Anyone with hearing loss knows it can be tough to explain to others just what you’re going through. You can describe how sounds seem muffled, or how you feel so exhausted after a day straining to hear. Do you have a loved one with hearing loss, and want to understand what they’re going through? Hearing loss is often called an invisible disability, because you can’t tell by looking at someone that they’re struggling to hear, so you can’t easily tell what your loved one is up against. Here are some of the things people with hearing loss wish you knew.
Hearing Loss Is Exhausting
People with hearing loss work way harder to hear than you do. They use much of their energy straining to hear what you’ve said, and even if they catch most of it, their brain is working so hard just to pick up the sounds that they barely have the brain power left over to make sense of the words you’ve said. Unlike those with normal hearing, who can hear automatically, those with hearing loss have to consciously struggle to hear anytime someone speaks to them. Doing this for a whole day is extremely exhausting, and those with hearing loss often feel completely drained, and avoid social interactions after a long day at the office.
I’m Not Rude
Have you ever said hello to someone in your local grocery store and had them completely ignore you? Did you feel like your friend was being rude to you, and was purposefully choosing not to answer? Since hearing loss is an invisible disability, you might not recognize that the person you spoke to has hearing loss. They weren’t being rude to you; they simply didn’t hear what your said. Rather than jumping to conclusions, try saying hello again and see what happens.
Has someone given you an answer that shocked you, or didn’t seem to match the question you asked? If they said no and you were expecting a yes, don’t assume they were being rude, but ask for clarification and make sure they actually heard the question correctly.
Hearing Aids Aren’t Magic
While we all wish that hearing aids could magically restore hearing, the truth is that they can’t. Hearing technology helps people hear in background noise, follow conversations with ease, and locate where sounds are coming from. However, they can’t magically turn back time, or give people new ears.
Hearing aids don’t work like glasses. If you have trouble seeing, glasses will take a blurry image and make it crystal clear. Hearing aids amplify sounds, and help you focus on the sounds you want to hear, but can’t restore damage done to your ears. Even with hearing aids, those with hearing loss will have some trouble distinguishing between background sounds and speech sounds, and you’ll need to be patient with your loved ones with hearing aids.
I Still Have A Voice
Just because someone has hearing loss doesn’t mean they don’t have an opinion, or don’t want to use their own voice. For example, if you’re out for dinner with a friend with hearing loss and they have trouble hearing the waiter, don’t jump in and order for them. Rather, ask the waiter to repeat the specials, or ask your friend what they didn’t understand. Empower them to make their own decisions and use their voice.
Don’t Yell at Me
Did you recently have a conversation with your loved one with hearing loss? Were you tempted to raise your voice? Those with hearing loss wish you knew that yelling doesn’t help. In fact, shouting can distort the speech sounds, and make it harder to understand what you’ve said. When you yell, rather than helping your loved one hear you just sound angry or annoyed, and it makes it more difficult to have a conversation.
Posey Hearing Center
If you have a loved one with hearing loss, encourage them to seek treatment for their hearing loss, and get back to hearing. You want your relationship to stay strong, so help them learn more about hearing loss, and offer to visit Posey Hearing Center with them to take the first step in doing the right thing for their hearing health.