How can PWHL (people with hearing loss) reach their full potential?
Many PWHL wait years to get hearing aids. Over this period of years, a person adjusts to hearing loss. Many adjustments are made without explicitly discussing them with friends, family members, and co-workers. Examples include withdrawing, watching TV in different rooms, bluffing our way through conversations.
In hearing care, there is a tendency to focus on audibility, but what about quality of life? Participation in social events? and in community? As Boothroyd (2007) reminds us, “Effective sensory management may, by itself, lead to improved activity, participation, and quality of life, but there is no guarantee that these outcomes will be automatic or optimal. Nor can we assume that there will be a return to the pre-loss state.”
In my experience, PWHL typically need a boost in confidence, some strategies to stay engaged in conversations when listening effort is high, and specific training. Aural rehab programs (auditory training, lipreading instruction, communication strategies) can help us go beyond audibility to help PWHL to reach their full potential.