Why Pretending to Hear Doesn’t Help

Why Pretending to Hear Doesn't Help

Like most hidden disabilities, hearing loss comes with a lot of stigmas that contributes to people’s reluctance to be open about their condition. Hearing loss is often conflated as a sign of old age, impairment and declining mental capacities though this is not always the case.  Because hearing loss is an unseen disability people who suffer can often live in denial rather than dealing with it. This secrecy can have a deleterious effect on professional and personal relationships, affecting job performance and mental and physical health. Hearing loss is ultimately not as easy to hide as one might believe and manifests itself in many ways. Pretending to hear is one of the worst things you can do for your hearing health and your relationships.

Why Pretend to Hear?

Some of us don’t want to interrupt the flow of the conversation or don’t want to do anything that calls attention to our hearing disability.  Often people just don’t have the right tools to know how to deal with developing hearing loss.  In group situations, pretending can be especially tempting. In our culture, it is often considered rude to stop a group conversation and ask everyone to repeat everything just so that we can be filled in over and over again.

The important thing to remember is, everyone pretends – not just those with a hearing loss. Not interrupting is a cultural habit. Pretending occasionally is probably harmless, but when you have hearing loss and you pretend, you give the false impression to others that you can hear better than you do.

The Danger of Pretending

Pretending to hear might seem like a good idea in the moment but the reality is that it has a negative impact on your hearing and your overall health. It won’t be long before you don’t go out with your friends, and start to isolate yourself. With social isolation comes cognitive decline, and further hearing loss. This is a vicious cycle that will get you into allot of trouble.

Pretending to hear can have some serious repercussions at work. Say you’re in a meeting at work and you only hear half of what’s been said. No one at work knows you have hearing loss, and you’re too embarrassed to ask for clarification. You leave the meeting confused about your assignment, and risk making some major mistakes that will hurt your career.

When it comes to communicating with your family, pretending to hear will put you in some awkward situations. If your loved one shares something important with you, and you’ve “forgotten” it a few hours later, they’ll think you weren’t paying attention when the truth is you never heard the information in the first place.  More than anything not hearing and bluffing your way through conversation creates a lack of intimacy and reliability in many of your most important relationships.

Admitting You Have Hearing Loss

If you’ve been struggling through conversations, and you feel like you’re missing a lot, it’s time to honor your relationships and admit that you have hearing loss. Family, friends, and colleagues all want to include you, and will be happy to help you hear if they know you’ve been struggling to hear. Pretending to hear is a temporary fix that will always get you into trouble later, so break the habit of pretending, and start practicing habits that help you hear.  The key to breaking a bad habit is to identify when it’s triggered. Rather than breaking a bad habit, we can simply convert it into a good one. We can change the pretending routine into something constructive. Every time you miss something because of your hearing loss, think of it as an opportunity to improve your current situation and to educate others about your hearing loss for future occasions. 

Hearing Consultants

Once you realize you don’t have to keep your hearing loss secret, you can stop pretending to hear and put your energy into the activity and relationships that make you feel happy and fulfilled in life. Contact us at Hearing Consultants to set up a hearing test.  We can diagnose exactly what kind of hearing loss you have and help you find the best treatment to help you hear to your fullest potential and stop pretending to hear once and for all.

Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss

Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss

 

Hearing loss is an ailment that develops over time so you don’t realize how bad it has become. Over time, you may not be able to hear people talking around you clearly. They may seem to be speaking too quietly or you may not be able to make out certain words and phrases. Many people experience trouble working out exactly who’s speaking to you in a noisy room. The effort of trying to understand may be making you feel tired, frustrated, lonely or depressed. If you have any of these problems then there is a very good chance you are suffering from hearing loss.

The Hard Facts of Hearing Loss

In the U.S., 15 percent of adults over the age of 18, or 48 million people, report having trouble hearing. Of adults aged 65-74, a quarter have a disabling hearing loss, and 50 percent of adults over the age of 75 have a disabling hearing loss.  While hearing aids have been proven to help in most cases of hearing loss, of the adults aged 20-69 who could benefit from wearing hearing aids, only 16 percent have ever tried them. Sadly, when someone suspects they have hearing loss, on average, it takes people ten years to seek treatment.

Untreated Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is an invisible condition. Although it is increasingly prevalent with age, hearing loss is often ignored during the diagnosis and treatment of cognitive and memory disorders in elderly patients. Untreated hearing loss is associated with lower quality of life, depression, social isolation, unemployment and lower earnings at work, higher medical bills for other health issues, high blood pressure and even a higher risk of dangerous trips and falls. When you have hearing loss your brain has to struggle to interpret what is being said and other parts of your brain’s functions are drawn away from other important cognitive tasks to compensate. The sooner you treat a hearing loss the faster your brain can stop compensating, relearn to hear and ultimately recover.

