Hearing loss is an invisible disability that can cause incredible frustration between family members, friends, and workmates. You probably know first hand, how it creates havoc in the home, in the car, at work, in restaurants and in so many other social situations.
Because hearing loss usually happens so gradually, the signs and symptoms are hard to detect in the beginning. First, you may notice, that there has been a gradual increase in the volume of the TV, or when you go to a noisy restaurant or cafe it is a mild struggle to catch all parts of a conversation and therefore chat with each other. You feel left out of the conversation.
Next, as your hearing loss progresses, you find yourself avoiding certain social situations, struggling to communicate at work or on the phone and withdrawing generally. What may be surprising for you, is that family and friends are more frustrated by the hearing loss than you, the person with the hearing loss. Why is this?
Mary and her husband came to see me last week for a consultation.
“I had a hearing test some years ago. And was told I would be able to live without hearing aids a little bit longer. I thought I would just have to lean into others to hear them or ask them to repeat themselves. After all, the fact that they were not speaking clearly was the main problem”
Her husband pipes in saying, “I am tired of repeating myself and having to go to her so she can hear me. And the TV is just too loud. The neighbours are complaining to me about it. We have been married for 30 years but this is destroying our relationship. We just don’t get to have a normal conversation anymore.”
Think about it. This loving couple are finding themselves increasingly frustrated with each other, all because of … Marys’ hearing loss, right. WRONG!
The frustration everyone is feeling is caused by a breakdown in communication. Now don’t get me wrong, hearing loss is frustrating for all parties involved. However, there are always at least TWO people involved when we communicate and therefore when any communication breaks down.
There are common sense tools that help you communicate easier and help those with hearing loss and those who are around someone with hearing loss. And guess what they make a difference!
First things first, it takes two to tango!
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Nolene Nielson is an experienced Australian Audiologist who is passionate about hearing. This article was first published at hearingcareprofessionals.com.au.