Confused senior woman being comforted

Aphasia, as defined by the Mayo Clinic “is a condition that robs you of the ability to communicate. Aphasia can affect your ability to express and understand language, both verbal and written.  Aphasia typically occurs suddenly after a stroke or a head injury. But it can also come on gradually from a slowly growing brain tumor or a degenerative disease. The amount of disability depends on the location and the severity of the brain damage.”

APHASIA AND HEARING LOSS

So what does that have to do with hearing loss?  Aphasia doesn’t cause hearing loss.  However, many of the conditions that cause aphasia can also cause hearing loss in one or both ears.

Why is this significant?  Anyone who has had a condition that has caused aphasia has been through a physically and emotionally taxing event that has interfered with his or her ability to communicate.  If the patient has a hearing loss either as a result of the condition that caused the aphasia or has a previously undiagnosed hearing loss it is only going to make their ability to communicate more difficult.  Unfortunately, an assessment of the patient’s ability to hear usually takes a backseat to the patients more immediate medical needs.

PATIENT ADVOCATE

As the significant other, close friend or family member involved in the care of a patient with aphasia you may need to advocate for the patient regarding their ability to hear.  Request that a hearing evaluation be completed to determine if a hearing loss does exist.  If a hearing loss is present steps should be taken to ensure that the loss is remediated either medically or through the use of hearing aids.

A patient with aphasia already has a difficult time communicating.  Burdening them further with a condition that can be remedied or alleviated is not in the best interests of either the patient or those who are caring for the patient.