Addressing the psychological aspects of hearing loss should be part of any hearing health prescription. Your doctor or audiologist may recommend hearing aids, but that’s just the beginning. Although often considered a “normal” part of aging, hearing loss does not mean that it is easy to accept or tolerate. It is important to address the psychological impact as well.
Navigating hearing loss requires a multifaceted approach, including the right mindset, all kinds of technology tools, and non-technical communication game-changers like self-advocacy and reading aloud.
one piece of puzzle
“Many people hope that hearing aids will cure their hearing loss, like glasses for vision problems. Unfortunately, they don’t,” said audiologist and former president of the Washington State Academy of Hearing. explains Kevin Liebe.
“We needed to recognize these feelings in order to develop practical skills to live better with hearing loss.”
Hearing aids make it easier to understand speech, especially in quiet environments, but they are not a silver bullet, especially in noisy environments. Other strategies and techniques are needed to make communication more seamless, including those that help people cope with the psychological consequences of hearing loss.
“I’ve struggled with hearing loss all my adult life, but after joining the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and learning best practices from other people with hearing loss, I’ve been able to manage my hearing loss successfully.” Attorney in New York City.
Cohen is co-executive producer of the award-winning documentary We Hear You. This documentary highlights some of the daily challenges faced by people with hearing impairments.
“Hearing loss makes it difficult to socialize. I often found myself frustrated and exhausted in my efforts to hear conversations. I had to acquire the necessary skills.”
Cohen isn’t the only one with emotional reactions to hearing loss. When Richard Pocker, Mary Grace Whalen, and Robin Chisholm-Seymour started his Facebook group called Hearing Loss: The Emotional Side, they were overwhelmed with interest.
Within a month they had almost 1000 members. People with hearing impairments were nervous because there were few outlets through which they could share their feelings of loss, anger, frustration and grief.
3 skills you need to live well with hearing loss
Most people enter life with hearing loss unprepared. They don’t know what to expect and may not know other people with hearing impairments to “tell you the tricks.”
An audiologist can provide some perspective, but much of the treatment process revolves around assessment and hearing aid fitting. As a result, there is little time left for emotional counseling and practical suggestions for improving communication.
What is missing is the full picture of hearing loss. It’s a real-life example of how hearing loss, its emotions, and its disability affect every corner of your life. In “Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss,” co-author Gael Hannan and I provide this necessary background and share his three-legged stool of hearing loss and the skills it takes to live well. . Positive attitude change, all kinds of technology tools. , and behavioral changes that can improve any listening situation.
Internal attitudes about the progression of forms of hearing loss
“Many people have mixed feelings about their hearing loss,” explains Abram Bailey, audiologist and CEO of HearingTracker, a leading online hearing aid review site. “Hearing loss is often an unwanted, unwanted disruption of life. But it’s important to take the time to recognize its impact.”
People with hearing loss must learn how to confidently reconstruct difficult listening situations.
People often struggle with stigma, anger, and frustration, but reframing these unproductive attitudes into positive, actionable statements accelerates adaptation. I want to listen as often as I used to.” Changing this attitude of “I want to communicate better” (which requires more effort than hearing aids) is essential for our communication.
As people with hearing loss look at their hearing loss in a new light, they find that other strategies (including devices) seem to work well. In fact, the use of a wide range of technical tools gives us flexibility in communication.
About hearing aids
Hearing aids are a key component of our technological tools, but they are not always sufficient, especially in difficult hearing situations. “The good news is that technology is advancing rapidly,” explains Bailey. This includes advances in hearables as well as traditional hearing aid technology.
For example, Apple AirPods Pro can enhance hearing in some situations. In addition, the upcoming launch of commercial hearing aids aimed at people with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss will expand the range of products that provide hearing assistance.
Additionally, Liebe recommends speech-to-text technology, including smartphone apps such as Live Transcribe and Otter.ai, as well as the use of automatic captioning features in Zoom calls.
People often struggle with prejudice, anger, and frustration, and restructuring these unproductive attitudes accelerates adaptation.
“Anything that can translate spoken words into text can help bridge the communication gap created by hearing loss, especially in the world of face masks,” says Liebe.
A communication game changer can help transform conversations, a key opportunity for people to learn. For example, they read aloud subconsciously, but otherwise have to learn. Therefore, even small changes in communication behavior can greatly improve the quality of conversations.
“I’m sometimes called a lip reader, but I was doing speech reading for years before I knew I was doing it,” Cohen says. “So it obscured important visual cues and made it difficult to communicate with the face mask.”
Communication best practices such as getting the other person’s attention first and speaking face-to-face are important. Also, self-advocacy skills are important. Likewise, people with hearing loss must learn to reconstruct difficult listening situations with confidence.
Hear & Beyond’s HEAR tool explains how to assess and adjust any situation for successful communication. Swapping seats or moving to different locations frequently can also make all the difference.
Living Well with Hearing Loss
If you’re struggling, whether intentional or not, you may be ignoring the psychological aspects of your hearing loss, which can keep you from moving forward.
Thankfully, a three-pronged approach can help. First, with the right attitude, all kinds of technology tools, and a positive approach to each communication context, people with hearing loss can stay engaged and connected with the people and activities they love.