One of the biggest side effects of hearing loss is not just how you struggle to hear others but how that directly affects your relationships with the people closest to you. You may experience a strain between your significant other, your children, relatives and even your friend family as constant misunderstandings build up into rifts that require focus to heal. One of the best ways to start to heal this rift is to treat your hearing loss with hearing aids. These spectacular devices help to bridge the communication gap by amplifying the sounds you may struggle with. While hearing aids definitely help, they cannot perfectly mimic original hearing, which is irreversible in most cases once it begins its decline. It takes time to adjust to hearing aids.
Relearning to communicate with hearing aids
It may take weeks to get used to hearing aids. It is a good idea to start slowly and try wearing them for just a few hours a day and slowly push yourself to wear them longer and longer. Hearing aids work best when they are worn all day from the time you wake, till you go to sleep, only to be removed when bathing or swimming. It may be jarring for many, when you have not been used to hearing sounds for many years. Suddenly, the sound of the wind, the street sounds of traffic and even the sound of your own voice may seem jarring. Give yourself some time to get used to the new sounds around you. Let your family know that this process is new and that it can go smoother with their help will make this easier on everyone around you.
What can your family do to support you with hearing?
Unlike eyeglasses which automatically improve your hearing ability as soon as you put them on, hearing aids, it’s important for your family to understand that it takes time to get used hearing aids. You have to relearn how to hear with these devices, especially for those who have let their hearing decline untreated, for many years. On average most wait 7 to 10 years from the time they suspect they have a hearing loss to invest in hearing aids and by then the strain on relationships has become well established. In addition, while hearing aids truly are amazing and life changing devices, they don’t return your hearing ability to the hearing you may have had in your 20’s. Noisy situations can be difficult for hearing aid users, no matter how well your hearing aids have been adjusted. Let your family know that they may have to take extra steps to help you hear and understand when in a crowded store, street or venue.
Tips your family can use to help you hear better
Because hearing loss is an invisible disability, it is all too easy for family members to forget to make accommodations to help you hear. Ask those who you see the most, to make sure to make eye contact when speaking to you. The easier you can see them when speaking the more you can rely on body language and even lip reading to supplement what you may have missed in the audio realm. Other helpful tips include asking your family and friends to avoid using slang or shortening their words as this can add confusion when you struggle with hearing. Most of all you may have to ask people to repeat themselves, but often it’s a certain consonant or tone which is being lost due to your hearing loss. Ask people speaking in these instances, to rephrase the comment rather than repeat. This adds context and gives you more of a chance to understand the intent.
Advocate for your hearing
It is all too easy to pretend you understand when you can’t hear, but this type of behavior is what can often create rifts in families and friendships in the first place. When you are open and communicative about what you require, to hear your best, then it ensures that you can continue to rebuild and heal distance which may have built up over years.
If you suspect that you do have a hearing loss and it’s been causing distance in your relationships do not hesitate to make an appointment to have your hearing tested. This way you can know exactly the status of your hearing ability and you can get on the path of healing the important relationships with the people closest to you.