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Be your own advocate: Talk to others about your hearing loss

Be your own advocate: Talk to others about your hearing loss Hearing loss effects millions of Americans, but many are too shy to advocate for themselves.  2013 797 Be your own advocate: Talk to others about your hearing loss

Hearing loss is a common condition that comes with aging. Luckily, burgeoning technology and innovative hearing aids make it much easier for us to adapt when our hearing begins to dwindle. According to the Hearing Health Foundation, one in five Americans experience hearing loss. The percentage of adults with hearing loss increases from 18 percent of the population of those between the ages of 45 and 54, to 47 percent of adults who are 75 years or older.

Gradual hearing loss is the most common, but this also means that you may be living with hearing loss for years without really noticing it. Whether you are experiencing mild or severe hearing loss, it's important to voice your concerns and opinions to loved ones. You are your own advocate, and others cannot hear how you here. Here are a few tips and solutions to education those around you about the condition:

Get educated

Telling others about your hearing loss can help with communicationThere are many facets to hearing loss that can be troublesome, but it's a learning process. Ask a friend or family member to attend informational sessions and clinics with you. By doing so, you will learn about what steps you should be taking, and your loved ones will have a better grasp of what you are going through. Someone with normal hearing may not be aware of the struggles that you are experiencing, and therefore, may not be as willing to adapt to meet your needs.

You shouldn't try to hide your hearing loss from friends, family members and employers. By bringing up the condition with someone in the first place, you are automatically taking control of your hearing loss. Avoiding it isn't going to help. Let people know what steps you will are taking to decrease the effect your hearing loss has on your daily life, and give others tips to adapt as well. Most people will want to be sensitive and work with your hearing loss, but some people are unsure of how to act. Here are a few things you can tell them:

Don't shout: While many people think that shouting is the best way for someone with hearing loss to understand what they are saying, it can actually make it more difficult. Same goes for talking super slowly. Tell them that speaking in their regular tone is easier for you to understand with your hearing aids, because they are already amplifying the sound.

Don't cover your mouth: Lip reading is an important skill for people with hearing loss, so the speaker's mouth should be clear of food, gum and cigarettes. These things make it more difficult for people with hearing loss to decipher words through the shapes the mouth makes. Ask them to directly face you and use facial expressions as much as possible.

Maneuver through a conversation

After you've established with others that you have hearing loss, you may feel more confident with having more of a say in a conversation.

You must also do your part in the conversation to make sure that you understand everything properly. If you are sitting there expecting others to make appropriate moves and gestures, chances are you are going to be let down. Always pay close attention to the speaker, so they know you are interested and trying to comprehend the conversation to its fullest. If you need an area that is quiet and well-lit, voice your concern about this. Remember, people without hearing loss may not be aware of this. Also, be sure to pick up on nonverbal clues like hand gestures, which can help you through the conversation.

It might take some time, but try not to interrupt a conversation, and rather use context clues throughout the discussion to fill in the blanks more easily. If it's necessary, feel free to ask for written clues. But always remember to keep a positive, humorous attitude while you're having a conversation with people. Learning to adapt with your hearing loss is a process, and maintaining an upbeat attitude throughout the whole thing will make the transition smoother.

You're not alone

Being an advocate for yourself and your hearing loss can be scary, but you should remember that you are not alone in the scenario. Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions associated with aging, and there are many factors that will increase chances of experiencing it, including genetics and exposure to loud noises. Once you accept your hearing loss, it will be much easier to cope.

If you are interested in attending a clinic or informational session, be sure to check with your audiologist. Hearing healthcare professionals can give you advice to find the best place to receive information, which may actually be at the clinic itself. Classes for lip reading and other coping strategies are also helpful for people with hearing loss. 

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