When We Think “Adult Patients,” Do We Also Think “Family”?

Kris English, Ph.D.
Kris English, PhD

The University of Akron

Whether we scan our bookshelves, review our folders, or – more likely – enter keywords in a search engine, we are likely to find the terms “family” and “hearing loss” almost exclusively associated with children and their parents. Interestingly, apart from a few exceptions (e.g., the National Council on Aging), adult patients with hearing loss are not immediately linked to the context of family. We have valuable information on the role of our adult patients’ communication partners (e.g., Preminger & Lind, 2012), but it seems important to point out that family means far more than communication. Historically, family has also meant moral, financial, and logistical support, “a feeling of belonging … honesty, trust and unconditional love.

Perhaps audiology has paid little attention to what it means to serve adult patients in a family context because we assume it is a “given.” However, some recent research indicates we should give this topic deeper consideration, and not take our practices for granted.

By “Family,” We Mean …45891913_s

Families are universal in all cultures, but definitions vary widely. A simple, popular, and inclusive definition is “two or more people who consider and define themselves as a family.” Another inclusive definition is “any group of intimates with a history and a future” (Ransom & Vandervoort, 1973). Biological and legal ties are traditional but not required. It is likely all readers know of someone who was “adopted” as a cousin or aunt or brother because of long-standing involvement and support that transcended simple friendship. To be “considered family” when not actually related is usually accepted as a high honor.

How Families Function

We can’t be expected to become family experts, especially since even experts contend that “Every family is the same. Every family is different.” By definition, though, families are generally interconnected and interdependent: in other words, what affects one family member to some degree influences the unit. Regarding health care, it has long been observed that families shape patients’ beliefs and attitudes about health, lifestyle, and health care (Lipkin, 1996), and that families often help patients make decisions about how and when to seek health care, take medications, follow prescribed diets, etc. (Jecker, 1990; Reust & Mattingly, 1996).


(I know you are speaking, but what are you saying?)

When the health problem is a hearing loss, interconnectedness again comes into play. Hearing loss directly interferes with interconnectedness; when a loved one starts missing out on family life, it matters to family members to obtain help. In a very real sense, hearing loss is a family problem.



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Ear To the Ground: The Value of a Patient’s Story

sundarGirija_audGirija Sundar, PhD

Salus University

As a clinical audiologist for over 25 years or so, I have encountered numerous people with hearing loss, only to conclude that this is not a homogeneous group. What differentiates each patient is his or her unique story; fortunately for us, if we allow the story to unfold, we will learn how to help. Here is an example:

One of my patients described a get-together in the family. He has three children and five grandchildren. They had all arrived from different parts of the northeast, and he had not seen them together in some time. Once the entire clan was in the dining room, everything (chairs, cutlery, plates, people, mouths) was in constant motion. The dining table was the only thing that did not move.

My patient’s eyes could not quite keep up with the pace of activity; dependent on the visible word, his social encounters were manageable when limited to roomful of one or two people, and he’d developed his own strategies to cope with his hearing loss in simple listening conditions. But too many people in one room with the scattered sources of sounds left him unnerved.41785891_s

Sounds blended together in a din, and he retreated into the sanctuary of his study, leaving his dinner unfinished (the need for respite, per Clark & English, 2014). He could not tolerate the blurring of words; he could not participate or even observe. The very people he loved seemed insufferable and tiresome. His retreat, however, was misconstrued by his grown children and created quite a bit of tension in the following days. His wife’s observation of the possibility of hearing loss being at the root of this behavior allowed the rest of the family members to somewhat understand this gentleman, and upon his daughter’s insistence he decided to seek some help.

He was quite forthright when I asked him what made him see an audiologist at this particular time. Although in the beginning he only wanted a hearing test, routine questions regarding his communication difficulties brought his real story: he felt an alienation from his family.

He often had to imagine what they might be saying. “No one wants to listen or take the time to listen. Going out with people you comfortably socialized with has become something of an ordeal…it is claustrophobic; when you are in the middle of a group of people and cannot participate in the conversation, it is as though the people around you suffocate you. You know what I mean?”

I asked him if he wanted hearing aids. He did not: he only wanted to know if he had bad hearing loss. The answer told me my patient did not yet realize himself that the issue was his hearing problem (unique to him and his life), not his audiometric hearing loss. Because I understood his story, I could help him make the connection between his hearing problem and the alienation that had been hurting him so much.


Clark JG & English, K. (2014). Counseling-infused audiologic care. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.


