I Don’t Hear Very Well, How About You?

July 31, 2013 by Claudia Côté

I Don't Hear Very Well, How About You?

Attitude makes all the difference!

The most significant impact of deafness is, without argument, social withdrawal and isolation. Loss of hearing quickly causes communication problems, which leads to, for many people, feeling less at ease socially. They may be so embarrassed that they are discouraged from mixing with other people.

However, it is equally a question of attitude. Barring some sort of auditory trauma or an accident, deafness develops slowly and is often not apparent to the person affected. Loved ones are often the first to notice and if someone close to you suggests that you have a problem, they’re probably right!

If this occurs, you’ll be faced with two choices:

You can simply deny it! Pretend that nothing is wrong! Accuse people of having poor articulation or mumbling, and, like most people, take over ten years before seeking help for the first time! People in this situation often hide behind certain prejudices: “There’s no way I’m going to wear a hearing aid, my ears will get lazy”, or: “Wearing a hearing aid will make me deafer.” These opinions are not only false, but research has proven exactly the opposite!

Your other choice is to face up to the fact. Consult an audiologist without further delay, not only to identify if you have a hearing loss, but if it is within the normal range for your age group. Once the extent of your hearing loss has been determined, you’ll feel more comfortable informing people in your social circle that you are not absent-minded, nor confused, nor unsociable, but simply lacking a certain percentage of your auditory acuity and precision, especially in the presence of noise. By accepting reality, you will facilitate your own adaptation as well as that of your loved ones to this problem (believe me!). You can then begin reducing any communication difficulties by employing certain methods.

Tell your loved ones that seeing their face and the movement of their lips increases your level of understanding by about 30%. That saying your name before speaking to you allows you the chance to pay attention and not miss the beginning of the sentence. That when there is a loud ambient noise, your ability to understand becomes almost nil (suggest to them that they talk with you in the adjoining room where it is quieter).

You may also be surprised to notice how patient and kind people can be once they are aware of your hearing problem. Don’t forget to thank them when they speak clearly.  Your politeness will encourage them to continue to do so. Humour is also an important attribute! Accepting your deafness is a little like being able to laugh at yourself and having others laugh with you.

Since we cannot always change things or people, we have to ask ourselves what we can do to improve a situation that we have not chosen.  Those darn lost decibels will demand some sacrifices on your part to compensate for! Opt for hearing aids or technical aids. If your favourite restaurant has become too loud to be able to enjoy opt instead for a new, quieter place, or better yet, try taking lunch at 2 in the afternoon!

Your loved ones sometimes forget that you don’t understand if they speak too quickly?  Memory is something which comes and goes…you may have to remind them repeatedly. Being proactive means, at all costs, not trying to hide your hearing problem! If you pretend to understand, others will catch on quickly, they’re not stupid. Behaving in this way can be considered insulting, or even give the false impression that you’re losing control of your mental faculties.

Together, we can break out of the isolation!