Understanding the mental aspects of hearing loss

Like your eyesight, your hearing is precious to you, enabling you to communicate effectively with your friends and family members and enhancing how you learn, both as a child and an adult. Loss of hearing can cause difficulties at school or at work. Using a cell phone or a handset might become very trying and being in a large crowd of people – at a party or a convention for example – becomes more and more tricky. Even watching television at home is not easy, as with hearing loss you may want the volume turned up a lot louder than is comfortable for people with normal hearing levels.

Understand the frustration

Children or older people with hearing loss can find the whole experience intensely frustrating – children because they may not have the emotional maturity to understand why they’re ‘different’ to everyone else and seniors because the onset of hearing loss is a depressing reminder of growing older. Understanding the mental aspects of hearing loss is not difficult and there is a lot you can do to support a child, adult or older person who is experiencing this.

The frustration of not hearing clearly can make those with hearing loss angry at their inability to distinguish sounds and depressed at the thought that it will never get better. Shouting loudly at someone is not the answer – hearing loss is often related to distinction, rather than volume. When talking with your child, relative or friend always face them directly so they can see your facial expressions – never turn your back on them or speak from behind your hand as this makes matters worse. Always enunciate clearly and don’t mumble or speak too softly or too quickly as this compounds whatever hearing issues they have.

Understand the loneliness

As a result of hearing loss some people withdraw from social contact – hearing is more difficult in a crowd and a lot of people will stop going to parties or any large-scale gatherings such as family weddings or work-related events. A noisy restaurant is difficult for everyone who is trying to have a conversation and with hearing loss it is much worse – particularly if that person is seated at the end of a long table. Many people reach the point where they think it has become such an effort to participate in these sorts of events that it’s easier not to go at all. Being supportive is not difficult if you plan to improve the hearing environment – if possible choose a quiet corner in a restaurant and if there is background music playing ask the management to reduce the volume – most are very obliging if you explain the problem.

Practical help

There are hearing aids to assist those with hearing loss and today’s technology means these are very advanced. If you’re purchasing assistive devices for a child or helping an adult select something suitable it’s worth checking out Miracle-Ear on BBB or why not join in the company’s one day event on May 1st and experience the effects of hearing loss personally in support of those who live with the condition all the time. You may be surprised at how much you learn.