Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of biological factors, environmental issues, and lifestyle issues. There is no reason that hearing loss should get in the way of living your fullest, best life, however. Acknowledging your hearing loss and treating it can go a very long way in improving your physical and mental well-being—and will improve the relationships you have with friends, loved ones, and coworkers.
Treating hearing loss is very important. This is because hearing loss affects the physical body as well as your mental state. On the physical side, studies have shown that untreated hearing loss is related the increased risk of falls and accidents, which can lead to catastrophic bodily injuries. This is especially the case for people who are older. Studies have also shown that there are links between untreated hearing loss and depression and anxiety. This is in part because we can feel quite disconnected from the places we live in, work at, and frequent every day when we cannot hear the complexity of the environments we move through. We can then feel somewhat isolated; like we are not experiencing the same stimuli as others. When this happens, we can feel increasingly disconnected from those around us, and may appear lost in conversation, or as if we do not want to contribute to conversation at all. After a while, they may want to recede from public life altogether, preferring to stay home and avoid conversation, and to avoid spaces where it is difficult to distinguish conversation from the background noise that surrounds it.
Ultimately, treating hearing loss is an important step to creating a healthy lifestyle for you to feel connected to the people and places you love. There are a few things you can do to both treat your hearing loss and to improve your relationships. If you are clear about the ways that you prefer (and need) to communicate, you will not only reduce troubling miscommunications that can lead to hurt feelings, you will simply feel more connected. To this end, it is really important to simply communicate about your hearing loss and your hearing needs.
There are different ways to disclose to the people who are important to you that you are experiencing hearing loss. For example, you may find it best to simply let them know that you hear better out of one ear than the other, asking them to address you more directly on that side of your body. You may find it is important to be more direct about the kinds of spaces that you prefer to be in. For example, people experiencing hearing loss often have trouble creating hierarchies of the many different sounds that may occur in a place such as a restaurant. This makes it difficult to communicate, when you cannot distinguish the voice of the person you are talking to because there is a lot of ambient noise or where many people are talking at once. Part of creating better communication with your loved ones is to be really specific about the kinds of places, quiet places, where you can best understand one another.
You may also find that you want to communicate with your loved ones about the ways that you prefer to not be addressed. For example, people experiencing hearing loss do not need to be spoken to excessively slowly or at excessive volumes. You may simply want to be made aware that you are being spoken to, and might ask your loved ones to establish eye contact before addressing you or to lightly tap you on the arm when they want to get your attention. Establishing communication needs such as these with loved ones will likely mitigate embarrassing or uncomfortable interactions.
Your family can be your most important allies on your hearing loss journey. They can help you to arrange visits to a hearing health professional, and to understand what hearing assistance might be necessary. A family member can, for example, assist with the fitting and maintenance of any new hearing aid devices you may need. In another example, working as a family to learn sign language in order to communicate will go a long way to facilitate communication. No matter what, hearing loss can be a very gradual process, and it can often take some time to adjust to your different hearing capabilities. If you are communicating with your family about what your hearing needs are, they will be better equipped to communicate with you on your terms.
Are you ready to begin your journey to better hearing – and to improve your most important relationships? Our comprehensive hearing tests and personalized hearing aid fittings will help with communication and bolster your interactions with your friends and loved ones. Contact us today to learn more.