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Old 09-12-2019, 01:00 PM
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AndyG (Andy)
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Unhappy Hearing Aids - how to motivate their use?

Hello All,


I respectfully request some advice regarding the non-use of hearing aids by my elderly father. At 70 years old, and after various careers in the Army, RAAF Reserve and civvy industry, he is rather deaf. This deafness, coupled with poor mental health, has resulted in countless arguments, and a fractured family. I'll spare you all the details, but things came to a head this past weekend - and a new approach is required.

Around 2 years ago, with great generosity on behalf of the Government (DVA? Not sure), he was issued with $7000 worth of hearing assistance devices. None of these have been utilised, and the problems have only worsened.

I'm 95% sure that things will improve if he can hear what people say. His world will open up, and his paranoia of what others think/say will be put to rest.

If anyone here has experience in such a situation, I'd greatly appreciate any input. In this thread, or PMs are fine. I need practical ideas on improving patient compliance, and good habit forming around use of hearing aids.

Myself having some experience in AV audio DSPs, I'm following up on what can be done to mitigate the shortfalls of his model of hearing aid (configuration). I think a followup appointment with the Audiologist is in order, but this time with the Patient/family being informed of all the options.

I've since learned that the initial followup appointment with the Audiologist was pointless, as my Father essentially lied that things were going great with the new devices - truth is, they never came out of the box...

There are many reasons why a person would refuse management or treatment. None of these reasons he will share with us. Again, I'd appreciate any insight(s) on offer.

P.S. If you have hearing aids, yet refuse to use them, I implore you to talk with your loved ones about the effect of this decision from their perspective.
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Old 09-12-2019, 02:57 PM
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sil (Steve)
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Hmm, tricky one really. I'm seeking advice from a deaf coleague. But for myself having survived a traumatic brain injury TBI, I can understand his concerns somewhat as well as his reaction to you trying to force something on him for his own good.

So not sure how this post will go but its honest and not meant to be insulting in any way.

Firstly people meaning well trying to force treatment options on someone is highly insulting and is likely to be contributing to declining mental health. Having an option to take doesn't make it the right option. But effectiveness is extremely dependant on personal willpower (call it belief, call it placebo, call it misguided education or whatever) but the end result is if the person doesn't do it for themselves because they want to, its not going to be effective. Its not an on/off switch from disability to normality. Part of it is the social stigma which changes slowly with society changes so the impression he got of deaf people growing up from his family and peers may have firmly fixed his feeling (and it IS a feeling, so challenging it gets emotional and therefore damaging) on the topic.

So in the first instance you need to realise your approach is not productive, and reaching out I think you have already, just resist the temptation to repeat it. This is part of your experiences from family and peers that is ingrained in who you are. People rarely acknowledge negativity in themselves and is hard to combat.
I know an epiphany could help but thats something you can't predict or induce. Do you have access to people who have been close to him throughout life who may be able to help you understand what factors cause him to resist. They may or may not be capable of being overcome at this point. Was he a bully growing up and made fun of people with disabilities and now is worried about the tables being turned on him?

Dont try to reason with him as the brain does NOT work on logic naturally. Logic is a learned thing and if he has other brain issues onsetting logic is likely fragmented while his innner self is inside thinking clearly and screaming at you and himself but the signals arent making their way out along the proper paths.

Maybe interactions with others can help but don't drag him along and say here's a bunch of deaf blokes, see how normal they are. If he could interact positively with people with the more invisble hearing aides without knowing so it could come out naturally between them that could help him see the benefits. It could be he has othering hearing problems like a form of tinitus where an aide just amplifies the problem, maybe the deafness is the lesser of the evils. There may be physical pain with wearing the device. Its not as simple as non-sufferers assume. I suffered a stroke, which is traumatic brain injury and not just curable or treatable. TBI comes in many many forms and encompasses a huge range of symptoms and everyone has a unique combination of them to a unique degree and require unique approaches to try help. But one thing is certain without exception is nobody possibly comprehends what I live with 24/7 and what compromises I have to make to lose something to help reduce problems with something else. Its constant horror with not a single second to ever escape it, even trying to sleep is agony. So do not assume you can put yourself in his position, and can solve the problem, its not that simple but the wrong approach does cause more harm.

It could be that he feels isolated and alone because he isn't getting good social interaction, perhaps he thinks he can rely on you but you both only argue most of the time, so he's losing trust?

If he's really been diagnosed with other mental problems its the brain in decline. This is not something you take a pill for and can fix. But you can slow the degradation with exercise (use it or lose it) you could try doing jigsaw puzzles together or play scrabble or do crosswords. things to get the brain working and neuroplasticity can reinforce weakening neural pathways or create new ones where breaks have occured. Its a constant process not an hour a week or day, the brain needs long term workouts. Learning can be both good and bad things, the brain can't be told to choose which so if he's sitting alone all day and only gets an hour a day with you for example and you mostly argue then his brain will learn to associate you with bad things. So if you can spend good time being positive and co-operative doing something you both enjoy he could gain trust back. Likewies if you are indulging his requests like getting a drink from the fridge when he is more than capable of doing that himself then his brain could learn that he can't fetch a drink and just always expect others will do it for them. He basically teaches himself he's useless. Which is why his willpower is the only thing that will help, if he's not willing to fight for himself we can't improve.

