Companions are a very important part of the communication process. The reason communication is so important is it connects us to those around us. The people that we live with are probably the most important source of our communication. We rely on them for information, entertainment, and basic human contact. These are the people we tend to spend most of our time with and consequently are the most important to us. For this reason, it is crucial that the companion is included in the communication process.
When hearing loss is first suspected, it is generally the companion that recognizes the initial symptoms. They begin to see their significant other misunderstand or struggle to hear in certain situations. As the loss progresses, the companion is the one who generally bears the brunt of the frustration: they repeat themselves, listen to the TV too loud, or listen to their loved one complain of all of the mumblers in our world.
On the other hand, the person with the hearing loss may not notice a big communication problem. It is easier to blame others for the loss. They may not even realize just how much they are truly missing. To complicate this issue, amplification is expensive, so even when someone recognizes that they have loss, they don’t necessarily feel that they have THAT big a loss and may not feel comfortable making the financial investment necessary to correct the problem without input from their spouse or significant other.
Further, hearing loss can be complicated. There may be other issues such as poor speech understanding, processing (neurological) disorders, or medical issues that complicate the prognosis. Again, that special companion needs to be present to understand what can and cannot be done to serve that patient.
When a companion does not accompany the patient, the outcome is obvious: the patient leaves not fully understanding the situation and choosing not to pursue amplification. But the more long-term issues are that the family members won’t understand what the patient is experiencing, what can be expected, what was recommended, and why the patient did nothing.
As you can see, it is beneficial to the patient, the family, and those trying to administer care to have a hearing companion present for any hearing evaluation.