Resilience and hearing rehabilitation

Hearing rehabilitation: the influence of resilience in people with hearing loss

Resilience — our ability to face incredibly stressful situations and cope with them — was recently the subject of a study by researchers at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. They found that this ability to deal with adversity influenced the hearing rehabilitation process in adults with hearing loss.

Hearing loss can easily shake up our daily lives. For those with this often irreversible condition, personalized auditory rehabilitation is one way of dealing with it. It is important to understand the factors surrounding our reactions to stress and to adaptation with deafness in order to continuously improve during the hearing rehabilitation process.

Three essential factors positively impact resilience

The data gathered from study participants showed three main factors that positively influenced their ability to adapt to stress:

1. Living situation (e.g. living with another person)

2. Feelings of control and competence in communication

3. The degree of hearing loss

1. Living situation

The researchers noted that most study participants lived with someone else, and that more than half were members of an association connected to hearing loss.

Living with another person provides social support. Compared to living alone, the support from household members is directly associated with a greater ability to face stress and manage it. Interpersonal support also increases the feeling of communication ability. Social support can also come from a group the person identifies with, such as an association for people with hearing loss.

2. Feelings of control and competence in communication

32 of the 35 participants used hearing aids (one ear, two ears and/or cochlear implant[s]).

Hearing loss can affect our feelings of communicational control and competence. Hearing aids and suitable rehabilitation programs, along with support from loved ones, play a major role in reclaiming feelings of control and skill in the ability to communicate well. It makes sense, because improved hearing gives people confidence to understand and get involved in family discussions, for example.

3. The degree of hearing loss

All the study participants had moderate to severe hearing loss.

The study showed that the more severe the hearing loss, the greater the ability to face and adapt to stress. In fact, people with severe hearing loss appear to be better disposed to handle the resulting changes and get used to them. This can be explained by the potential of devices and rehabilitation to considerably improve their quality of life. This holds particularly true for people with cochlear implants.

How do these findings facilitate auditory rehabilitation?

The data from the study stress the need to focus on interventions that take people’s living environment into account. Rehabilitation should include friends, family, associations and so on, all those who communicate directly with the person with hearing loss. This optimizes social support, given its strong influence on the ability to deal with the changes hearing loss brings and to adapt to them.

Resilience plays a role in hearing rehabilitation where it concerns people’s willingness to focus on their abilities and strengths to help them face the various challenges that may arise. Rehabilitation should not just take into account the potential difficulties of hearing loss and/ or wearing a hearing aid, but also an individual’s social support and personal identity.

 

By Caroline Benoit, audiologist, Polyclinique de l’Oreille
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