Hearing loss may actually be much more common than most people assume, but there are still a lot of facts about it that people who lack direct experience with it fail to comprehend. It is so common that everyone will know someone who lives with it sooner than later, assuming that they are lucky enough to not experience it themselves. You are no exception. Eventually, you will be coping either with your own hearing loss or that of someone close to you. So it is in everyone’s best interests to become familiar with the basic facts about it.
Hearing Loss Is Actually Very Common
Hearing loss can happen to anyone. No one is immune to its risks. And all kinds of completely common risk factors may cause it. Some professions, such as construction or manufacturing, pose a higher risk, and some recreational activities, such as pro sporting events or video games, also do. The level of risk increases over time with increasing exposure. And risks compound each other, meaning someone who works in construction and frequents pro sporting events has a compounded risk.
So it should come as no surprise that almost 14% of the U.S. population lives with some degree of hearing loss. This percentage rises steadily with age until finally, among people aged 75 years old and above, more than half of everyone suffers from it.
Hearing Loss Is Actually Very Serious
Hearing aids are the most common cornerstone of any treatment plan. And hearing aids are widely available and affordable. Today’s hearing aids come with a tremendous range of customizable options to suit your specific needs. And with proper attention and care, hearing loss should have no more impact on your life than wearing eyeglasses.
Yet sadly, research has proven time and again that an astonishingly low number of people treat their hearing loss with the gravity that it deserves. Only around 20% of people with hearing loss wear a hearing aid.
When people deny or minimize their hearing loss and fail to treat it appropriately, more often than not the consequences compound and expand into every aspect of your life. Untreated hearing loss will damage your emotional, psychological and even cognitive health.
How People Fail to Recognize Hearing Loss
Shockingly, hearing loss comes on so incredibly gradually over such an extended period of time, that the majority of people who suffer from it do not even recognize that it is happening. They are subconsciously adapting their behavior in such small ways that they do not even notice it.
Most people who rely on reading lips, for example, do not consciously know that they do so. And almost everyone uses context clues all the time to fill in words or phrases that they failed to catch without even noticing that they are doing so.
This is why fatigue is one of the most common symptoms that people with hearing loss feel first. They are extending all kinds of extra energy just to keep up with conversations and they do not even know that they are doing so.
And when someone does finally recognize and admit that they are having trouble hearing, the most common response is to deny, hide, or minimize it. There are all kinds of psychological and social factors that explain this, but it is never the right choice.
Simplify Communicating with Someone With Hearing Loss
Remember these simple tips when you inevitably find yourself communicating with someone with hearing loss, and they will simplify things for both of you.
—Especially in a group, be certain that you have the person’s attention and everyone is not talking at once.
—Reduce background noise. No music. No TV. Even silence the air vents if possible.
—In public, always head to the quietest corners.
—Face eachFace the each other directly when you speak to help with lip reading.
—For people with hearing loss, communicating is usually exhausting. Remember that they are not being impolite, Their frustration is completely understandable.
—Be patient. They may need an extra second to catch up
—Be kind or they are likely to find it is not worth the bother of trying and will simply withdraw.
—Enunciate and articulate with intentionality.
—Repeat yourself, but slightly rephrase it. Offer synonyms.
—Context helps put the puzzle together. If you only catch the sound far, context helps differentiate between agriculture (farm) or distance (far).
Form New Habits
It is simple to adjustadjunct your behavior in these little ways, and just imagine the difference that these adjustments can make. They can deepen the trust and subtlety that is fundamental to every relationship. Make an appointment with one of our specialists today to take the initiative to maximize your own quality of life and help do the same for those that you care about.
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