There are times when those of us with hearing loss feel like Madi did when I shot this photo.
Listening to a friend describe her frustration and tears yesterday trying to find solutions to her hearing loss, and a subsequent conversation about it with Eloise got me to thinking. So here are a few of those thoughts.
Some of the problems
1. High frequency hearing loss, which is what most of us suffer from, isn’t so much about not hearing the sounds, but about not being able to make sense of them. We don’t hear the consonants that define words.
2. Even the very best hearing aids only partially fix our ability to discern the consonants, and thus understand the words.
3. It takes us longer to process — to make sense out of — what we hear. Our brains are having to work harder, analyzing more clues, making more guesses, to get it right. Even the microseconds it takes for the sound to travel from the hearing aid to the ear has been shown to increase processing time, and many of the newest behind the ear aids now put the speaker in the ear as a result.
4. Background noise of any kind — TV, radio, road noise, restaurant noise, etc. — interferes with understanding. Part of a good hearing test simulates this. The better your hearing aids the more help you get with this through isolating and elevating speech volume and lowering the volume of other sounds.
5. Because we’re having to work harder to understand, we become fatigued faster. And when we’re already tired, it’s worse.
How you can help
1. Recognize that we’re having to work harder and that it takes longer for us to understand. Give us time to process. Don’t just repeat more loudly unless we ask.
2. Give us more clues. Look at us when you talk to us. Give us more verbal clues to improve our guessing.
3. Recognize the problems background noises give us. Reduce them when you can. Help us out when you can’t.
If you have hearing loss
1. Get help. Not only are you missing out on lots of important stuff, you’re increasing your chances of Alzheimers, depression, and other illnesses by not having your hearing corrected.
2. Find a good audiologist who will work with you, do research, and go out of their way to try to solve your problems.
3. Be persistent in working with your audiologist to get good results. If they’re not getting it done, return the hearing aids, and find another audiologist.
4. Buy the best technology, and go back in regularly to keep it tuned up and working optimally.