21, 2014. Last updated August 15, 2016. Title image courtesy Myhealth.va.gov