Hearing loss, whether caused by disease, exposure to a loud bang, medication or just plain "gettin' old," is frustrating, depressing, stressful, annoying, isolating and simply one more thing to add stress to daily life. And don't we already have enough stress? Who needs to add more when it's 100% preventable?
Hearing Problems Aren't Just About You
If you're the one who's experiencing a gradual or sudden loss of hearing, you naturally think that it's your problem. After all, it's happening to you! But the fact is...
...hearing loss in any family affects the entire family, not just you. Indeed, you might feel isolated. You may engage with others less because of all that screaming just to be understood. You might feel sorry for yourself. You're the one with the problem, right?
Sure, you have a hearing loss – a hearing problem – but that hearing loss has an impact on everything from routine communications between family members to a healthier, happier sex life. Studies reveal that the ability to communicate comfortably – speaking and hearing – improves things in the bedroom, good news for those who feel isolated.
On the other hand, if you're a family member who has to cope with the hearing loss of a loved one, you have your own set of problems – frustration, the feeling of being ignored, separation from a loving, supportive spouse, and the inability to be a part of daily family life – the stuff that makes life fun!
Indeed, as a family member, you have your own set of stressors with which to cope. No denying. However, it's important to recognize the feelings experienced by the individual with hearing loss – sometimes over a short period of time. That's no "walk in the park," either.
So, whether you recognize hearing loss in yourself or others take steps to take this totally unnecessary stress factor out of everyday life – and maybe even perk up things in the boudoir. Hey, if you can't hear those whispered "soft nothings" you can't appreciate them, or recognize the cues that love is in the air.
Coping With Hearing Loss
It starts here, with an increased awareness of the impact hearing loss has on family life, so read on and discover how to increase your awareness of hearing loss and lower the stress levels 'round the ol' homestead.
Be patient, even when patience is wearing thin. No one is at fault, here.
Use adaptive behaviors. Stand directly in front of the individual with hearing loss to provide visual clues of what you're saying with mouth movements. Ensure you have their attention and they are aware you are speaking to them. It's the little things that deliver positive results.
Sit close to each other in crowded, noisy spaces like restaurants or parties, and again, position yourself so eye-mouth contact is easy and un-noticed by others in the group. Even with hearing loss, you can adapt discrete behaviors to lessen the stress caused by this vexing problem.
Don't call out from another room to an individual with hearing loss. Sound bounces from wall to wall and by the time it reaches the person with hearing loss it's a garbled, muffled noise.
Walk to wear communication can take place. Turn down or get away from background noise and focus on the communication by speaking at a normal level and proving visual cues to the hearing-impaired listener.
Do NOT purchase one of those low-cost, poorly-made personal sound amplifiers advertised on TV. These unregulated assisted-listening devices can actually do more damage to an already weakened hearing system.
You're Not Nuts
Okay, "nuts" isn't a technical or medical term, but you might feel a little nutty living with hearing loss or living with a family member with hearing loss. But you aren't, though you may be frustrated and stressed.
Hearing loss is a physical impairment, like a broken arm. You wouldn't get annoyed at a family member with a broken arm, but because hearing loss is invisible it's easy to forget the impact that physical loss of hearing causes.
Your spouse isn't ignoring you. She just can't hear you. Your teen-ager is raising her voice in anger or frustration. She's trying to be heard. However, these kinds of signals are often mis-construed, leading you or others in the household living with mis-communications, frustration, isolation, hurt feelings and a bunch of other emotions that need some kind of outlet.
Counseling with a neutral third party can go a long way in educating you and other family members on the effects that hearing loss is having on the entire family. You aren't nuts or crazy, you're stressed, concerned, anxious, annoyed or some other negative emotion that may well make a bad problem worse.
Recognize the impact hearing loss is having on other members of the family, how communications have changed – lessened. How stress has slowly crept in to become part of the daily routine.
There are numerous coping strategies you can use to help you understand your feelings and the feelings of others, whether you're the family member with hearing loss or one of the family members who must cope with hearing loss in a loved one.
Hearing Aid Technology to the Rescue
The simplest, most effective solution to the negative impact hearing loss has on family life comes by way of modern, hearing aid technology. In just a few short years, hearing aids have shrunk in size and amped up both volume and features that make hearing aid use a whole new living experience.
Today's digital hearing aids offer a host of features including:
- wearing comfort (light as a feather)
- a variety of types of hearing aids to suit your personal preferences
- improved sound quality (full spectrum, natural sound through the use of open ear hearing aid technology that allows natural hearing with a little boost of juice on an "as needed" basis)
- wireless connectivity to keep you plugged in and in the game longer
- automated technology to control sound levels in various listening environments without a thought
- automated feedback suppression so you can go throughout your day without the worry of whistling
- flashy, behind the ear hearing aids that make a fashion statement and a statement about you
It starts with a visit to a hearing aid professional – an audiologist or hearing aid practitioner well versed in hearing loss and hearing loss solutions. These hearing pros perform an evaluation of the type and extent of hearing loss, and offers advice on which hearing aids would best suit the client.
Expect a transition phase and maybe a few trips back to the hearing aid professional for minor adjustments to your new, techno-ears, but that's not all you should expect.
Through the use of today's hearing technology, you can expect improved communications on the home front – less shouting and more communication between all family members.
Hearing aids, not only improve hearing, they improve relationships – the important relationships in your life regardless of your age. Recognize that hearing loss impacts everyone – not just the guy or gal experiencing loss of hearing. Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors – everyone benefits when hearing loss is properly and effectively treated.
What are you waiting for? Isn't it time to address that loss of hearing and eliminate a totally unnecessary source of stress in your family life? Time to pick up the phone and make that call to a hearing aid professional near you.