Everyone who is on social media has seen the heart-warming videos of children and adults getting hearing aids or cochlear implants for the first time, and the positive, exciting, emotional reaction to hearing their loved one’s voice for the first time. Those moments are the icing on the cake for Audiologists, and are why we all love our job. But, sometimes it takes a lot of preparation to make the cake before it’s ready for the icing.
The preparation often takes the hard work of the family of someone who has hearing loss; to recognize there is a concern, to address the hearing loss concerns, to convince the person with hearing loss that there is a problem, and encourage the person to seek help with their hearing. This process can take years for some. When you bake a cake, you have to add multiple ingredients and bake it slowly. If you miss any ingredients or try to bake it too fast, it tastes terrible or gets burnt, and then is thrown in the trash. I see patients all the time who didn’t have the right “ingredients” or were “burnt”, and they decide not to get help with their hearing, or were forced to make a decision they were not ready to make, so either the person or the hearing aids get “thrown away”. What are the right “ingredients” for a person who has hearing loss?
One important ingredient in almost every recipe is SALT:
S: Support from family showing that the ability to hear can be important to communicate and improve quality of life, not yelling at a person because they said “what” for the 3rd time, or didn’t answer correctly, or didn’t even respond.
A: Advocate: A person with hearing loss needs to acknowledge they are having concerns, and bring awareness to family and friends regarding their struggles and help communicate with them. Asking people to look at them while they talk, removing other sounds that might be distracting, and getting their attention first.
L: Listen: People with hearing loss and family both need to listen to each other, listen to what the frustrations are, listen to the needs of both sides and find a solution that meets everyone’s needs.