Around one-third of all adults over the age of 65 have hearing loss. It’s not simply a condition that impacts older folks, people all along the age spectrum live with hearing loss. In fact, one in eight Americans, 12 and over, show signs of hearing loss in both ears during standard hearing exams.
However, it is a leading chronic health concern in older demographics. This type of hearing loss, age-related, is often progressive (which means it gets worse) and irreversible.
The good news is that the hearing loss that comes with age is also highly treatable, and many people adapt to their new reality and continue to live full and vibrant lives by adopting skillful modifications to their communication strategies.
One useful tool is having a disclosure statement at the ready in social situations. Here’s what you need to know about disclosure statements if you have hearing loss.
Why We Lose Our Hearing With Age
Although there are lifestyle choices you can make that might help protect your hearing in the long run, there isn’t a surefire way to escape age-related hearing loss. That’s because the natural aging process is the cause.
Over the years, time causes degradation to the sensitive inner ear cells that are responsible for receiving sound from the external world. These cells transform this noise into sound information, in the form of electrical pulses. Via the auditory nerve, the sound information is sent to the brain’s processing centers where meaning is made.
As the health of these cells declines due to aging, the finite number we have to work with dwindles. These fewer cells try to do the work of their fallen comrades, but some of the noise occurring around us isn’t captured and thus, this information isn’t sent to the brain. Our experience of this is hearing loss, where we lose access to certain sound frequencies. One of the earliest signs of hearing loss and largest complaints by people who live with the condition is the way speech becomes difficult to understand.
Hearing Loss And Loss Of Connection
When hearing loss appears later in life due to age-related hearing loss, it can bring a sense of isolation and depression along with it. Inherently, our fundamental need for connection as human beings is interrupted when communication becomes frustrating.
Among people with hearing loss, a large number report negative influences in their closest relationships.
What Is A Disclosure Statement?
Accepting one’s hearing loss can be an emotional maelstrom, because it carries with it some outdated ideas about aging. It also disrupts communication strategies and behaviors that have worked for an entire lifetime, spanning many decades, and requires a bit of an overhaul.
One of the questions you’ll encounter early in your hearing loss diagnosis is whether you want to disclose to others that you have hearing loss, and if so, how will you do it?
A disclosure statement is a simple sentence that conveys your condition of hearing loss, letting others know what might be an obstacle in your communication. Whether or not you choose to adopt one is up to you, and may even change from situation to situation.
Types Of Disclosure Statements
A 2016 study examined the ways that people disclosed their hearing loss and evaluated their experience. In their conclusion, these researchers overwhelmingly recommended educating people diagnosed with hearing loss on the value of disclosure statements, as they can truly help people communicate effectively.
People who did not disclose their hearing loss were categorized as ‘non-disclosure’ and tended to have less successful verbal interactions. They shifted the responsibility of the conversation to the other person by using phrases like, ‘Please speak up, I can’t hear you’ which neither identifies the problem nor offers a solution.
Some people only shared that they had hearing loss. This category of participants are Basic disclosures. Once they relayed information about what might be obstructing the conversation, they most often found people to be helpful and accommodating.
Most successful were people from the Multipurpose disclosure category. They explained they had hearing loss and suggested ways to improve the conversation. An example of this type of disclosure might sound like, ‘please walk on my right side so that I can hear you better.’
Practice Makes Perfect
When combined with treatment, the art of successfully disclosing your hearing loss is a technique that will finally enable you to live in harmony with your loss of hearing. Like any new experience, telling someone you have hearing loss for the first time may make you feel vulnerable or self-conscious. Like many things, experimenting with a new behavior is scary! You’re likely to become less sensitive to the process with time and practice, and it might even develop into a new ‘second nature’ habit.
Prioritize Your Hearing Health
We’re here to connect you with your healthiest hearing possible. Get in touch with our team today to find out how.