The Most Important Instrument in Audiology

Kris English, Ph.D.Kris English, PhD

The University of Akron

From 1999-2009, I had the opportunity to teach an online course in counseling for audiologists earning an AuD through the Central Michigan University/Bill Wilkerson Center Vanderbilt University distance education program. It seems hard to believe now, but when the AuD program started, many enrollees had little experience with email, so to get the ball rolling, the first assignment was to complete the Keirsey temperament questionnaire and email me the results (Rational, Artisan, Idealist, or Guardian).  My goal was two-fold: (1) to jump-start the “know thyself” reflection process and (2) to help students become familiar with my email address.  I wasn’t looking for any trends, but … take a look:

graphTen years and 25 semesters later, with results from 390 audiologists (all with Master’s degrees and an average of 15 years experience), the summative data show a very strong tendency toward Guardian temperaments (82% in the middle bar, compared to 40% in the general population on the left). Since then, I have posed the same assignment to AuD graduate students (from 2008 to 2015, right hand bar), and have also frequently asked attendees at workshops to spend 10 minutes on this exercise, with very similar results. For instance, among 27 practitioners in a recent workshop, our results were 0% Rationals, 15% Artisans, 15% Idealists, and 70% Guardians.

“Knowing Thyself” Stimulated Change

Of course, this exercise does not represent rigorous science, but it does give us food for thought. We would expect certain temperaments to be drawn to some professions more than others. For information on each temperament, visit the Keirsey website; specific to our topic, we learn that Guardians:

  • Are given to service and preserving social institutions
  • Have a natural talent in managing goods and services
  • Keep things running smoothly in families, communities, schools, churches, hospitals, businesses
  • Take pride in being dependable and trustworthy
  • Believe in law and order… honoring customs and traditions … following the rules and cooperating with others…
  • Are meticulous about schedules and have a sharp eye for proper procedures

Keirseysource: https://www.keirsey.com/aboutkts2.aspx

The four Keirsey Temperaments are aligned with Myers-Briggs results in the table above. A Guardian can be further categorized as Supervisor, Inspector, Provider, or Protector: in other words, someone who assumes responsibility for people and things.

At first I took these results with the proverbial grain of salt, but an intriguing pattern kept occurring. By mid-semester, the distance learners would begin to wonder if their “Guardian natures” interfered with patient counseling. They generally agreed that the Guardian characteristics matched their self-perceptions, but in the context of audiology, perhaps being someone who “assumes responsibility of people and things” was actually a problem.

The question that generated the most discussion was a simple one: “Who owns this hearing loss?”  Distance learners (“don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything”) wanted the answer to be “the audiologist owns the hearing loss” by virtue of education and expertise. This premise is probably not unusual: Palmer (1998) contends that “Virtually all professionals have been deformed by the myth that we serve our clients best by taking up all the space with our hard-won omniscience” (p. 132).

But subsequent discussions about patient autonomy and the difference between compliance and adherence challenged assumptions of ownership. If we have been “deformed by the myth” that we own hearing loss, then we effectively assume all responsibility to help, putting the patient in a passive role. However, we have enough experience and evidence to know that this approach is ineffective. Patients, of course, own their hearing loss, and improving their situation ultimately depends on their decisions, not ours. It does seem likely that the Guardian temperament can assume too much responsibility and in fact interfere with patient outcomes.

Thus challenged, Guardians bravely explored patient trust, the evidence relating communication styles to patient outcomes (Zolnierek & DiMatteo, 2009), shared decision-making, and health care partnerships – none of which require a Supervisor, Inspector, Provider, or Protector! Their willingness to step out of their comfort zones and test out new ways to “be” with their patients spoke volumes.

The Most Important Instrument…YesYou

… in audiology is not the otoscope; it’s the person holding the otoscope (you/me/us). In a typically hectic day, it can be easy to forget this maxim of health care: “The most therapeutic instrument is the self”  (Charon, 2001, p. 1899). All instruments require regular calibration, and we are no exception: we must routinely monitor our assumptions, the impact of our words and body language, our presence in the room, our willingess to share ownership (and its implied power) of a patient’s problems. We do bring training and experience to each patient encounter, but we also bring OURSELVES: our temperament as well our commitment and values.  From these intangibles, patients decide whether we are worthy of their trust.


Charon, R. (2001). Narrative medicine: A model of empathy, reflection, profession and trust. JAMA, 286(15), 1897-1902.

