Acknowledging the Experience of Hearing Loss

Acknowledging the Experience of Hearing Loss

In Communication, Family & Relationships, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A

Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A
Latest posts by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)

Hearing loss often comes on slowly and so subtly that it often goes on for years without any acknowledgment. Subtle signs may be present but it’s far easier for many to push them aside and go on living. However, this doesn’t mean that the negative effects of hearing loss aren’t affecting you. 

Living in Denial at Home

Many live in denial about their hearing loss because they associate it with being older or disabled. However, putting it off can make matters much worse. For one thing, even when you don’t admit you have a hearing problem doesn’t mean others aren’t noticing. At home, your family and significant other may notice they have to repeat themselves more and more often. Disagreements around the volume of the TV may become a nightly battle -adding to tension at home in all your relationships. 

Living in Denial in the Workplace

In the workplace, your employers and coworkers may notice as well. Miscommunications due to unaddressed hearing loss quickly lead to regular mistakes and a built-up lack of reliance on your ability to perform your job. Those with unaddressed hearing loss are more likely to be passed up for raises and promotions than their contemporaries with normal hearing. The Better Hearing Institute reports that those with unaddressed hearing loss make on average $30,000 less than those with normal or treated hearing annually. In addition, those with hearing loss are more likely to struggle to find a job at all with the rates of those with hearing loss equaling 15.6 percent – twice that of the average.

Why Denial Doesn’t Help

In truth, those concerned with appearing older or seeming unfit to perform tasks when wearing hearing aids are self-sabotaging themselves in a significant way. While hearing aids amplify the sounds with which you struggle, not wearing them may make you appear confused, distracted, and disoriented. These ironically are commonly perceived stereotypes around aging.

On the contrary, those who address a hearing loss head-on and seek treatment early are on the same playing field as those with normal hearing as far as employment. They also have an increased chance of connecting to the people in their life. With improved relationships, comes improved confidence and the likeliness of getting out more and trying new things.

Owning you Disability

The important thing to do is admit you have a problem and take action around hearing loss. For one thing, hearing loss is protected under the American Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. This means that you are protected from termination of work based on your disability and that reasonable accommodations must be made to help workers complete their jobs.

At home, being open about a hearing loss allows you to ask for accommodations as well. This means letting people know what communication issues work best for you. This could include asking people to maintain eye contact, speak slower, take pauses or make sure their face isn’t’ obscured when talking to allow for lip reading.

Practice asking for help

For many, it can be difficult to ask for help. Many worries they will be perceived as “needy” Others struggle with asking for help because it requires surrendering control to someone else. These are societal hang-ups that can change with you. When you acknowledged hearing loss for yourself, you can begin to ask those around you for the help that you need. Don’t delay in letting people know you have a hearing loss and what kind of communication strategies work best for you. Hearing loss is incredibly common affecting one in eight people between the ages of 12-69, with hearing loss in both ears based on standard examinations. There is a good chance that letting others know you have an issue could inspire them to disclose their hearing loss to you.

Take the first step today

The first step is acknowledging a hearing loss. This means being honest with yourself 

About how well you can hear. If you suspect that a hearing loss has been keeping you from connecting to the people you love and succeeding in the workplace the time to act is now. When you contact us, we can help you find the best treatment to support your hearing and lifestyle.