by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady wrote:
My mother has been losing her hearing for quite some time now. We have to speak very loud in order for her to hear us. She has tried various hearing aids and sound magnifiers (for church), but she is very frustrated because they don’t quite do the job. At 89 I don’t think she is a candidate for surgery. I told her that maybe she is at the point that nothing is going to help her because the hearing mechanics in her ear are gone. Of course she feels left out of things and is beginning to withdraw a little.
The first question I have is what are her discrimination (word recognition) scores? I’m thinking that the reason amplification isn’t giving the level of success you would expect is that she can’t understand what she hears, even when speech is amplified to her most comfortable level. In other words she has poor discrimination.
If this is so, then amplification alone isn’t the answer. Real time captioning (CART) at church and meetings would help her far more than amplification in this case.
As you already know, trying to hear in groups and family gatherings is largely a waste of time for her. However, all is not lost. She does not have to be left out. The secret is to converse with her one-to-one in a quiet location. Conversation under these conditions can still be quite effective if she is close to the speaker (nose-to-nose so to speak) so she can both speechread a bit and hear a bit).