For decades, The House of Hearing has served our communities in Northern Utah. Over those years, we’ve consistently seen the strong connections between hearing health and emotional health. The COVID-19 lockdown may have made this connection apparent to you as well as you’ve watched a loved one struggle with untreated hearing loss. Since this situation can often make you feel powerless, we want to empower you with ways to help your loved one with hearing loss.
Understanding the Emotional Impact of Hearing Loss
Before taking action, it’s important to understand how a hearing loss can affect emotional well-being. Even under normal circumstances, an undiagnosed hearing loss can put a strain on relationships. For everyone involved, miscommunication can lead to hurt feelings and frustration, but it goes deeper than that:
It’s not unusual for a person with a newly diagnosed hearing loss to experience depression, fear, and frustration. Adapting to a new way of life is often incredibly difficult. At first, often going through varying stages of grief, denial, and anger, especially when realizing that visions of the future may no longer look the same as they once did, and then having to find a way forward with a whole new identity – asking questions like; What does my life look like now that I have a hearing loss? Can I still do the things I did before? How will people see me? How will they treat me? Am I still me? For a musician like Huey Lewis, not being able to hear meant that he could no longer sing. He essentially lost his core identity, followed by his career and his motivation and he plunged into a deep depression. Eventually, like most who have lost something important to them, there comes a day when the soft glow of acceptance rolls over you and you can reach into a new future with new and exciting possibilities.
Let’s cover steps you can take to improve communication. Changing the way you communicate tends to reduce misunderstandings and emotional stress. It is often easier said than done, especially if there were communication problems to begin with. Seeing a family/couple’s therapist is often extremely helpful for improved communication techniques and dealing with issues that may be a hindrance.
It’s helpful to keep the following basic communication tips in mind:
- A gentle tap on the shoulder is more effective for getting attention than calling a name.
- Always speak face to face. Seeing gestures and facial expressions help your listener understand your message. If you are wearing a face mask, speak clearly and at a good volume – don’t shout or speak too fast.
- Rephrase your message if not understood the first time.
- Turning off the television and other sources of background noise will help your listener focus on what you’re saying.
Convincing Your Loved One to Take Action
Changing the way you communicate is a good first step. The next one is discussing the problem and potential solutions. Timing is important for this conversation. It’s best to bring up the hearing loss when no one is upset.
You’re more likely to be successful if you start the talk with things you’ve noticed. It’s an approach that’s less likely to cause your loved one to become defensive or distressed. For example, you might start by mentioning your loved one’s recent complaints that everyone has started mumbling on the telephone. Or perhaps you’ve observed your loved one listens to music or the TV at a much louder volume than before.
The goal is to get your loved one to acknowledge he or she has noticed changes in hearing and that taking action is a necessary next step. To make a case for seeking professional help, you may have to emphasize the importance of hearing well during these challenging times. Like the rest of us, the person you’re helping probably wants to stay on top of the news and remain connected to friends and family via video and telephone calls.
We’re Available to Help
From the comfort of home, your loved one can have a no-obligation Tele Audiology appointment with one of our certified doctors of audiology. After discussing concerns and symptoms, our doctor will suggest appropriate next steps.