This is a guest post by Steve Claridge.
The number of people with a hearing problem is much higher than you might think. The Hearing Association of America puts the number of people in the USA with a hearing problem at 48 million; to put that another way: 1 in 5 people have some level of hearing loss.
You are not alone but it certainly can feel like it
Hearing loss is a very isolating condition. If you can’t hear what people are saying then it is all too easy to drop out of conversations, to just nod when someone says something. You might even be avoiding situations where hearing is difficult and as your hearing gets you avoid more and more problem conversations until you’re barely talking with anyone.
I know this happens because I have done it myself and still do it sometimes. I wear hearing aids that enable me to communicate with others reasonably easily most of the time but I still find myself avoiding conversations and dropping-out of group chats on occasions; especially when I have a cold and my hearing drops even more. I usually don’t realize that I’m avoiding talking to people until after my cold goes and my hearing gets back to normal.
Tell people about your hearing loss
Obvious, right? Let everyone know you aren’t hearing so good and they’ll speak up a bit for you, speak more slowly, and repeat themselves if they need to. So, problem solved, everyone makes sure you can hear and I can stop writing this now; unfortunately that doesn’t happen that often. People hide their hearing problems and struggle on pretending that nothing is wrong; instead, they nod or laugh when someone has said something they didn’t hear, just say “yeah” as a generic response to anything, avoid conversations, look bored, change the subject, the list goes on.
Just tell people, they’ll understand, really, they will. You hearing loss is a big deal for you but not such a big deal for anyone else; they are probably too busy worrying about their own problems. Just tell one person and see what happens, I’m sure you’ll either get a nonplussed, “OK, cool, so about the game tomorrow…” or “Yeah, I kinda knew you weren’t hearing so well.”
All those times when you just say “yeah” to something or nod? How many of those was that the correct response? They can’t be right more than half the time and all those other times people are thinking, “what they hey? I’ve just told you that my dog died all you can say is ‘yeah’?”.
Invisible Hearing aids help a lot
The way that most people solve their hearing problem is to get a hearing aid. These days, hearing aids have come a long way from the old, bulky, constantly whistling, over-the-ear monster that your Granddad wore. They are sleek and tiny, completely unnoticeable in some cases; they are basically tiny computers in your ear and are constantly working to help you hear more.
You can still get over-the-ear models, which are a popular choice, but they are so small that they don’t hang down the back of your ear, they just sit on the top and are easily hidden by your hair. There are also various sizes of in-the-ear models, some of which are visible and some sit so far inside you ear that you can only see them if you have your face pressed-up against the side of someone’s head and are staring straight into someone’s ear.
The technology in hearing aids these days in incredible, but it does come at a price; hearing aids are by no means cheap, you could be looking at upwards of $2,500 for a good pair.
So, please, don’t suffer your hearing loss in silence. Tell people about it and tell them how they can help you by speaking up a little, speaking slower, facing you when they talk and repeating themselves when needed. If you can, get yourself a tiny or invisible hearing aid, they make the world of difference.
Author Bio: Steve Claridge has been wearing hearing aids for over 30 years. What started off as a minor hearing loss at the age of five is now a severe one, but his hearing aids help a lot. He blogs about all this at www.hearingaidknow.com.