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home : features : features July 27, 2015


10/20/2013 6:00:00 AM
Tips for hard of hearing people in a medical setting
Special to the Courier


Very often, deaf or hard of hearing patients leave a doctor's appointment unsure of what they have found out during the visit..

"When I have had my visits with medical staff and personnel, the most common things and concerns were that of getting the doctors, dentists and nurses to face me when they talked to me, instead of looking at the charts or filling out forms," said Prescott resident Jack Clevenger, who is hearing impaired.

"If they are wearing a face mask, I ask that they pull it down so that I can speech-read what they are saying. Most of the time, the medical personnel have been cooperative, and the concern lies more with my being assertive enough to make the requests for the medical staff to face me so that I can understand what it is that I need to know about my health and well-being or what I need to do."

Following is some information that Clevenger provided, prepared by Beth Wilson, who was president of the Rhode Island Self Help for the Hard of Hearing in 1999. The group is now known as the Hearing Loss Association of America. The complete list of her tips for the hearing impaired who visit doctors, dentists, the hospital or other healthcare services is available at www.nchhearingloss.org/programs.htm.

Things one can do as a person with hearing loss when visiting the doctor:

Describe your hearing loss

*Write notes on the forms you fill out.

*Ask the receptionist to make a special note on your file.

Include specifics

• "I hear low tones."

• "I do okay if I can lipread the speaker."

Offer suggestions

• "Things are easier if I am in a quiet bright room."

• "I need people to face me when they speak."

• "I can't lipread someone wearing a mask."

Strategies in the waiting room

• Alert everyone you are hard of hearing AND cannot hear your name called.

• Ask for written directions: What, Where, Who.

• My problem is "not what I don't hear" but what I think I did hear - please make us both feel better by writing it down.

Meeting the doctor

• Take charge of the exchange early. Be ready to explain your hearing loss immediately.

• Explain that you will not hear a knock, offer to open the door slightly when ready for the doctor to examine you.

• Ask for written directions. Confirm what your doctor has told you, and if you don't understand, ask him to write it down for you. Do not leave until you understand everything.

The most important thing to remember is to not hide your hearing loss or deafness. If you do not participate fully in the discussion about your healthcare, then your visit to the medical setting will be the same as taking your pet to the vet. You will be forcing the doctor to make judgments based only on their observations (not yours) and a shot will be an unwelcome surprise.

Offer strategies for what helps you to communicate. You can't expect the medical staff that you encounter to know right away what to do and you are the best source of solutions for YOU. Be firm about your needs because communication in this setting is very important.

For more information about this article or about hearing loss in the Prescott communities or about the Hearing Loss Association of America-Prescott Chapter, contact Jack Clevenger at HLAofPrescott@yahoo.com or call (928) 227-1809. The Prescott chapter meets from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays of every other month in the Prescott Gateway Mall Community Room. The next meeting will be Saturday, Oct. 26, and will feature Connie Short from the Arizona Relay Service, a statewide telecommunication service for the deaf and hard of hearing. Meetings ae captioned to enhance participation and discussion. The public is welcome, and there is no charge.


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