In a recent Final Word article by Dennis Van Vliet, called “Technology Bites Back,” Dr. Van Vliet said, “Dealing with the noise problem is the Holy Grail of hearing aid fitting.”
“[Hearing aid] technology will not solve our problems. It is a tool that helps us do our job better…If we expect to provide better hearing to a larger segment of the population who needs it, we need to look beyond [hearing aid] technology.”
Dr. Van Vliet was not making a case for LACE training—but he could have been!
We do need to look beyond hearing aid technology.
Even with normal hearing, older adults require a 3-5 dB higher signal-to-noise ratio than younger listeners. If this is true even with normal hearing, then there is something beyond hearing loss that makes it harder to hear in noise.
That something is: changes in the brain as we age. There are changes in changes in processing speed, working memory, the ability to focus when more than one thing is going on at once. Not to mention reduced confidence in communication skills.
Hearing aids can’t solve those problems. They exist even for people with normal hearing.
Hearing aids help solve the problem of hearing loss and its effects on communication. LACE training helps solve the problem of aging and its effects on communication.
The average improvement on the QuickSIN test that is embedded into the LACE program is 4.5 dB. That approaches the effectiveness of directional microphones!
The disconnect is this: hearing aids only partly solve the problems that our clients face. We need to look at the whole client when we enhance communication. The Holy Grail is within our reach—if we’d only consider auditory training and involving clients in their own success.