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Know someone suffering from hearing loss?

In generations past, society has unfortunately looked at hearing loss as a sign of a defect. A sign of old age, or in some cases, a sign of lesser intelligence. We now have the opportunity to show that we are a new and more aware generation. We can embrace aging with respect and view hearing loss as an unfortunate, but natural occurrence in life. By society becoming more aware, more accepting, of hearing impairment we lessen the social impact, and therefore reduce the emotional impact, for the hearing impaired individual.

 

Your Role

The most important role of the family and friends of the individual with a suffering from hearing loss is to be supportive. To help the individual to become aware and accepting of their loss, and to become aware of the options available for improved communication. Family and friends themselves need to be aware that a loss of hearing is more than just a hearing problem.

 

Denial

For most, denial of having a loss of hearing is quiet common. In fact, denial is a common initial reaction to most all of the problems that we face. Denial is a primary defense mechanism. Somehow we seem to feel that if we don't acknowledge a problem it will go away. If you, or the individual in your life who has a loss of hearing, seem to be in denial about the hearing loss, it is a normal response. Denial of a hearing loss is a common / natural occurrence. The important thing is to not stay in denial. The problem, the hearing loss, will not go away by denying it. The negative impact the hearing loss has on life will however increase if gone untreated.

Rehabilitation

The important first two steps toward the rehabilitation of a hearing loss are the individual's awareness and acceptance of their loss. How do we do this? How do we help an individual out of denial? Awareness must come before acceptance. A common approach that friends and family often take is to make the individual aware of their hearing loss through teasing, joking or even ridicule. This most often leads to a more defensive response from the individual suffering from the loss of hearing.

 

A serious more caring approach will most likely be the effective way to let someone know that you feel there is a problem. Perhaps having one or two family members / friends sit down and communicate (rather than harass) that you feel that there is a problem, and encourage them to seek a professional evaluation of their hearing. This does not necessarily mean go buy a hearing aid, but rather opens the door for the opportunity to evaluate the hearing and learn more about it. Learning more about the hearing loss heightens the awareness of the problem and can be an effective way to bring about acceptance.

Tips to help the individual suffering from hearing loss

 

Be supportive. Encourage them to seek a professional evaluation of their hearing with a licensed audiologist.

If possible, go with them to the evaluation so that you too can learn as much as possible about the hearing loss.

Encourage them to try amplification if it is recommended, and work with them in learning the proper use and care of the instruments.

With the help of the audiologist, help establish realistic expectations for improvement.

Ask your audiologist for a list of guidelines for optimum communication with the hearing impaired.

Be understanding and patient.

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