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My Patient Isn’t Wearing His Hearing Aids! What Do I DO?

Not using hearing aids

My Patient Isn’t Wearing His Hearing Aids! What Do I DO?

As hearing healthcare professionals, we always hope that our patients follow our advice when it comes to wearing their hearing aids. With that being said, there will always be some patients who return to you and admit to no longer wearing them or to wearing them inconsistently. As an Audiology Assistant, you will play a key role in getting them back in the routine of using to amplification regularly. If a patient tells you they are no longer wearing their hearing aids, the most important question you can ask in return is “why not?” Let’s go over some potential reasons they may give and how you can respond:

“I can never get them in my ears!”

The answer to this one is simple: practice makes perfect. I’d suggest first having the patient show you how they attempt to get the hearing aids in their ears. Watching them closely will help you identify either errors in their process or ways that they can make insertion easier. Be sure to give them lots of encouragement! Figuring out how to properly insert hearing aids can be tricky and frustrating. Once they get the hang of it though, it becomes second nature. Telling stories of how other patients have persisted and figured it out will help, too. One of my favorite stories is of one of my favorite patients. Let’s call her Winnie. She’s blind and has arthritis. She was being fit with her first pair of hearing aids at age 88. Getting used to hearing aids is one thing. Figuring out this little tiny apparatus and how to fit it in your ear is something else entirely! Winnie had a great attitude though, and attitude is everything. After describing the hearing aid, letting her feel it in her hand and trying several different ways of getting them in her ears, she did it! And she’s been a successful hearing aid wearer since. So when patients tell me, “I just can’t get them in,” I say, “You know, I have a patient named Winnie. She’s blind and has arthritis. We figured out how to make it work for her. If she can do it, you can, too.”

“The hearing aids are uncomfortable.”

This one will take a bit more questioning on your part. Are they uncomfortable due to the physical fit? Or due to certain sounds they are listening to that are uncomfortable? If the answer is the latter, what sounds are causing discomfort? If the answer is physical fit issues, then take a close look at how they are fitting in and on the ears. Check to see if they are getting them inserted properly and fully. If it’s a BTE, thin tube or RIC check the length of the tubing or receiver wire as it may be too short. It’s possible that the fix to this problem is out of your control (i.e. reprogramming of the hearing aids or modifications to the ear molds are needed). If that’s the case, take the next step to get the patient scheduled to see their audiologist.

“They’re just not working.”

If your patient says their hearing aids aren’t working, do a check of the hearing aids to make sure they are functioning appropriately. Hopefully it’s as simple as a clogged tube or some other explanation as to why the hearing aid has stopped working. It’s possible that the hearing aid may truly be dead and in need of repair by the manufacturer.

“I don’t feel like I need them.”

It’s possible that your patient’s environments have changed since getting the hearing aids so their hearing loss may be less apparent to them. But regardless, they have a hearing loss that can benefit from hearing aids. Remind them of the benefits of easier listening such as less strain to hear, less fatigue, and easier communication with friends and family. If a quick discussion doesn’t seem to get you anywhere, it may be best to suggest a new hearing test. I’ve said, “Mr. Jones, I’ve never seen a case of spontaneous recovery with hearing loss. But you may just be the first! Let’s check and see what’s happening!” Having the patient see the audiologist is a great way to help them feel heard and lets the audiologist counsel the patient again on all of the great reasons to wear hearing aids if there is a known hearing loss.

It’s likely you’ll be able to add to this list of reasons with your day-to- day experience. Getting your patient’s to wear their hearing aids can be challenging at times but in the end, they will thank you for it.

Have any suggestions for helping patients to wear their hearing aids? Send them my way! I’d love to hear your stories.

Dr. Kingham

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