Although hearing loss is very common, it is still a cause for confusion among many people. In the abstract, we know that hearing loss makes it difficult to hear what others have to say, but the confusion sets in when we try to understand how to help. People have a variety of responses when they encounter someone with hearing loss. Some people would prefer to pretend like there is no problem at all, ignoring the obvious. Others move the extreme, exaggerating their speech in strange ways in an attempt to accommodate the hearing loss. Let’s take this opportunity to learn a few of the things people with hearing loss wish you knew.
Hearing Loss is Exhausting
In the first place, hearing loss causes fatigue in many settings. Moving through the world requires more attunement to surroundings, and that attention can be tiring. In social settings, the exhaustion can be even greater. With the prospect that you will embarrass yourself or miss important information, emotions can be heightened. The confusion that can occur in any conversation is enough to require more rest and rejuvenation after those encounters.
Hearing Loss is Unrelated to Intelligence
Whether they realize it or not, some people treat those with hearing loss as if they are less intelligent. This impression can come when a person simplifies their language to an extreme or talks very slowly. These attempts at accommodating hearing loss can come from a sincere desire to make communication easier, but they often come off as condescending and even demeaning. The intelligence a person has before hearing loss is just the same as after it occurs, so be sure to engage with others on that level.
Hearing Loss can be Accommodated
Although some of these attempts are insulting, it is possible to accommodate the hearing loss. All you need to do is ask how. This simple conversation can open the door to healthy communication if you make a sincere attempt to understand the individual nature of hearing loss. Ask your loved one what makes communication easier. When you ask and then listen with an open mind, you can find ways to communicate that are natural for both of you.
Hearing Loss Requires Agency
Those who have hearing might require extra effort to maintain agency. When a person has hearing loss, it can be difficult to remain independent when others try to talk over her. Some people even tend to talk on behalf of people with hearing loss when they aren’t able to do so on their own. If you’re in a group conversation with someone who has hearing loss, you need to take extra steps to incorporate them into the group. One of the best things you can do is to relay questions and comments at a closer distance. Those who have hearing loss might struggle to hear people further away, and if you are standing next to a person with hearing loss, you are in the perfect place to help them establish their agency in the conversation.
Hearing Loss can be Treated
Beyond these myths that can hurt people with hearing loss, a bigger solution is possible. You can listen to these things that people with hearing loss wish you knew, and these realizations can help accommodate their needs. However, the best way to help someone with hearing loss is to encourage treatment. The first step is to have a conversation and to raise the possibility. All you need to do is ask some caring questions about their experiences. When you ask if they think they could benefit from treatment, be ready to listen with care to what they have to say. Even if they show some resistance, this conversation is only the first step along the journey. Once your loved one is ready to get treatment, you can assist through moral support and helping to go to appointments, as well. When you go along to a hearing test or consultation, be sure to take some notes for your loved one, as well. It’s difficult to remember all the details, and your assistance will be crucial as the treatment process continues onward.