Palmer, P. J. (1998).  The courage to teach.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Zolnierek, K.B., & DiMatteo, M.R. (2009). Physician communication and patient adherence to treatment: A meta-analysis. Medical Care, 47, 826–834.

Parents Teaching Students

Vasil AAAKara Vasil, Class of 2016

The University of Akron/NOAC

Picture this: You are in the sound booth, right in the middle of an audiologic assessment. A few missed head turns or latent ABR waves in, you realize that maybe these parents’ fear has been realized, and their child has a hearing loss. They’ve sat in your office, putting the puzzle pieces together of the child’s birth history, medical complications, and behaviors in the home. You now have concrete evidence, in the form of behavioral testing, an ABR, OAE’s, or whatever it may be. Now it is time to break the news to these parents that their child has a hearing impairment. Whether they are expecting it or not, you, the audiologist, have a job to do.

Despite coursework in pediatrics, counseling, and aural rehabilitation, many graduate student clinicians have never been in this situation. Even when evaluating pediatric patients of all ages and walks of life, the majority have not yet concretely identified and reported to parents a permanent, sensorineural hearing loss. As many clinicians would agree, I do not believe this is a skill that can be taught solely in the classroom. Some may feel that there has been a barrier between the clinician and the parent – what is appropriate to say, and what are these parents thinking about when they leave the office and return home with their child?

Learning from the True Experts

This past semester, that barrier crumbled a bit. In a pediatric amplification course, my professor, Dr. Mark Krumm, brought in four parents of children with hearing loss. These parents were all from the local area and had met in a support group. Their children had sensorineural hearing loss of varying degrees and were treated with hearing aids and cochlear implants, technology that I consider myself quite familiar with. However, one thing I do know is that it’s not about the technology. Hearing these parents’ testimonials about their relationships with their audiologists, their children, and their families was a truly eye-opening experience. The experience reminded my entire class that the parents of our pediatric patients are trying their best and have heartfelt compassion for their kids, and, no surprise – they know their children a whole lot better than we do. These parents know what makes their children tick, they know what the technology will and will not accomplish in their home, and they also probably know their audiologist’s cell phone number for when they will inevitably need it. 

The parents who visited my class talked about the desire for a trusting, collaborative relationship with their audiologist, with referral to the appropriate professionals when we just don’t have all of the answers. An article published in the American Journal of Audiology confirmed these statements; parents and caregivers want their voices to be heard, and they want their child’s treatment implemented in a coordinated and professional manner. Fitzpatrick, et al. (2008) interviewed 21 parents about the strengths and weaknesses of the standard audiologic care system. Although most parents were satisfied with the range of services provided and the quality of services, they did have a few suggestions for us to consider. Family-centered care and a high level of support have been linked with higher rates of follow-up, better participation in early intervention services, and ultimately improved outcomes for the child.

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Gradual Hearing Loss and Sensemaking


Kris English, Ph.D.Kris English, PhD

The University of Akron

Recently, a friend described how her grown son currently chooses to be homeless. She doesn’t know how to find him, and doesn’t know how he manages. Needless to say, she is worried sick. Looking back, she now recognizes the early signs of mental health problems during his teen years, but at the time, she didn't recognize them as such. After all, it's not unusual for teens to be rebellious, non-communicative, disorganized, or moody. As any parent would, she applied what she knew in general about adolescence to make sense of her son's decisions and actions; only when her explanations no longer made sense (this is not how teens typically act) did she feel ready to consider broader, more complicated explanations and seek help. The diagnosis of mental health problems was a first step toward making sense of a profoundly unfamiliar situation.

Most adults approach life’s uncertainties in the same way: we experience something we don't fully understand and start by working through “what we know.” Our car makes a funny noise so we look under the hood. We notice a new ache or pain, and make changes in our diet or environment (maybe more exercise?). Our computer freezes so we turn it off, count to ten, and turn it back on. In doing so, we are applying the sensemaking process, which helps us understand a change or shift in our world. If that process fails us, we consider taking the next step of asking someone for help.

Although much of audiologic counseling focuses on emotional and psychological reactions to hearing loss, our patients of course are also decision-making individuals whose minds seek logic, facts, and answers that make sense. Here we will consider how the sensemaking process applies to our patients as they ask for our help.

