For quite a while we have been trying to help people recognise the signs of hearing loss. We have also been trying to encourage people to take action. In an article I wrote called Why You Don't Need Hearing Aids, The Lies You Tell Yourself, I tried to smash the lies we tell ourselves about our hearing. Some people even called it strident! I thought, but hey, I didn't call them gobshites once! Anyway, everything we are saying must be true, a recent article in the Daily Mail (Doyen of legitimate English Journalism that it is) says so. But don't worry, you can continue to put your fingers in your ears and hum to yourself while I explain it to the adults.
The Effect of Hearing Loss on Loved Ones
The article called "Partners of people who are going deaf endure frustration, anger and upset" detailed the effect of untreated hearing loss on the Partners of people suffering it. The article was based on a report from Nottingham University of a review undertaken of 78 separate studies into the effects of hearing loss.
11 of those studies solely concentrated on the feelings of the Partners of people with hearing loss. A further 18 studies focused on the impact of the person with hearing loss and their Partner. The findings were depressingly familiar for me.
Tales of Loss, Frustration & Sadness
The research highlighted that the partners of people losing their hearing endure frustration, anger and upset. All of the familiar complaints were represented, they have to put up with a blaring television. They consistently have to repeat themselves or raise their voice to be heard. One thing caught me by surprise though (see, not all-knowing), the Partners also reported becoming socially isolated.
They spoke about having to attend events alone as their deaf spouse withdraws over fears they will be unable to hear. I have heard this before, but sadly, I never realised the impact on the Partner. Probably because my focus was on the person with hearing loss. But, I am sad I missed it because I know that hearing loss impacts loved ones, I just didn't realise how deep that impact could be.
While those with hearing loss suffer (needless) embarrassment, worry and fear of rejection. It was clear from the studies that both they and their partners experience frustration, anger and upset. The Partners of people with hearing loss said that acting as an interpreter, handling every telephone call, raising their voice, repeating words and avoiding misunderstandings is exhausting.
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Why oh why, oh why? Honestly, why? Hearing loss is generally completely treatable, modern hearing aids are pretty damn exceptional. They are easy to use, easy to wear and they pretty much do what they are supposed to. So why would anyone put up with frustration, loss and emotional pain in their life?
Why Would You Inflict it on a Loved One?
Why would you inflict that on a loved one? Honestly, why?
No One Cares
Believe me, when I say it, no one cares about the fact that you may wear hearing aids. I have said it before, hearing loss is not a statement on you, it just is. Not doing something about a hearing loss that is obvious to everyone, is more of a statement on you. Especially if it is causing so much emotional harm.
Truly, is it more embarrassing to be in control of your own ability to communicate or to stumble through life trying to bluff something while everyone knows you have a problem?
Withdrawal and Lost Opportunity
Steve wrote a great article recently, it was called "My life with hearing loss". In the article, he was very honest about his experiences with hearing loss as he grew up. One of the things that struck me was his sense of lost opportunity and his question of what if? He said
"Looking back, I realise I started to withdraw from group conversations quite a bit, simply because it was the easier to do that than try to follow. I can remember the dread of being in a group and worrying someone might turn to me and say something like, “so, what do you think, Steve?”, to which my only answer could have been, “eh…I have no idea what we are talking about”. I guess some people who knew me back then must have thought I was weird, rude or stupid. I must have answered some people with some things that were totally out of context with what they were saying, I must not have heard a lot of people and misheard a lot more. I also wonder if I would have gotten better grades at school if I’d worn my hearing aids, the grades I left with were decent but could I have done much better?"
Balancing The Voices in Your Head
Steve echoed my own thoughts in the article, I often talk about the voices in your head, the ones who would rob you of your confidence. The wheedly little voices we all know too well. The fact is, that we give them power, they are our own thoughts, not the thoughts of others. He put it eloquently when he said:
"I realise now that it was my own negative thoughts, my own worries that may have held me back in some small things, not my hearing loss, that was just my excuse that I could have easily fixed had I had the self-belief to do so. I should have worn hearing aids at an earlier age, should have embraced it and told everyone I couldn’t hear so well, turns out no-one is really bothered about it, it was just my own concerns. So, I don’t think my life today would be any different if I had perfect hearing, but I could have made the journey a lot easier on myself."
Life is too important not to be living it
So maybe it is time to make your journey a little easier, oh and cut your Partner some needed slack. Life is too important not to be living it.
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Posted by Geoff
Geoffrey (Geoff, anything else makes him nervous) Cooling has been involved with the hearing aid industry for over ten years. He has worked in private practice dispensing hearing aids and as a manufacturer's rep. He has written two books and they are both available on Amazon. He loves technology, passing on knowledge and is legendary for many other things, primarily the amount he curses, his dry and mischievous sense of humour and his complete intolerance of people who are full of themselves. Please feel free to connect with him
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