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Hearing loss can add confusion to any conversation, but some conversations are higher stakes than others. If you are casually chatting with someone who has hearing loss, you may be able to take time to clarify misunderstandings. If something gets lost in translation, even after your efforts at clarification, you will likely have a chance to remedy the situation in the future.
However, some conversations cannot be taken for granted. When a person with hearing loss has a conversation with a healthcare professional, the stakes can be, in fact, quite high. Particularly older adults who can have a combination of health issues need to make sure they are hearing important information, getting the right sense of questions, and able to answer completely. Recent studies have suggested that this problem is indeed the case for many older adults with hearing loss.
Let’s consider some best practices that you can employ to make sure communication is happening clearly and carefully in healthcare settings with your older loved one who has hearing loss.
How to Clearly Engage the Health Care System
Health care bureaucracies can serve an essential function of making sure every T is crossed and each I is dotted. Yet this labyrinthine system of caregivers and policymakers can also be difficult to navigate sometimes. If you have a loved one with hearing loss, there are practical steps you can take to make sure you get the highest quality of care.
From the outset, be sure to confirm all appointments with your loved one. If possible, access online scheduling and medical records systems to make sure that the appointment schedule is as planned by your loved one over the phone.
When you are ready to engage with the system, prepare as much as possible for your appointment. If you can help your loved one write down a list of symptoms, diagnoses, or questions, that list can be crucial for the health care provider to read.
Communication Strategies in Healthcare Environments
In some cases, communication is smooth sailing in healthcare environments, such as diagnostic rooms with closed doors. Yet, other environments can be chaotic, and the worst case can be an emergency medical center. When there is noise in the background, questions can be difficult to hear, and it is crucial to understand precisely what health care professionals are asking.
Your loved one may need support with translation, and simply standing directly next to your loved one can provide enough audible distance to relay questions. Your close relationship can also become an asset in healthcare environments. With the knowledge you have of your loved one’s condition coming into the appointment, it may become clear that they misheard what the doctor had to say. If you know that there is an inconsistency between what the doctor asked and what your loved one replied, then all you need to do is reiterate the question in a way that your loved one can hear and understand.
Another role you can fill is to carefully record the doctor’s instructions and diagnoses. In the best cases, doctor reports will be transmitted to your loved one in text or online, but it doesn’t hurt to make note of what you hear. In the event that your loved one wasn’t able to hear all the details, you will be available in a supportive role.
Hearing Treatment as a Healthcare Communication Strategy
Although you can form a crucial link for your loved one with hearing loss in healthcare environments, you can’t always be there to form the bond. In the event of an emergency, your loved one needs to be able to communicate clearly and effectively without assistance.
Treatment for hearing loss in the form of hearing aids is the best way to ensure clear communication, as well as the resulting healthcare that is vital for your loved one. Take the opportunity to encourage a hearing test and to support your loved one in seeking treatment. The hearing assistive technology that is available today is light years beyond old-fashioned hearing aids, and your loved one will be delighted with the features and styles currently available. Don’t delay helping your loved one get the assistance that is essential to good health! Contact us today.