I do suggest you contact any local blind societies etc and find out about counsellors that can help with this whole problem for ways for the patient and the family to understand and work towards a better quality of life. You do not have to do this alone or blindly, its common and something I have seen a lot in the past few years between various sufferers and their families. There is also a ton of red tape processes that can be dangerous as they sounded right once to some beaurocrat but in practice don't work. So your expectations may not be realistic but also if you're unwilling to be positive and productive then the end result can not be as good as possible.

I repeat none of this is meant to offend so please don't take it as such. I do speak from experience of my own disability, the stigmas, how I'm treated and how enforced help has caused huge damage and how little help out there there really is and how isolated and helpless I am. It's not a rare situation either. It really sucks to be stuck without a path of hope to follow. Only you know your situation, only your father knows his and maybe non of my advice is of use to you at all. Like people diagnosing medical ailments from a website is never the correct approach and not knowing specifics of his condition its all I can suggest, but I do recommend contacting a blindness society or similar in your area for advice, they can point you towards the best people to talk with on how to approach the problem. Of course you may have already tried the official channels and now grasping at straws, but I hope not. Its hard to know where to start a lot of times to ask. Audiologists deal with hearing aides so you could look them up too to ask. Even if someone just hands you a pamphlet you should pay attention to it, I know it feel insulting but the medical pamphlets these days have been good at giving me starting points for various thing I wanted to know more about or get help with. Maybe the equipment you have isn't suitable but more recent innovations might be like bone conductive necklace style headphones. follow the options to find solutions that he could use don't impose budget into the equation, find the solution first and figure money crap later. Like it or not, health care costs what is costs and insurers go to great lengths to pay out a single dollar. For myself the link in my sig is to funbd raise to try to get to the only realistic treatment that exists on this planet for someone with my exact set of TBI symptoms. The logstics of getting accepted and travel makes it far beyond any chance I can raise the money on my own. I don't push it on people like most people with similar campaigns. Its just the reality of my situation and I accept I won't likely get treatment before I'm dead. So find all current and emerging options for your dad, try to see if you can reach his reasons for refusal and if they can be overcome. Break it down to one step at a time and just deal with the money one step at a time. Hell there may be a parametric speaker device to help, These are directional speakers, I have one at home as a technophile and yes you can only hear the audio when sitting in the path of the beam an silence when I move, its a bit screechy though, not exactly audiophile sound quality but interesting technology which may have been used to develop a hearing aide without the aide. There are also products that are like headphones or earbuds like Here Active Listening from Doppler Labs which can test your hearingand makes adjustments to incoming sounds to give you a clearer more natural sound.
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Old 09-12-2019, 03:08 PM
glend (Glen)
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Well Andy, I am going through the same thing, but from your father's perspective. I am 70, and have lost some of my hearing (most likely through years of boat building using power tools and no ear protection). But it runs in my family too. The government does provide hearing aids to pensioners with confirmed hearing loss. There is a protocol to go through, but you can also be trapped by those folks outside the hearing shops in the Mall, who are drumming up business. My two adult children have been at me for years to get a hearing aid, as they apparently talk to me but I don't hear what they say.
So I went along with them, went through the process, and actually invested some of my own money to get a better device. The standard hearing aid provided by the government is pretty bad, it doesn't offer any of the band management filtering that the better devices provide. Trust me wearing a stock budget device is not a pleasant experience, particularly in crowded noisy environments, where you can get overwhelmed by the amplification of background noise. Even though I have a good quality device, I rarely wear it, usually only when I am visiting my daughter and her family Sydney, and that is to keep the peace.
I see it this way:
It is my choice whether I wear it or not, and since I live alone there is no one to get upset if I don't hear them. So what if I have the TV turned up louder, or enjoy the quiet of a drive in the car (I will hear sirens), or simply choose to ignore the inane chatter of coffee shop clients. It can be seen as a blessing to escape the background noise of modern society. And I do not like being told what to do at 70.
My suggestion is to stop pushing him, let him decide when and where he uses it.
PS, I have five grand-daughters and have no trouble hearing them, that is my benchmark.
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Old 09-12-2019, 03:54 PM
raymo
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I am in my eighties, and have pretty severe industrial deafness. I was
issued hearing aids, but they only served to introduce me to all manner
of extraneous noises that drowned out the things that I actually needed to hear. I trialled a more expensive pair that were tuned to my needs, but found them little better, so my life is now a trial, as I have to ask for almost everything to be repeated, often more than once, which often irritates the speaker. Are you sure your father hasn't tried them somewhere private
[because of embarrassment maybe], and decided that he didn't like them for whatever reason?
raymo
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:38 PM
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AndyG (Andy)
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Thankyou so much all, for your wisdom, time, and effort. At the expense of sounding presumptuous, the quality and care taken in these replies is exactly what I expected from this good place. The details were a total surprise however, as I am totally lost in this situation - I now have something to work with.

