If you’re like many people who experience hearing difficulties, you may have noticed your hearing difficulties long before you set out to get evaluated. In fact, most people wait 7 years on average after they’ve noticed their hearing difficulties to get it evaluated. Taking this first step of getting a hearing test is significant, and bringing a communication partner has its benefits.
Communication partners are vital to helping people affected with hearing loss navigate the world and communicate with people on a daily basis. Although communication partners are extremely beneficial and often necessary to the successful communication of an individual experiencing hearing difficulty, the role of a communication partner can be challenging. In this blog post, we’ll go over what a communication partner is, why they’re important, and why hearing loss is a third-party disability.
What is a Communication Partner?
Communication partners are people that the person who experiences hearing difficulties communicates with on a regular basis. Communication partners can be a spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, friend, sibling, parent, child, relative, colleague, or caregiver. Regular communication is the most important factor when it comes to communication partners.
The best communication partner knows the individual well and is familiar with their personality, health history, cultural background, and language background. The ideal communication partner also knows the person experiencing hearing difficulties well enough to know their communication style and preference. For example, their language usage, vocabulary, sense of humor, daily use of reading and writing, and how they like to interact with people (one-on-one or in groups).
Although there are degrees to success when it comes to choosing/being a communication partner, anyone who has consistent interactions with the individual should suffice.
Why is it important to have a communication partner present during a hearing evaluation?
There are many benefits to having a communication partner, and having a communication partner present during hearing evaluation is very important and will ensure that the extent of hearing impairment is properly diagnosed.
Remember the topics discussed. If the individual experiencing hearing difficulties is an elder person, they may have trouble remembering the topics discussed during the hearing evaluation process. For example, if the individual has dementia, they may forget questions and their answers. This can impede their ability for them to answer truthfully so that the healthcare professional can give them an accurate diagnosis and better understand their situation. A communication partner should be without serious memory problems like dementia and can fill in blanks along with help the person remember certain details throughout the evaluation process.
Allows and answers questions. Along with helping the person to remember details during and after the hearing evaluation process, the communication partner will be able to answer questions that the person experiencing hearing difficulties cannot. Also, they may be useful in reasking the question to the person when they cannot understand or hear the question properly from the healthcare professional.
Understand the big picture about the reason for the cost of the device. Especially for older people who may be averse to change. A communication partner may be vital in making the individual understand why they need the device and how they’d benefit from it. Otherwise, they may decide they don’t need it and continue to experience hearing difficulties unaided by a device.
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Hearing Loss is a 3rd Party Disability
A 3rd party disability is where family members experience disability due to the health condition of the disabled family member. For example, hearing loss can be extremely debilitating to the people who are closest to the person experiencing hearing loss. While the person experiencing the hearing loss may be the most affected, communication partners are affected by the loss as well.
Here are some ways that hearing loss can affect others as a 3rd party disability:
The frustration of repeating. The frustration of repeating something multiple times so that the person with hearing loss can understand you is a very common problem. Repeating things several times over can be frustrating, stressful, and put a strain on both the person experiencing the hearing loss and the communication partner.
A loved one has to explain hearing loss to others. The communication partner also needs to explain hearing loss to other friends, family members, and people the person with hearing difficulties meets. Otherwise, they may not understand the situation and the result is a complete inability to communicate. This can feel like additional work and stress for the communication partner, because they may feel responsible for the ability of others to successfully communicate with the individual who has hearing loss.
It can lead to isolation. The feeling of isolation affects both the individual with hearing loss and communication partners. This is because not only does hearing loss make it difficult for the person with hearing loss to communicate with others and thereby experience isolation, but being a communication partner is a unique position with its own isolating problems.
For example, when communication is difficult between the communication partner and the individual, it can be isolating for both parties. Furthermore, friends and other family members may not understand the challenges associated with being a communication partner who the person with hearing loss depends on to communicate successfully.
How to Schedule a Hearing Evaluation
If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing difficulties, whether it is mild or severe, the first and best step you can take is to schedule a hearing evaluation. Hearing testing will allow healthcare professionals to evaluate the extent of hearing loss in the patient and prescribe hearing devices like hearing aids that will improve hearing ability. Remember to make sure that the person getting evaluated comes with a communication partner that they communicate with regularly to ensure the most accurate results of the evaluation.
Houston Hearing Center is a well-established, reputable hearing center that is helping people of all ages hear better in the greater Houston area. Our audiologists at the hearing center work together with physicians at Houston Ear, Nose, Throat, & Allergy to provide the best hearing and balance care with personalized treatment plans.
We use a multidisciplinary approach so we can provide both audiological and medical care at the same time. Find Houston Hearing Solutions locations near you and request an appointment today at hearhouston.com and start your journey to better hearing!