It Might Look Like Denial

Sensemaking in health literature is often applied to the diagnosis of a life-altering disease or disability (e.g., Pakenham, 2008), as in “why is this happening to me?” and “what will become of me?” Acquired hearing loss is certainly a life-altering condition, and both patients and audiologists attempt to make sense of it. We understand our role: in our initial encounter with a new patient, we begin with the query, “What brings you here today?” to help us understand the patient’s concerns, and then we test. However, we may not understand that the patient is also striving to make sense of this appointment. For many patients, a gradual hearing loss does not yet make sense, as reflected in these remarks: 

  • My family says I can’t hear them – but that can't be true because I definitely hear them complain!
  • People speak too fast these days.
  • It’s not my hearing, it’s the background music on TV that’s the problem.
  • How can anyone be expected to hear in such noisy restaurants? They used to be quieter.

Gill et al. (2010) describe these types of comments as “candidate explanations,” offered to convey a patient’s efforts to make sense of the situation. However, we may be inclined to interpret these comments as denial (or stubborness, embarrassment, suspicion) instead of reasonable efforts to understand a problem based on what the patient currently knows: that one's hearing seems to be generally adequate.

What patients don't yet know is their actual hearing status. How we go about informing them can support the sensemaking process.

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Audiology and End of Life

headshot for AACLaura Rickey, Class of 2017

The University of Akron/NOAC

First, I would like to share the story that inspired me to write about this topic. Dr. Kristina English shared it with me after a hearing screening. The story is as follows,

A family had been given the news that their grandmother’s illness had received every available tr eatment, and it was now time to think about keeping her comfortable in hospice care.  The patient had been a hearing aid user in the past but while managing several recent emergencies, the family realized the hearing aids were lost.  Now that the grandmother’s pain was under control, she wanted to talk to every one of her beloved family members — although she could talk, she couldn’t hear their responses.  So the family found the audiologist who had fit the most recent set of hearing aids and asked for help.  New hearing aids were quickly provided and the family made full use of them, sharing memories and stories, and laughter and tears with the grandmother for as long as she was able.  The time did not last long, however, and she peacefully passed away 10 days later.  The audiologist was contacted about her passing and also the memorial service.  She told the family she would arrange for a refund, but they declined.  They reported that they “got more than their money’s worth” in those 10 days, and they would rather have the audiologist hold on the devices for other families who could use the same kind of help.  The audiologist followed their wishes, and has lent the devices to other families in the same end-of-life situation. The devices are lightly engraved with the words, “Use with Love.”

After hearing this extremely powerful story relating to the end of life and audiology, I decided to try and find out more about this topic. I came to find that there is very little information in the literature about the end of life and audiology. This came as a surprise to me, as audiologists serve a population with whom the end of life topic must be considered. This got me wondering if, as professionals concerned with communication, are we focusing most of our interests on early life, and possibly negating a very important part of life, that is death? In the book, Death and Dying, Life and Living (Corr & Corr, 2013), the idea is shared that death is a very important part, if not one of the most important parts of individual’s life. There is absolutely no doubt it is important to make sure that children receive auditory input as soon as possible, but are we focusing so much on this aspect of audiology that we are forgetting about other times in life that communication is of the utmost importance? Is it possible that the first few moments, weeks or years are just as important as the last? Do audiologist have a place in end-of life care? Is it ethical to recommend amplification at the end of and individual’s life? These are all questions that, in my opinion, need answers.

Do we Have a Place in End-of-Life Care?19278970_s

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (2011), hospice provides expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support not only for the patient, but also for the patient’s loved ones. Hospice care involves an interdisciplinary team of specialists including; the patient’s primary physician, hospice physician or medical director, nurses, home health aides, social workers, bereavement counselors, clergy or other spiritual counselors, trained volunteers, and physical, occupational, and speech therapists (Toner & Shadden, 2012), if necessary. Audiologists are not currently listed as interdisciplinary team members for hospice and palliative care, but should we be?

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“Can I Just Give You a Hug?”

Anna Hollingdale, MSc.

Anna Hollingdale, MSc.

Anna Hollingdale, MSc


West Sussex, England

Recently, a 73-year old female came to see me for a fine tune. The patient’s initial complaints were ones, as Audiologists, we hear often: “I cannot hear in noise” or “I am struggling to communicate with others.” It would have been so easy for me to quickly do a fine tune, or respond with the ‘limitations of hearing aids’ script but instead, I listened…

Soon I learned she has a busy social life and takes part in many activities, but having the hearing loss had started to affect all this. This patient has been coming to our clinic for over a year and had never had the chance to really speak about how the hearing loss was affecting her.

