Posted on Thursday, December 26, 2013

Living with Hearing Loss

Couple discusses how to live with hearing loss.

Living with hearing loss creates many stresses. It can affect mood, interest in life, education, and job performance. It not only puts up barriers that must be navigated on a daily basis, but it requires forethought. Living with hearing loss means adapting to changes in hearing and taking positive steps to overcome limitations.

1.Get a Hearing Aid--Hearing aids make communication easier, provide auditory input to the brain, and have been shown to make those with hearing loss happier. A study done by Hear-the-World called Hearing is Living found people who wear hearing aids are more active and social than those who do not. In fact, the majority (83 percent) of hearing aid users in the U.S. agreed their quality of life improved with better hearing. Don't believe in studies? Here's what one woman had to say about her hearing aids:
"Treating my hearing loss and adjusting to hearing aids took some time to get used to, but hearing again was an amazing gift. Life quickly opened up around me. Things I had not realized I'd been cut off from were revealed to me. It's amazing how much you can accept silence without recognizing that that silence hides what you are missing." Anita Chambers

2.Plan Ahead—when traveling, going to the movies, or a museum it is best to search ways to help navigate the hearing world more easily. It might seem an extra step that makes things more difficulty, but in reality taking this step will begin to open up and simplify your world by giving you the "lay of the land" when it comes to new places or even just mapping out places in your area. For example, if you are going to a movie theater, find the ones closest to you most committed to providing equal access. If you are going to a restaurant, find the ones that are most responsive when you call ahead and ask for seating that is in a quieter corner. If you are traveling, check out this article on helpful tips to know about travel

3.Commit to Communication—Communicating with others is not only an essential part of human interaction, hearing and understanding others and being able to have them understand you is your right. Once you commit to understanding others, you can boldly take a few steps to make the process easier. Teach others how to communicate with you and also do your best to remember these simple rules to make communication easier:

  • Be specific--Don't fall into the pattern of saying Huh? or What? Instead, repeat what you have understood then ask a question that directly relates to what you didn't.
  • Face Time--Not only is it important to face the person you are speaking with, this tactic also makes it easier for you to read lips and pay attention to facial cues.
  • Aggressive Positivity--Everyone with hearing loss should explain their disability to those they're speaking with, but how you explain can make all the difference. If you tell someone, "Speak up. I can't hear you." They might take offense. If you are timid, saying, "I'm so sorry, but I can't hear you," you do yourself a disservice. But if you are positive and straightforward and explain, "I'm really interested in what you have to say, but my hearing loss makes it difficult. Do you mind facing me and raising your voice, so that we can continue this interesting conversation?" you'll get a better reaction and won't feel as if you're insulting others or belittling yourself.
  • 4. Join a Support Group—Today’s support groups have online forums that make them easier than ever to access and keep active with others who have hearing loss. Support groups for hearing loss are filled with people facing the same challenges in home, work, and in society. People who are involved in support groups tend to adjust more quickly to their hearing loss and have a greater sense of pride and manageability of their condition. Below are some links to begin your search.
    Hearing Loss Support Groups
    Association of Late Deafened Adults Chapter and Group Directory
    American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
    Association of Late Deafened Adults
    My Baby's Hearing
    Listen Up Web
    Center for Hearing Loss Help
    Speak Up Librarian

    5.Knowledge is Key—Staying up on the latest technologies and medical advances for hearing loss not only helps you to understand the science of hearing loss, but it gives you access to information about technologies that may be useful in helping you with everyday communication. Information about hearing loss makes the choices associated with this lifelong condition more manageable. Sites like Hearing Aid Forums brings together people from all over the world, including audiologists and helps people find answers to their most pressing questions not just about hearing aids, but about hearing loss.

    6.Make Your Home Hearing Loss Friendly—Just as someone with a walking disability might need to tailor their home to help them navigate it more easily, someone with hearing loss should take advantages of today’s technologies to make their home hearing loss friendly. There are a lot of places in the world where you are going to have to conform or plan ahead or attempt to understand others, but your home is the one place you can outfit to make your listening life easier. For example, Loop systems or Bluetooth technologies to make television and movies easier to hear, alarm clocks that vibrate, fire alarms that flash, doorbells that flash lights in your home. Finding ways to make your home as hearing loss friendly as possible, provides you a comfortable place to relax and relieve the stresses of communicating outside the home.

    If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

    ©2011. American Hearing Aid Associates 225 Wilmington - West Chester Pike, Suite 300 Chadds Ford, PA 19317888.575.2511
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