I didn’t come back for Part 2 as soon as I intended. A little hurricane called Irene got in the way. Family, friends, and structures came through fine so now it’s time to get back to the topic at hand. Remember how I talked about individual variability in hearing aid fittings? Well, there’s individual variability in the entire hearing care process, from test results, to ear anatomy, to communication needs, to goal development, to… You get the picture.
A good audiologist looks at you as an individual. I start with your hearing test results to develop a general idea of what might work well for you. Then I fine-tune my considerations with an assessment of what you, the client, want to accomplish with regard to hearing improvement. There are various ways to do this but I like to use a form called the Client Oriented Scale of Improvement (COSI). I ask clients to tell me about the people, places, and situations that cause problems with communication. One example might be “I can’t understand the conversation when there are other groups talking around me.” We turn this around into a goal: “I want to understand the conversation when there are other groups talking around me.”
This process of turning problem situations into goals should reveal the situations the client considers most important. Sometimes the goal development process uncovers expectations that may not be reasonable, such as, “I want to hear my wife from the other room when the TV is on.” This sort of goal allows me to provide counseling regarding strategies the client can use in that situation.
After the client has developed several goals ( I like to see at least three) we use those goals to select the technology that will best help them meet their goals. Sometimes their goals suggest a solution that includes other technology in addition to hearing aids. One of the most popular accessories in recent years is a device that allows both ears to hear a cell phone conversation. Every time I’ve fit hearing aids that include this device the client has been astounded at how well they can hear on their cell.
The best possible hearing is achieved when hearing aids are a part of a comprehensive hearing solution that includes needed accessories and counseling regarding realistic expectations, communication strategies, and other topics.
We’re not done yet! In Best Possible Hearing, Part 3, I’ll discuss what should happen after the hearing aids arrive.