Do you have a loved one living with hearing loss? It can be hard to explain hearing loss to someone who’s never experienced it. Your loved one may tell you that it’s hard to follow conversations. They might tell you it sounds like you’re always mumbling. Maybe they tell you that they are sensitive to loud noise, or they’re always asking you to turn off background music. These are a few things your loved one with hearing loss wishes you knew.
Hearing Aids Aren’t the Same as Glasses
It’s a common misconception that hearing aids are the same as glasses. When you put on glasses, your vision can be restored. The blurry world suddenly becomes clear again. However, putting on a pair of hearing aids doesn’t work the same way. Hearing aids can help you hear all the sounds around you, but it can’t restore the hearing that you’ve lost. This means that some sounds will always be difficult to hear. For example, it will still be hard to hear conversations in places with background noise.
Hearing Loss is Invisible
Hearing loss has often been called an invisible disability. That’s because you can’t tell if someone has hearing loss just by looking at them. And even though you know your loved one has hearing loss, you may forget that they have a hard time hearing you. Your loved one wishes you’d remember they have hearing loss. Never ignore their hearing loss, downplay the significance of their hearing loss, or invalidate their experiences with hearing loss.
Your loved one has to explain to family and friends that they have hearing loss, or ask for accommodations to help them hear. Do your best to remember what accommodations they need so they won’t have to ask you again.
Hearing Loss Leads to Exhaustion
Straining to hear all day is extremely exhausting. If you have hearing loss, your brain works hard to piece together the sounds in your environment and fill in the missing sounds. Understanding speech is even harder, and requires even more effort. By the end of the day, your loved one with hearing loss may be completely exhausted. If they don’t have any energy, remember that hearing loss leads to exhaustion. If they have a hard time following what you’re saying in the evening, don’t get upset. They are doing the best they can to hear you.
Hearing Loss Causes Misunderstandings
Has your loved one misunderstood something you’ve said? Hearing loss can cause misunderstandings, but your loved one wishes you knew this doesn’t mean they’re stupid. When your loved one answers in a way that doesn’t make sense, don’t assume they’re confused. Instead, realize they misheard and misunderstood what you said. Rephrase what you said and try again.
Hearing Loss Causes Social Misunderstandings
Did you recently see your friend hearing loss at the grocery store, but felt like they ignored you? If you said hello but didn’t make eye-contact, your loved one probably didn’t hear you. People with hearing loss wish you knew that they’re not being rude or purposely ignoring you. Sometimes hearing loss leads to social misunderstandings, so remember that the person might not have you, and they weren’t being rude.
Hearing Loss Doesn’t Remove Someone’s Agency
Have you been at a restaurant and ordered for your friend with hearing loss? Your loved one wishes you knew how helpless this makes them feel. Just because they didn’t hear the waiter ask for their order doesn’t mean you should order for them. Instead, draw their attention to the waiter, and let them speak for themselves. Hearing loss shouldn’t remove their agency.
Your Loved One with Hearing Loss Appreciates Your Help
People with hearing loss can use a little extra help when it comes to hearing. There are a few simple ways to help your loved one hear.
- Make sure you get their attention before you start speaking.
- Keep your hands away from your face and face them directly.
- Don’t get frustrated if you need to repeat what you said.
- Rephrase what you said rather than repeating it word for word.
Try these tips to help your loved one hear clearly, and remember the things people with hearing loss wish you knew. If you are concerned about your hearing abilities or that of a loved one, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test!