Hearing loss is often thought of as a “personal” problem that only affects the person with the hearing loss. In recent years though, it has been recognized that the hearing loss also affects the patient’s entire family. Family-centered hearing healthcare reflects the definition of family-centered care from the Institute of Medicine which states: “Family-centered care provides care to patients and family members that is respectful of and responsive to individual, patient and family preferences, needs, and values, and ensures that patient and family values guide all clinical decisions.” Family-centered hearing healthcare has long been the standard for the audiological care of infants and children but not for adults and their families. This is now changing rapidly and at HearMD, we feel that this is the best approach.
We recognize that communicating with ease among family members with normal hearing and those with hearing loss can be hard. It can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, anxiety, withdrawal, depression/sadness and even resentment. Communication that was once easy and effortless becomes difficult. This can significantly decrease the joy of family life and can have negative effects on all members of the family, not only the patient. By involving both the patient and their family in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the treatment (which is often hearing aids and other assistive listening devices), the outcomes are potentially more successful in meeting the personalized needs of each patient. Every patient’s listening needs and communication difficulties are different and they need to be specifically addressed by the clinician. So how do we carry out this approach at HearMD? Here are a few of the ways:
- We highly encourage our patients to invite a family member/friend to any or all of their HearMD appointments.
- We ask both the patient and the family member/friend how the hearing loss is affecting them, their emotions and their ability to communicate with each other on a daily basis. The more specific the better.
- We set hearing and communication goals for both the patient and the family member/friend. (i.e. having TV at a lower volume, having to repeat less, easier conversations, using the phone more successfully).
- We consider the patient and family member/friend to be the experts in how the hearing loss is affecting them. We treat every person as an individual and try our very best to tailor our approach to their particular needs both physically, socially and emotionally.
The benefits of this approach to hearing healthcare are numerous and can include higher levels of overall well-being, more confidence in social situations, greater awareness of the effects of the hearing loss on their life, and better relationship quality with their family or friends through ease of communication.
We sincerely hope that you will take action to improve your hearing ability and we are here to help. If you have questions about hearing loss and our approach to treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us at HearMD for more information or to make an appointment. Call 856-602-4200. We look forward to meeting you.