Once she had finished talking, I responded by reflecting what I heard, without adding any solutions: “It seems you are having a really hard time with this, it must be really tough for you.” This “invitation” then enabled the patient to open up even more, and share that she had been avoiding social events and was always looking for ways to cover up her difficulties. The hearing loss was significantly affecting her life and relationships with others. Notably, she did not ask for any answers. All this patient needed was for someone to listen and empathise with her.

At the end of the appointment the patient stood up and said, “Can I just give you a hug?”

I think this says a lot more than any words could!

Another Dimension to Patient Journey: Traveling Together, We Go Farther

Kris English, Ph.D.

Kris English, PhD

The Ida Institute encourages audiologists to consider a “journey” metaphor to better understand the patient experience. A patient’s entry into audiologic care is not an abrupt event, but rather is preceded by several influential experiences. We are charged to sort out those experiences, usually with a question such as “What brings you here today?”

The patient will relate salient facts, an important part of the journey — but not the only part. To date, the journey has also likely been lonely, stressful, confusing. If we fail to inquire about these concerns, the patient may fairly wonder if we even care. Without an indication that the audiologist is personally invested, the prospect of moving forward with no apparent  emotional support may seem daunting and unappealing. Consider, for 9062579_sexample, a recent study that found a low degree of adherence to hearing aid recommendations when audiologists dominated the conversation discussing technology (Grenness et al., 2015). Our challenge is to convey with our counseling skills that we are not just watching from the curb as patients travel past, left to their own devices. Rather, we are committed to travel this journey with them. 

The Ultimate Confirmation

It seems safe to say that being asked to give a hug is the ultimate confirmation of patient trust. Patients may initially resist hearing help, and therefore resist us, but if we can mindfully travel with them, help them drop their guard, consider change, and know we care, the subsequent relief can be tremendous! When a patient feels words alone will not convey that relief, and instead asks for permission to enter our personal space, trusting that our answer will be yes, she has made an important break-though.

Most patients don’t ask for a hug, but they all ask, somehow or other, for our attention and support.


Grenness, C., Hickson, L., Laplante-Levesque, A., Meyer, C., & Davidson, B. (2015). The nature of communication throughout diagnosis and management planning in initial audiologic rehabilitation consultations.  Journal of American Academy of Audiology, 26, 36-50.


Patient Care 365 Days a Year

UntitledDevon L. Weist, AuD

Audiology Clinical Instructor, Externship Coordinator

University of South Florida


As 2014 comes to a close, I find myself a little overwhelmed with the holiday bustle and those pesky year-end tasks we tend to put off until the last moment.  This past week, I woke up one morning with the intention of getting to my office early to finish grading exams and papers from my third year AuD students. I was anxious to get this task completed because I knew I had a full clinic schedule the following day. As I just finished grading my first couple exams, another clinical instructor popped into my office holding a very sad looking ITE aid.

The Best-Laid Plans

She explained that an older gentleman had just shown up at the front desk. He mentioned coming to our clinic in the past and appeared to not only be having difficulty hearing, but also seeing.  He thankfully was with his teenage grandson, but was clearly struggling with both senses we often take for granted.  He told my colleague he had broken off the switch and couldn't turn the hearing aid on.

My colleague normally works with cochlear implants, so she wanted to make sure she wasn't missing anything during her troubleshooting.  She and I checked the aid and discovered it was an old analog, trim pot hearing aid.  The brand and serial number were not legible, likely from years of use. 

We also discovered this gentleman had not been into the clinic since 2000, so we no longer had his records.  We both grumbled to each other about the patient waiting until a few days before the Christmas holiday to seek help.  She then met with the older man and told him that due to the age of the hearing aid, it was unlikely it could be repaired and if it could, the cost would be significant due to the age.

He then began to tell her he would have to save up little by little to make the repair costs, and it would likely take him a great deal of time to save for a new hearing aid. As the conversation progressed my instincts and looming paperwork made me think at this point we couldn't do anything further and could schedule him for an appointment after the holidays to discuss financing and options.

Suddenly a Solution30588285_s

Just as it looked like he would be returning after the holidays, our audiology assistant reminded us of a donated hearing aid we had in the cabinet.   A few weeks back, the family of a patient who had recently passed away sent us the aid and a note asking to please donate the aid to someone in need.  My grinch-like tendencies quickly remembered the reason and responsibility we have to those who seek our services.