When You Suspect You Have Hearing Loss

The start of an age-related hearing problem can be subtle. It’s important to pay attention to those first signs so you can act before the problem can start to seriously impact your life. Common signs of hearing loss include;

Children’s voices sound muffled or unclear. When aging takes a toll on your cochlea, the inner ear organ that helps you hear, the cells that detect high-pitched sounds are usually the first to fail. This can make it harder to understand anyone with a high-pitched voice.

You can’t follow the conversation in noisy places. Age-related changes in how the brain processes sound can also make it harder to ignore background noise.

You’re exhausted after social events. When you can’t hear all the sounds of speech, your brain has to fill in the gaps to make sense of what others are saying. That takes a great deal of focus, especially when there’s more than one person speaking at a time. All this effort may leave you tired after social events.

You’re watching people’s lips instead of making eye contact.

Your TV volume keeps getting higher. If others in your house complain that the TV is too loud, it’s time to get your hearing checked.

Treatments for Hearing Loss

There are varied degrees in which a person’s hearing loss can manifest. There are those who experience hearing loss only when they hear soft and moderate sounds. In this case, medical interventions can still be made to correct the problem. Hearing aids and devices such as cochlear implants may be used. They may also be taught more complicated strategies in communication so they can easily understand the speaker. Whether you use hearing aids, a cochlear implant or you simply have mild, untreated hearing loss, learning new communication strategies is a great idea.

Hearing Consultants

If any of these symptoms sound familiar contact us at Hearing Consultants.  We can schedule you a hearing test and determine your hearing abilities. If a hearing loss is detected, we can help you find the best hearing aids for your lifestyle.  Contact us today – you have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

How Treating Hearing Loss Supports Your Brain

A hand holding a head with cogs inside of it

 

Hearing loss is a common part of aging, with approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 experiencing hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 having difficulty hearing. While this is normal, avoiding hearing loss treatment can have serious effects on your brain.

Neuroplasticity’s Effect on the Brain

A study done at the University of Colorado’s Department of Speech Language and Hearing Science examined neuroplasticity, which is how the brain reorganizes itself by forming new neuron connections throughout a lifetime.  The study explored how neuroplasticity effects the adaptation of the brain after the onset of hearing loss. The study explores the questions: How does the brain adapt to hearing loss and what are the implications?

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change at any age. While it was previously believed that the brain was at unable to grow and evolve, scientists now know this is not true. In the case of hearing loss, the area of the brain devoted to hearing can actually become reorganized, or reassigned to other functions. In this study the participants were adults and children with varying degrees of hearing loss. Some had only mild hearing loss while others were severely hearing impaired or deaf. Using up to 128 sensors attached to the scalp of each subject, the team of researchers used EEG recordings to measure brain activities in response to sound stimulation. In doing this, they were able to understand how the brains of people with different degrees of hearing loss respond differently than those of people with healthy hearing.

One of the most important discoveries researchers came away with on this study was when hearing loss occurs, areas of the brain devoted to other senses such as vision or touch will actually take over the areas of the brain which normally process hearing. It’s a phenomenon called cross-modal cortical reorganization, which is reflective of the brain’s tendency to compensate for the loss of other senses. Essentially, the brain adapts to a loss by rewiring itself.  While this re-organization is an impressive testament to the adaptability of the human mind this reorganization can have a seriously detrimental effect on cognition.

Even early stages of hearing loss can lead to cognitive decline.

Why Hearing Health Matters

Compensatory brain reorganization may explain why age-related hearing loss is so strongly correlated with dementia, and why it must be taken seriously. Even in the early stages of hearing loss, the brain begins to reorganize. Knowing this, the solution could be as simple as early hearing loss screening programs for adults. Getting ahead of the decline through early intervention could prevent long term cognitive issues down the road. Aside from the realization that hearing loss can affect the very memories that make up your life hearing loss effects so many aspects of mental and brain health.

Healthy hearing and early intervention in the event of any degree hearing loss are essential to maintaining strong cognitive function. According to an April 2014 study published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, 11.4% of adults with self-reported hearing impairment have moderate to severe depression, significantly larger than the 5.9% prevalence of depression for those with typical hearing.

When a person cannot hear properly, engaging in conversations is a daily struggle, and can lead to social isolation and depression. In people 65 years and older, hearing impairment is among the most common chronic conditions associated with depression. In addition to depression, hearing loss has been linked to schizophrenia. which supports the social defeat hypothesis. This hypothesis proposes that social exclusion and loneliness can predispose people to schizophrenia by an increase in sensitization of the dopamine system.

Prevent Cognitive Decline

While hearing aids have proven over and over again to help with hearing loss and cognitive decline, less than 25 percent of people who need hearing aids actually get them. The average time someone with hearing loss waits to seek treatment is seven years, which is a tremendous period of cognitive decline that is easily preventable.

Contact us at Hearing Consultants to set up a hearing test.  From your hearing test, we can diagnose exactly whether a hearing loss is present, and if so, the best way to treat it.  Contact us today and start the process to improving your hearing and cognitive health!