Treating Hearing Loss Helps You Stay Socially Connected 

Treating Hearing Loss Helps You Stay Socially Connected

Hearing loss is the third most common health condition older adults experience. This public health epidemic impacts over 30 million people who have impaired hearing in one or both ears. Because hearing loss often happens gradually over time, it is often overlooked and undertreated. This means that there are millions of people who are currently dealing with untreated impaired hearing. Hearing loss can make communication challenging which impacts relationships, job performance, and overall health. Strained communication can especially affect engaging with others causing people to withdraw from social activity. However, by effectively treating hearing loss, communication can considerably improve, allowing people to navigate social environments with greater ease!

Impact of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors including environmental exposure to loud noise, existing medical conditions, and genetic history; effecting the auditory system and the way we hear. This results in a reduced ability to hear and process sound which can have a profound impact on one’s life. Hearing loss can lead to:

 

  • Strained Communication: having conversations with others can become difficult when hearing is restricted (especially in environments with background noise). Sounds can seem muffled so hearing distinct words can be tough. People with hearing loss may rely on others to speak loudly, repeat themselves, moving to quieter areas to have conversations, needing others to speak slowly, reading mouths etc. Because conversations can be difficult to follow entirely, there can be greater miscommunication and gaps of information. This impacts the quality of a conversation and requires people to expend more energy which can be tasking and create an unpleasant interaction. 
  • Social Withdrawal: The work of having a conversation can outweigh the pleasure of spending time with others. It is common to feel stress and anxiety which can lead to an avoidance of social settings, gatherings, activities etc. This kind of isolation results in spending less time with family and friends which creates distance and tension. Withdrawing from your community and support system strains relationships.

 

Strained communication and social withdrawal can significantly impact one’s overall health. Being less connected to others can take a toll on emotional and mental health. Withdrawing from social environments and quality time with others contributes to stress, loneliness, depression etc. If untreated, hearing loss can worsen and these symptoms will persist which makes moving through daily life more difficult than it needs to be. If you have noticed any changes to your hearing, it is critical to have your hearing tested. Early detection of hearing loss is incredibly beneficial and can help you transition to better hearing more easily.

Benefits of Treatment 

Addressing hearing loss can alleviate symptoms and drastically improve the quality of your life. Treatment begins with assessing your hearing by a hearing healthcare specialist. Hearing tests are an easy and noninvasive way to determine any impairment, degree, and type of hearing loss. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids which feature various technologies that increases one’s ability to hear and supports social connection by:

 

  • Enhancing Communication: hearing aids are innovative electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound; allowing a person to hear much better in various environments. This alleviates the pressure, anxiety, and stress of constantly trying to hear. With hearing aids people can hear and respond without consistently asking others to speak loudly and/or quietly. This allows people to engage in conversation smoothly which significantly improves communication. 
  • Boost Confidence: hearing aids support people acclimating seamlessly in the environment they are in without having to rely on others. This device alleviates the often-exhausting burden of constantly compensating for hearing loss. Being able to easily hear can provide more energy in addition to boosting one’s confidence and sense of independence. This supports people participating fully (in conversations, social activities, meetings etc.) and with greater presence.

 

Treating hearing loss and being able to communicate effectively allows people to stay socially connected. Social connection is critical to living balanced, healthy, and joyous lives. Our relationships with family and friends, hobbies, and spending time with others sustains happiness. This contributes greatly to overall well-being and the longevity, abundance, and quality of one’s life!

Communication at Work – May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

Hearing Consultants Communication At Work May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

Hearing loss is a common condition that millions of people experience. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, nearly one in eight people have some degree of hearing loss in one or both ears; making hearing loss a public health epidemic. This can drastically impact how a person navigates their personal and professional life on a daily basis. Impaired hearing reduces one’s ability to hear which makes communication, essential to how we live our lives, difficult. Strained communication can be eased by addressing hearing loss and practicing a few helpful tips!

Impact on Hearing

Hearing loss restricts the speech and sound a person can absorb, hear, and process. This results in various challenges to communication and engaging in conversations. People with hearing loss often experience:

– Difficulty hearing distinct words and following entire conversation as sounds seem muffled

– Frequently asking others to speak loudly and/or slowly

– Moving to quieter areas to have conversation

– Reading mouths to make out individual words

– Needing others to repeat what they have said

These symptoms of hearing loss require extra effort and energy to hear and participate in conversations. In addition to miscommunication or misinformation, this can cause stress and exhaustion. Conversations can feel like too much work and be an unpleasant experience for everyone involved.

To alleviate these symptoms and to improve communication, it is critical to address hearing loss! Fortunately, there are effective ways to treat impaired hearing which begins by having your hearing assessed. This involves a simple, non-invasive process with a hearing healthcare professional that determines the degree and type of impairment. Hearing loss is most commonly treated with hearing aids which are small electronic devices that help collect, amplify, and process sound. Hearing aids increase one’s ability to hear which can be life changing!

Tips 

In addition to wearing hearing aids, there are several useful tips that can help enhance communication at work including the following:

Learn About Your Hearing Loss 

Using the vast resources and information that are widely available to educate yourself about your hearing loss can help guide you through the process of acclimating to life with impaired hearing. It is important to learn the specifics of your hearing loss, this includes knowing what your hearing needs are, what types of sounds are more difficult to hear, the types of environments that overwork your hearing etc. This information allows you to know what is both helpful and harmful for your hearing health.

Communicate Hearing Loss

Sharing your hearing loss with the people you work with can really help with facilitating more effective communication. Being upfront and letting others know how they can best support you by discussing specific communication strategies (facing you while speaking, being at a comfortable distance, rephrasing rather than rewording when you are struggling etc.) can make communication smoother and prevent miscommunication and frustration.

Identify Workplace Accommodations  

In addition to sharing your hearing loss with coworkers, notifying your employer(s) (supervisor, human resources) can be useful as well. Having a discussion about the accommodations your employer can provide is extremely important. Take some time beforehand to research and learn about the types of accommodations that are possible in the workplace so you know what to advocate for! This includes physical adjustments (moving your work area, creating barriers between you and sources of loud noise etc.), phones that are compatible with your hearing aid, assistive listening devices etc.

Plan for Hearing Needs

Being mindful and planning for your hearing needs in the various work contexts you find yourself in can help you navigate the workplace effectively. This could mean asking for the agenda prior to meetings, keeping extra batteries for hearing aids at work, asking for any accommodations for training in advance etc.

There are countless ways people experience hearing loss and the impact it has on one’s life is unique to that individual. Taking the time to learn all that you can about your hearing loss and advocating for your needs is so beneficial. It can lead to effective communication, your overall success in the workplace, in addition to maintaining your hearing health!