In short, we were able to fit the patient with a much newer, higher quality working hearing aid.  We also learned during the time we spent testing his hearing that his wife had passed away several months ago, his daughter and grandson recently began living with him, and he was battling the effects of diabetes which include the deterioration of his vision.  He was able to set up a payment plan for a new earmold and office visit fees, but more importantly left the clinic hearing, smiling, and for the first time in a long while able to carry on a conversation with his grandson. 

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The “Real” Tinnitus Story: Lessons Learned About True Patient-Centered Care

IMG_3261Peter Hutchison, Class of 2016 

University of South Florida

When I hear the word tinnitus, my eyes widen and endorphins race to my brain. Ringing in the ears—one of the most common issues associated with any type of hearing loss— is the topic of research for my doctoral project. When I hear the words ringing, buzzing, whooshing, or pulsing my hyper focus kicks in and I say to myself, “This is my thing!” I have read article after article discussing statistics about who tinnitus affects, what might be the cause of this debilitating ringing, how it is measured in humans and animals, and the general lack of understanding in this subject.

And yet …  when I found myself face to face with a patient who was so deeply disturbed by her tinnitus that she was willing to request a nerve section, I realized that I did not know that much at all. What I realized I lacked was personal connection, empathy, and the counseling ability that I knew was going to be crucial to this case. Additionally, I realized how much I did not know regarding tinnitus and management in a clinical population. I learned two important lessons with this patient, the first being serving the patient and not just the condition. The second lesson was that sometimes there are things that are simply out of my control and my scope of knowledge.

Lesson #1

Providing patient-centered care is something that sounds appealing and makes sense, but often I find difficult to practice. When I see a moderate, sloping, high frequency hearing loss, I think about the hearing aid I will recommend at the end of the appointment. When a patient complains of dizziness upon getting out of bed, I consider BPPV. These initial thoughts are natural, and there is nothing wrong to start thinking about the issue at hand and the recommendation that I will make. The problem is that I often find myself stopping there. I forget to consider the needs and desires of that particular patient. I forget to consider the patient’s activity limitations, participation restrictions, and perceived or experienced stigma. I forget to consider the emotional journey that the patient has been on for much longer than the last 30 minutes that they have been in my sound booth.


I realized that I needed to practice better patient-centered care the day I first met the patient with the debilitating tinnitus. Tears poured from her eyes the entire appointment. I tried to offer knowledge, suggestions, and recommendations, but the tears would not stop. Upon reflecting on this appointment, I realized that I tried to provide informational counseling, when what she needed was emotional support (Ekberg et al, 2014). I tried to suggest technology and rehabilitation programs without developing a common ground with the patient.

At the end of the day, patients are autonomous beings, and they decide whether to follow our recommendations. Those decisions depend heavily on the partnerships we develop via counseling. And this approach is an evidence-based practice. Finding common ground has been shown to be a key to a successful clinical outcome. (Clark & English, 2014, p. 8)

It did not matter what I suggested at the moment. At the moment, my patient wanted support counseling. She wanted to know that we haven’t reached the end of the road. She wanted to know that the people she was looking to for help understood what she was going through, and that we weren’t going to just give up. She wanted to start a relationship of complete care and trust, instead of a regimen.

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“All I Did Was Listen”

Kris English, Ph.D.Kris English, PhD

The University of Akron

Matt White is an audiologist in the UK National Health Service, and works in Doncaster in South Yorkshire, England. He recently participated in a counseling course at the Ear Foundation in Nottingham, wherein he described the following patient encounter:


Matt White, BSc(Hons) Aud

My patient was a man in his late 70’s who has had a rubbish time over recent years. Multiple organs are in failure, one kidney has also been removed for cancer treatment and he’s had other cancer issues too as well as issues like pancreatitis. His mobility is greatly compromised and he carries a “do not resuscitate” order with him as his physicians have told him that the efforts required to resuscitate him are likely to kill him, but in a much more horrible way than just going. He told me that his family is already grieving him in advance and he just can’t wait to be with his wife again, who passed away a few years ago.

I wasn’t sure at first what type of person he was going to be, some elderly people that I see in this condition have given up and just want to die. Others, like this gent are very positive and just want to get what they can out of the time they have left. This chap, for example, was off to get his cataracts done under local anaesthetic so he can see better. He talked about seeing the faces of his great-grandchildren more clearly. He talked about all this while explaining that he just wanted to hear as well as he could, which I was able to improve for him in the appt. Explaining all the non-hearing related parts of his life this seemed to help him.

All I did was listen.



“All I Did” … But It’s Actually a Lot!

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