I'm at a bit of a disadvantage to elaborate in my responses, as it would not be right to refer to the specifics of somebody's health situation in public without permission. I can say however, that each individual reply contains a specific truth.

To Steve (Sil), absolutely no offense taken. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and 30+ years of this problem puts any solution on the table.

I understand my Old Man's right to self determination. I'd expect no less myself. Even at 40, I realise my young children outdo me in energy for boundless play. So the introduction of the gulf between myself, and the perfectly healthy is becoming evident. Naturally, it can only go downhill until my enevitable death. As others (via PM) have taught, with his background, he is (internally) bulletproof, and this gulf is either unrealised, or impossible to face.

Unfortunately it becomes difficult to accept when his torment (is that the right word?) leads to abuse of others and sometimes violence. Like many things, they start out small, and snowball. I want to give him his own space and time to decide this, until I remember that my Mother has to live with him in the same house (and she's been miserable for it since I can remember).

Back to the positive/solutions mindset, I should mention some small details. Indeed, standard prescription hearing aids are possibly equivilent to generic reading glasses from the chemist. Not much fun. Glen, you have reminded me that indeed, he did invest in a more advanced model for those very reasons you describe. My knowledge of his attitude makes me think that he was perhaps too passive during the Audiologist's appointment. He tends to simply agree with the first offering put forth, in the face of an industry expert. He'll argue with a peer on anything, but co-operates without question when someone holds a certificate on the matter. In short, it's likely his wiz-bang devices are not sufficiently tuned.

Everyone's help has gotten me thinking in new ways... What of this approach: Finding a trusted friend of his (who is NOT family), and seeing if they can encourage him for another audiologists visit... Hopefully getting it right, and putting $7k of hearing aids to their full potential. The point being that he properly engages with the professional trying to help him. Introducing the understanding that only his perception of sound is sufficient to callibrate the unit, and achieve success.

There are many points mentioned by you all which I have not fully digested. Of course, I will read them all again tonight. Once more, thankyou all for your kindness and effort.

Andy.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:02 PM
Dennis
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My Father-in-law is 94 and has not used his various hearing aids as he "finds them useless" and he has been reluctant to visit Hearing Aid Centres to find a solution.

As an experiment, I purchased a "Pocket Talker Pro" for him and he will use that with a little gentle nudge. When we take him out now, we need to remind him to take it with him which he mostly does, and it has become so much more rewarding to communicate with him.

We still communicate in bursts rather than flowing conversations, but the device has been extremely useful when visiting Drs, Dentists, shopping, etc.

USA website

Brisbane Supplier website

I think I paid approx. Au $380.00.

When he puts on the headphones, it effectively drowns out the outside noise so he can more clearly hear us as we speak into the mike.

In a small group situation, we place the mike unit on the table and make sure we speak to it so he can hear us.

Cheers

Dennis
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:28 PM
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GrahamL
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Im 57 and have had hearing loss most of my life its got much worse in recent years and I ignored family to do something about it for quite a while .


At a training course laast year a work colleague spoke to me at the end she works with hearing impaired and picked me winging through the course without hearing much at all.



Long story short i now have hearing aids .


mine can be volume controlled through a phone app and arnt the big dollar ones



Day 1-7 of first having them was terrible , I dont know the overload on the brain was pretty extreme I would bet your dad tried them and maybe tried them again but couldn't deal with the extra noise .


I have just started wearing them to work one year on



I would suggest wearing them round home at first with conversations

with just a few people .


Shopping centres no way , same as the beach or other noisy places or big groups of people (x mass can be tough ) and go from there .


They do a great job but they really do need a little tolerance from others as well in that some situations arnt great for them you will get the finger , maybe not literally, if you push this one .
I still get why arnt you wearing them regularly ?



regards
graham
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:33 PM
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The_bluester (Paul)
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From my mum's experience (With progressive hearing loss over about 15 years and eventually, two cochlear implants) firstly putting them on to begin with and then any time they are re mapped, the first couple of weeks seemed to be a terrible experience for her with everything being very loud and intrusive.


Time and patience and him having the will to get the best out of them I think are the key. Unfortunately after a decade in the RAAF, working in a noisy environment I will be lucky to get to 55 before I will undeniably need them. I know my hearing is quite ordinary for my age but it is tolerable at the moment, but barring some medical breakthrough, it won't be getting better without some mechanical assistance.
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Old 10-12-2019, 07:27 AM
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multiweb (Marc)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raymo View Post
Are you sure your father hasn't tried them somewhere private
[because of embarrassment maybe], and decided that he didn't like them for whatever reason?
raymo
That's a very good point. I get cranky with my mother in law when she doesn't want to use her walking stick because "her friends think it's not cool".
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