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Stages of Grief as they Apply to Acceptance of Hearing Loss

Donald J. Schum, PhD

September 21, 2009

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Question

Do the Kubler-Ross five stages of grief apply to people with hearing loss who are in denial?

Answer

When people experience a loss, they go may go through the stages of grief as described by Kubler-Ross, and denial is one of the stages they may go through. Aging is a loss, in some cases it's a loss of bodily functions like hearing, and some people have difficulty dealing with aging. People with hearing loss may or may not go through all five stages of grief, I'm not aware of research in this area, however, as clinicians there are things we can certainly take away from this model.

Many people approach the realization that it is time to act on their hearing loss in a constructive, matter-of-fact, forward moving manner. Resistance may not be an issue at all. However, for those patients who do show hesitancy to act, viewing the situation through the filter of the grieving process may help to guide the clinician. From that perspective, we know that grieving takes time. It takes time to go through the stages. Each individual's experience with the grieving process will be different, and while we have the professional responsibility to use our best skills to move reluctant patients toward the use of amplification, patients shouldn't be rushed through the process. It may take a person time before they are ready to take action for their hearing loss. They may also get "stuck" in one of the stages or have trouble moving through the process. So the grieving process is a good parallel for audiologists when considering patient denial and how they deal with their hearing loss and the aging process in general.

This Ask the Expert was taken from the recorded course entitled "Motivating the Older Patient to Take Action" that is part of a six part series of live, recorded and text based courses on the Human Side of the Fitting Process. View the complete course here: www.audiologyonline.com/ceus/recordedcoursedetails.asp?class_id=13126. Visit the AudiologyOnline library for other recorded courses in this series: Managing Patient Expectations and Customizing Advanced Technology Fittings and the accompanying articles to all recorded courses. Look for upcoming live courses in this series - Special Fitting Considerations, the Fine Tuning Process, and the Follow-up Process - that will be presented on 9/11/09, 10/30/09 and 12/4/09. Further details can be found in the AudiologyOnline course listings.

Don Schum currently serves as Vice President for Audiology & Professional Relations for Oticon, Inc. Previous to his position at Oticon in Somerset, Don served as the Director of Audiology for the main Oticon office in Copenhagen Denmark. In addition, he served as the Director of the Hearing Aid Lab at the University of Iowa School of Medicine (1990-1995) and as an Assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina (1988-1990). During his professional career, Dr. Schum has been an active researcher in the areas of Hearing Aids, Speech Understanding, and Outcome Measures. ( B.S. in Speech & Hearing Science, University of Illinois;M.A. in Audiology, University of Iowa;Ph.D. in Audiology, Louisiana State University.)
 


donald j schum

Donald J. Schum, PhD

Vice President of Audiology and Professional Relations, Oticon

Don Schum currently serves as Vice President for Audiology & Professional Relations for Oticon, Inc. Previous to his position at Oticon in Somerset, Don served as the Director of Audiology for the main Oticon office in Copenhagen Denmark. In addition, he served as the Director of the Hearing Aid Lab at the University of Iowa, School of Medicine (1990-1995) and as an Assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina (1988-1990). During his professional career, Dr. Schum has been an active researcher in the areas of Hearing Aids, Speech Understanding, and Outcome Measures. (B.S. in Speech & Hearing Science, University of Illinois M.A. in Audiology, University of Iowa Ph.D. in Audiology, Louisiana State University.)


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