How do you deal with patients who don't want hearing aids, but their adult children want you to fit them with hearing aids anyway?
Remember that your patient is the older person, not the children. Your job as an audiologist is not to make the grown children happy, but to clinically treat the person with hearing loss. If the children are helping that process by bringing the parent on appointments or motivating the parent to come for a hearing test in general, that's great. However, as a clinician, fitting someone with hearing aids who does not want them, does not usually lead to a successful user of hearing instruments and can create further problems such as noncompliance, resentment and conflict in the family.
As a clinician, the disconnect between the agenda of your patient and the agenda of the patient's children is a good indication that you are going to need to stop and figure out what is going on in the mindset of your patient. Maybe that person really doesn't feel he or she is having communication problems. For a person to be motivated to get hearing aids, the person has to feel that they are really having problems. They need to feel that there is symptom severity, that they are really running into situations where they are having difficulty hearing. More often, though, the person with hearing loss is just not ready or does not want to deal with the hearing problem, rather than they don't recognize it. Use the children's perceptions as a point of discussion in your counseling and be ready to take the necessary time to move the patient through the hearing aid process.
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.)