Have you been living with untreated hearing loss? Do you struggle to follow conversations, or often get lost in group situations? If you’ve been straining to hear, you need to think about disclosing your hearing loss to your loved ones and friends, and open up about your hearing health. Talking about hearing loss can be a challenge, and there is a negative stigma around hearing loss. Many people think that talking about their hearing loss is like admitting that they’re getting older, and no one wants to think of themselves as being old. Sadly, this stops many people from seeking treatment, and your hearing loss will deteriorate rapidly, leading to a host of negative health effects.
Why Your Disclosure Method Matters
Disclosing your hearing loss can have a bigger impact than you might think, and the way you choose to talk about your hearing loss can have some serious repercussions. A recent study from Massachusetts Eye and Ear interviewed a number of seniors with hearing loss to learn more about disclosure methods and their outcomes. Jessica S. West, lead author on the study, showed that disclosure methods really matter, and affect your health and your life in profound ways. There are three main disclosure methods that people use to talk about their hearing loss with family and friends.
The first disclosure method is nondisclosure, which as the name suggests isn’t really a disclosure method at all, but is more of an avoidance tactic. Nondisclosures were very reluctant to talk about their hearing loss, and acted as if they weren’t struggling to hear. They didn’t acknowledge their hearing loss, and often denied that they were struggling to hear if someone questioned their hearing abilities. They’d say things someone with normal hearing would say, such as “speak up, I can’t hear you,” and didn’t use any words that would suggest a hearing loss.
This group of people had very negative health outcomes. They lived with their hearing loss many years, struggled with anxiety and social isolation, and didn’t get a lot of support from family since their loved ones didn’t realize that the person couldn’t hear very well. They were also more likely to have depression, experience rapid cognitive decline, or an earlier onset of dementia.
The second disclosure method people employ when talking about their hearing loss is basic disclosure. These individuals do talk about their hearing loss from time to time, and their loved ones probably know they have hearing loss. They’ll give a few more details when talking about their hearing, and may say something like “I’m a bit hard of hearing” or “I’m deaf in my right ear.” They’ll be a bit more open about their hearing loss, and they do have better health outcomes than those who ignore their hearing loss.
Those with basic disclosure strategies have a bit more support from their love ones, and were somewhat more likely to seek treatment for their hearing loss. They had an easier time in conversations, since the people they were talking with were willing to repeat things or find other ways to make communication easier.
The third disclosure strategy is multipurpose disclosure. These individuals freely talked about their hearing loss, told their loved ones they were struggling to hear, and were happy to provide as many details as possible about their hearing loss. They would talk about their hearing in any situation where it affected their ability to communicate, and even suggested ways that their loved ones could help them hear. Multipurpose disclosures are ready to talk about their hearing loss, and will say things like “I have hearing loss, could you please face me when you talk so that I’ll be able to hear you.”
Multipurpose disclosers had the best health outcomes, had amazing support from friends and family, and were more likely to treat hearing loss with a quality pair of hearing devices, helping them hear in every situation, and giving them clear communication.
Posey Hearing Center
If you have hearing loss, become a multipurpose discloser, and open up about your hearing loss! Then visit us at Posey Hearing Center to talk about your hearing loss, and find the perfect hearing devices to match your hearing needs.