Hearing loss can feel confusing, isolating, and embarrassing
If you experience hearing loss or have recently been diagnosed with a form of hearing loss, you’ve probably felt things that many folks with hearing loss also feel – maybe a little isolated, maybe a bit embarrassed, or maybe even scared or nervous.
We hear about these feelings and concerns from our patients all the time, and we’ve helped many of our patients navigate discussions with their families, friends, and loved ones to help them lead happy, healthy lives with hearing loss.
If your family and friends haven’t ever interacted with someone with hearing loss before, they may not know how best to support you or what to expect. They also may have no idea what you’re going through, but I bet they care deeply about supporting you nonetheless, and they won’t know how best to support you unless you tell them.
Feeling nervous about these discussions? Read on for a few steps and tips from our hearing care providers to get you started.
Talk openly about your hearing loss experience
While hearing loss is incredibly common in the world today, the majority of your family probably has no idea what it’s like, so sharing about your experience is a great way to open the door to the conversation.
Whether or not you’ve been officially diagnosed with hearing loss by a professional, you probably have a good idea of what your own unique experience with hearing loss is like. But if you’re struggling to explain it, think about these questions to get started:
- What sounds are easiest for you to hear? What sounds are hardest?
- Do you struggle to hear high-pitched sounds or low-pitched ones?
- Can one of your ears hear better than the other?
- What volume of speaking is best to help you hear?
- What environmental factors are most impactful on your ability to hear?
Ultimately, you know your ears best, and taking the time to speak about your experience openly and candidly can create a level playing field for the next part of your important conversations: asking for support.
Determine the best ways others can support you, and ask for that support directly
After getting your loved ones up to speed on how you experience hearing loss, be sure you come to the table with some specific ways your family can support you, too. Think about the big things and the little things. Some examples we’ve heard from our patients include:
- “It would be helpful for me if you would get my attention and make eye contact with me before speaking to me.”
- “When we’re having a conversation, help me limit background noise so I can focus on what you’re saying better.”
- “I will be better able to understand what you’re saying if you speak slowly and clearly.”
As we all know, each individual experiences hearing loss differently, and thus your exact needs for how your loved ones can support you in this experience will be unique to you.
Make it an ongoing discussion
As much as you may want it to be, this initial conversation will not be the last you have with your loved ones about your hearing loss and the ways they can support you! As your hearing loss progresses or changes over time, and as you get more familiar with your unique experience with hearing loss, your list of needs will likely change, so it’s important to keep your family and friends in the loop with what’s working and what’s not working with how they are offering support.
Don’t be afraid to bring up new ways they can support you or make adjustments to what you’ve asked for in the past. Like we’ve said before, your loved ones want to help, but they really need you to tell them how to help first.
We know that hearing loss can make you feel alone and misunderstood, but it doesn’t have to feel that way! By having some meaningful conversations with your loved ones and not being afraid to ask for a little bit of support, hearing loss can be a very manageable piece of your life.
If you’re in need of a little professional support or are ready to seek treatment for your hearing loss, our friendly team is ready to help! Schedule an appointment with your local Beltone Tristate practice to get a free hearing test and take control of your hearing loss today.