UofM Hosts “Demystifying Hearing Healthcare” and Adult Audiological Rehabilitation Group

Research has shown that most individuals with hearing loss wait at least ten years before seeking care from an audiologist. Recently, Eileen Smith, Au.D., Jennifer Taylor, Au.D., and a hearing aid representative were discussing hearing loss, treatment misconceptions, and the reluctance to pursue hearing healthcare. As a result of that conversation, student clinicians McKenzie Young Sandroni, Alise Holloway, Katie Ladner, and Tori Wolfe are providing patient education to ‘demystify hearing healthcare’ through MSHC’s audiological rehabilitation clinic.

 According to Sandroni, the lead facilitator, the goal of the sessions is “to educate the public on what hearing healthcare is, to [help them] understand what their options are when seeking treatment, and to show them they are not alone in their hearing loss journey. Having accessible information can make a huge difference for those needing hearing healthcare.” When asked why it is important to demystify hearing healthcare, Smith states, we must “provide fact-based information so individuals become better advocates for themselves and loved ones.” The students present information on several topics, including statistics of hearing loss, the latest research on comorbidities, common experiences of individuals with hearing loss, amplification options, where to seek treatment, and more.

Smith explains, “Healthcare implies a partnership between the individual and provider to improve communication and quality of life.” Audiologists and student clinicians at the University of Memphis have made it their priority to foster this partnership, allowing the patients to be the drivers of their hearing healthcare. Improving access to information through the Demystifying Hearing Healthcare session is just one of the ways that the University of Memphis audiology program is supporting patients.

Following the Demystifying Hearing Healthcare sessions, participants will be invited to attend the adult audiological rehabilitation (AR) group, which is offered to MSHC patients for three weeks, following the adoption of hearing aids. According to Jennifer Taylor, Au.D., the University of Memphis audiology program “has always believed in audiological rehabilitation as a foundation to better hearing healthcare.” This group allows patients to “learn from and support each other” while also learning communication strategies that help them use their new devices.

Tori Wolfe, the lead facilitator for the first adult AR session, states, “In the first session, we explore the common communication difficulties that the participants experience, learn problem-solving techniques, and discuss strategies for improving communication in noisy situations.”

 Alise Holloway leads session two in which difficulties commonly experienced when conversing in the home and conversing with difficult to understand speakers will be discussed. She will provide participants with strategies to ease difficulties in these situations.

Katie Ladner, the lead facilitator for the final session, will discuss difficulties listening to signals other than speech, the importance of concentrating on the signal of interest when listening, and the value of visual information to increase understanding. Ladner hopes that individuals leaving her session will “have access to new, real-world applicable skills to improve their communication and increase their connection with their friends and loved ones.”

Graduate clinicians and audiology clinical faculty at the Memphis Speech and Hearing Center are excited to provide these services to the community to expand the understanding and importance of hearing healthcare, as well as the importance of audiological rehabilitation following the adoption of hearing aids.