12 million people (or 17.82% of the UK population) are suffering from hearing loss greater than 25dB. Despite being a physical condition, hearing loss affects much more than our bodies, and often leaves those affected feeling isolated and alone.
Fortunately, the negative effects of hearing loss are not inevitable. Coping strategies, as well as different treatment options can help people on the deafness spectrum interact with the world through sound more effectively and effortlessly. There are, however, some ‘tactics’ that might seem tempting to use that can actually end up making the situation worse.
This week, we’re exploring both, and giving you some examples of helpful vs harmful hearing loss coping strategies.
Some simple practical tips to keep in mind that can help you navigate your daily life with hearing loss include:
Letting Others Know
As a person experiencing hearing loss, you might hesitate to let people around you know what’s going on for fear of embarrassment or being judged. However, keeping your condition a secret is not something that will do you any good down the line, and can lead to you becoming socially isolated and depressed.
When you tell those around you about your hearing loss, they are able to adjust the way they communicate to you in accordance with your needs, making the process easier and more efficient. This, in turn, can reduce feelings of anxiety and embarrassment.
Being Mindful of Your Environment
Unfortunately, most spaces are not designed with the needs of hard of hearing people in mind. Understanding the different aspects of your environment can help you learn to navigate it for easier and less strenuous communication:
- Light: make sure the face(s) of the person/people you are having a conversation with are well-lit as this can help with lip reading
- Distance: simply ensuring the speaker is as close to you as possible can significantly improve your listening experience
- Background noise: if possible, minimise noise levels within the space by turning off the TV or radio, closing the windows, etc.
Joining a Support Group
Hearing loss may cause you to experience a range of negative and/or confusing emotions such as anger, sadness, and frustration. The ability to share them with other people in similar situations can have a positive effect and help you process those feelings, providing an outlet and source of support that family members or close friends are sometimes unable to provide as well-intentioned as they may be.
What Doesn’t Help
Almost every person suffering from hearing loss has probably been there at some point: nodding your head and saying ‘yes’ despite having no idea what your conversation partner has just said, or simply not participating in conversations altogether. You may begin employing these strategies without even realising it. Unfortunately, in the long run, they usually end up making your situation worse.
Some of those include:
Sometimes, simply nodding and smiling can seem easier than asking someone to repeat themselves 20 times. However, by doing this, you are only hurting yourself in the long run. ‘Fake hearing’ leads to missing out on the true experience of interacting with others and fully engaging with the thoughts and ideas they express.
It can be easy to get lost in a group conversation: trying to figure out who’s saying what is often stressful and frustrating because by the time you’ve caught up, the conversation has moved on. This can make dropping out of the conversation seem like a tempting option.
Similarly to ‘fake hearing’, however, this ‘solution’ only makes you feel lonelier and more isolated in the long run.
Not participating in social situations is another harmful, but common coping mechanism people use to avoid negative emotions associated with hearing loss. Many individuals affected by hearing loss tend to stay away from situations where it is difficult to hear, but becoming socially isolated is dangerous as it can increase feelings of depression.
The Most Successful Strategy
The single most successful strategy for coping with hearing loss is reaching out for professional help and obtaining a diagnosis. Your audiologist/ hearing care provider will be able to identify the most suitable treatment for your type and level of hearing impairment. Treating your condition will allow you to enjoy conversations and make positive memories with the ones you love once again, increasing your confidence and overall quality of life.
We at Hear4U offer comprehensive hearing assessments which are 100% free and a wide range of high-quality hearing aids to help you support your hearing. Click the button below to book your complementary hearing test with us!