Take a moment to think: when there’s an issue you have, how do you deal with it? Do you prefer to sweep it under the rug and ignore it? Do you try to solve it in small ways? Do you bring it up with people and discuss it? Do you tackle your issue head-on?
With some stuff, it doesn’t matter how you deal with it. Some problems do sort themselves out. However, as with many difficulties and challenges we face in our lives, hearing loss is a condition that we must address if it’s going to change.
Addressing Hearing Loss
The most important step you can take is to treat your hearing loss. Treating hearing loss brings significant benefits to your overall health and well-being. People with untreated hearing loss tend to earn less than colleagues who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids, or colleagues with normal hearing abilities. Moreover, people with untreated hearing loss are at higher risk for developing dementia, depression, stress, and anxiety. Over time, people with untreated hearing loss may isolate themselves by avoiding social situations where it may be difficult to communicate. Because hearing loss affects our speech recognition abilities, communication may become difficult, which might lead to frustrations and conflicts in our interpersonal relationships.
Treating hearing loss begins with a hearing test. If a hearing loss is found, then our team at Worth Hearing will work with you to find the appropriate solution to meet your hearing needs. The prescription of hearing aids, fine-tuned to meet your specific hearing needs, is the most common form of treatment.
Adjusting to Hearing Aids
After being fitted for hearing aids, there is a period of adjustment that is different for everyone. Be patient with yourself and get accustomed to hearing the sound of your own voice, as well as all of the environmental sounds in your surroundings that you’ve been missing. Over time, it will become easier to hear – and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without hearing aids at all!
Communicating Your Needs with Hearing Loss
Even with hearing aids, there may be moments where you need more access than others. For example, if you’re in a particularly loud restaurant or in a public transportation hub, it may be difficult for you to hear even with hearing aids. Whatever the situation, it’s important to remember that help is available if you need it. It is a matter of communicating your needs to others.
A study published in Ear and Hearing reveals that the way in which you communicate your hearing needs is key to your overall communication experience with others. We all deploy different strategies when communicating with others. This study, conducted at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear, surveyed 337 people who experience some degree of hearing loss. The survey consisted of 15 questions about how people communicate their experience with hearing loss.
Results showed that there were three main forms of communicators: non-disclosers, basic disclosers, and multipurpose disclosers.
Non-disclosers: Non-disclosers do not share that they are experiencing a hearing loss. If they face difficulties in communication, they might say, “I can’t hear you. Please speak up.” Rather than acknowledging the hearing loss, they will use phrases that “normal hearing people may use.”
Basic disclosers: Basic disclosers acknowledge that they experience a hearing loss, but provide no further details on the condition or how it may be accommodated. A basic discloser might say something like, “I worked in construction for many years and now experience difficulty hearing.”
Multipurpose disclosers: Of the three types, as you may have guessed, the multipurpose disclosers are the most effective at communicating. Multipurpose disclosers share that they are experiencing a hearing loss and they also offer tips on how to communicate with them more smoothly. For example, a multipurpose discloser might say, “I have difficulty hearing in my right ear. Please sit on my left side.” This gives other people enough information to make adjustments to accommodate your hearing loss.
Why Your Disclosure Method Matters with Hearing Loss
According to senior author, Dr. Konstantina Stankovic, the multipurpose disclosure method is the preferred strategy of the three. She says that the multipurpose disclosure method “may help people gain the confidence they need to disclose their hearing loss and improve communication with others. We think that it can be empowering for patients to know that these strategies, and especially the multipurpose disclosure strategy, are available to them.”
There’s no reason to live with untreated hearing loss. If you are experiencing changes in your hearing, visit us at Worth Hearing today for a hearing test and consultation. We’ll work with you to reconnect to the conversations in your life.