Social and Emotional Challenges of Hearing Loss

experiencing the emotions of hearing lossHearing is an important part of our daily lives. Whether we use it in our workplace, or with our family members at the dinner table, or with our friends, hearing colors every part of our lives. If you find that you have hearing loss, whether it is a slow deterioration or a sudden loss, you may notice some negative emotional and social impacts.

Emotional

Losing your hearing loss can be emotionally devastating. Like any loss, you may find that you actually go through stages of grief. Denial, anger, and depression are all normal stages as you deal with your hearing loss. Denial may happen as you try to downplay your hearing loss. You might think that people around you are just speaking more softly, or that your telephone is on the fritz. Anger and depression are to be expected as you acknowledge your hearing loss. You are truly grieving a vital part of your life, and trying to learn a new normal, which can be overwhelming.

Anxiety is one emotional aspect of hearing loss that can be overwhelming. Anxiety can stem from many different occurrences. You might find your anxiety building around social situations, especially crowds where conversations are increasingly difficult. Asking people to repeat themselves, or straining to hear even bits of conversations, is exhausting, and you might be anxious about people perceiving you as slow or awkward. Going to a show or a work conference of any sort can be a large source of tension if you are worried about missing important information. Even more intimate settings can be a source of anxiety if you feel as if you are constantly asking others to repeat themselves or speak loudly.

Social

Isolation and stress about social situations are common concerns when one develops hearing loss. Social situations can be challenging, whether they are one-on-one or large groups.

Many people with hearing loss report that they have experienced problems with their primary relationships as a result of their hearing loss. The partner with hearing loss may get frustrated with constantly having to ask their loved one to repeat themselves, or they may simply quit asking and hearing. The partner without hearing loss may find themselves getting exasperated or angry with constantly having to repeat themselves, or feeling like they have not been heard and understood. When both partners have frustrations about communicating, connections might start to shut down or suffer.

Larger social situations that were once enjoyable might become things to be avoided by those with hearing loss. The thought of being unable to hear others in a crowd will often keep people from participating in activities that were once fun. Crowds and parties can be overwhelming and huge sources of anxiety for people with hearing loss, especially if you are in a group that does not understand your challenges.

Work communications can suffer when you have untreated hearing loss. Depending on what sort of work you do, communication is probably important on several levels. Whether you are a teacher who needs to hear her students or a supervisor who needs to actively engage with your employees, not being able to hear clearly can be significant. Missing replies from students in class, or not being able to hear important information from a colleague or employee can affect the back and forth communication that matters. You may also find, with untreated hearing loss, that you remove yourself from work meetings or conferences, which can have a negative effect on your long-term career goals.

Importance of hearing aids

So many negative consequences of hearing loss may seem daunting. The great news is that there are numerous options to help with hearing loss. Whether you have mild or severe hearing loss, today’s technology can help you experience all sorts of sound again. Today’s hearing aids are a far cry from the hearing aids that you might remember your grandfather wearing decades ago. Hearing aids now come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Depending on your hearing loss and your needs, you might choose hearing aids that go over your ear, with a clear tube inserted into your ear canal, or you might choose hearing aids that insert completely into your ear canal, rendering them virtually invisible.

Today’s hearing aids are also much more sophisticated than the older ones that simply amplified sound. Hearing aids now function as mini-computers within your ear. Many hearing aids can be adjusted to fit your hearing needs at that moment. Your hearing aid’s settings might recognize that you are in a crowd, and pick out the sounds of conversation close to you to amplify, while lessening the background distractions. An audiologist can customize your hearing devices to adjust for the different frequencies and ranges that you need assistance with. Some hearing aids come with additional features like Bluetooth connectivity, making phones and televisions much easier to hear. Newer hearing aids also have far fewer issues with whistling and buzzing, so that you can enjoy wearing them without side effects.

Hearing aids can make anxiety around hearing loss disappear. Proper hearing aids are amazing, allowing you to experience both large and small social gatherings again. Instead of avoiding social events, you might find yourself excited to attend them. Close relationships will also improve as you and your loved ones are able to communicate without frustration.

Hearing loss can be so isolating, especially for someone who remembers what it was like to hear well. The isolation and anxiety that often come with hearing loss can be overcome with hearing aids, allowing you to experience all of the richness of the world’s sounds around you!
 


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