The Emotional Side of Hearing Loss

Posted by Julie, Volunteer Mentor @julieo4, Jun 13 10:50am

Often those of us who experience hearing loss, especially that of adult onset, feel that no one understands what we are going through. It can affect our self esteem, along with decisions we make about our social lives, and even our work lives.

There is a new Facebook discussion group that addresses this subject. Having followed it the past few days, I realize how many people need to know they are not alone in dealing with this invisible disability. It's also obvious that many find general conversation about the emotional side of HL helpful. Sometimes we just need to talk.

If you're willing to share: How does hearing loss affect you emotionally?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Hearing Loss group.

Through my hearing loss I have perfected the art of lip reading and during the Covid where everybody was wearing masks I often found it hard to understand what people were saying because I could not see their lips even watching television was frustrating as some programs that I watch and they were also wearing masks.
If I had a nickel for every time somebody said “are you deaf or what” I would be pretty well off at one point in my life just used to really hurt me and affect my self-esteem now I’ve learned to simply say yes I am and watch the people that have said this to me squirm and try to apologize their way out of it.

REPLY

My husband and I are experiencing worsening of our hearing. We wonder how much our Covid isolation has made it harder to understand other people. My audiologist advised me to ask fast talkers to slow down. The emotional component is very significant. People can be irritated if asked to repeat part of what they say. I used to be able to follow along with the Facebook live church service but I can barely do it now, another loss. It’s a small, cash strapped church so I don’t feel I can ask for accommodations.

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Fast talkers are always a problem for people with hearing loss. Often, our grandkids are among them. It's so important to be upfront about your hearing loss. Say something like "I don't hear as well as I used to, please slow down a bit. because I want to hear you."

You are not 'deaf', but you need help if you want fluid communication. People tend to think that hearing aids bring back 20/20 hearing like eye glasses do for vision. They don't, they are 'aids' that help. Be willing to explain that. You know that background noise is a major culprit in distorting what those of us with hearing loss can understand. Try to arrange visits with others in quiet settings. Not always easy, but it helps a ton. People tend to appreciate it when we are upfront and honest.

Your church might consider installing a system. I'd be willing to bet there are other people in your small congregation who could benefit too. It's a matter of 'coming out' to share your needs. If you do that, others probably will too.

What a wonderful gift it would be to your church to start a fund to pay for an assistive listening system. An FM system would cost a few thousand dollars and would incude 2-4 receivers. (In my church, people purchased their own receivers after finding out how well they worked.) FM may not be the preferred system by everyone, but it works. If your hearing aids have telecoils, you can purchase a personal neckloop ($50 estimate) that works with your hearing aids to plug into the FM receivers. If no telecoils, it may mean wearing a headset provided with the FM receivers. You can purchase those too if you want your own.

To get the kind of accommodations hard of hearing people need, nearly always means you have to be open about your hearing loss rather than hiding it.

Are you willing to educate others while advocating for yourself?

REPLY
@charlene1961

Through my hearing loss I have perfected the art of lip reading and during the Covid where everybody was wearing masks I often found it hard to understand what people were saying because I could not see their lips even watching television was frustrating as some programs that I watch and they were also wearing masks.
If I had a nickel for every time somebody said “are you deaf or what” I would be pretty well off at one point in my life just used to really hurt me and affect my self-esteem now I’ve learned to simply say yes I am and watch the people that have said this to me squirm and try to apologize their way out of it.

Jump to this post

Lip reading, which is often referred to as 'speech reading', is a learned coping system. It takes effort and determination. We don't realize how much we use this skill until it's taken away from us. COVID and masks took it away. If you've been isolated for a while, you have to start learning all over again with a lot of fatiguing concentration….but you will do fine if you think positive and work at it.

Attitudes of others can be insulting. In most instances, they don't realize what they say is intimidating and insulting. There is so much stigma surrounding hearing loss that has indoctrinated people for generations. 'Deaf' is different than 'hard of hearing'. Hard of hearing is a term people don't like. Jokes about elderly people who make errors in understanding are rampant. They are actually funny if you learn to laugh at yourself once in a while.

Deaf has been associated with the word 'dumb' for generations. Of course dumb, in that context meant 'unable to speak or communicate', not stupid. The acceptance of sign language (ASL) changed that for those who are culturally Deaf.

In today's world dumb has a very different meaning. To understand much about hearing loss, the typical degree that most of us with adult onset have, it helps to know a little about Deaf history. Also that few of us who lose hearing after learning spoken language will ever become a part of the culturally Deaf community. We are a whole different group that wants to hear, struggles to remain in the hearing mainstream, and embraces technology that can help us do that.

More than you need to know, but please do know there is a lot to learn about living well with hearing loss, and that there are groups that can help you learn more about advanced technology that can help with that.

Are you using captions on your TV? Do you use technology that goes beyond hearing aids?

REPLY
@julieo4

Lip reading, which is often referred to as 'speech reading', is a learned coping system. It takes effort and determination. We don't realize how much we use this skill until it's taken away from us. COVID and masks took it away. If you've been isolated for a while, you have to start learning all over again with a lot of fatiguing concentration….but you will do fine if you think positive and work at it.

Attitudes of others can be insulting. In most instances, they don't realize what they say is intimidating and insulting. There is so much stigma surrounding hearing loss that has indoctrinated people for generations. 'Deaf' is different than 'hard of hearing'. Hard of hearing is a term people don't like. Jokes about elderly people who make errors in understanding are rampant. They are actually funny if you learn to laugh at yourself once in a while.

Deaf has been associated with the word 'dumb' for generations. Of course dumb, in that context meant 'unable to speak or communicate', not stupid. The acceptance of sign language (ASL) changed that for those who are culturally Deaf.

In today's world dumb has a very different meaning. To understand much about hearing loss, the typical degree that most of us with adult onset have, it helps to know a little about Deaf history. Also that few of us who lose hearing after learning spoken language will ever become a part of the culturally Deaf community. We are a whole different group that wants to hear, struggles to remain in the hearing mainstream, and embraces technology that can help us do that.

More than you need to know, but please do know there is a lot to learn about living well with hearing loss, and that there are groups that can help you learn more about advanced technology that can help with that.

Are you using captions on your TV? Do you use technology that goes beyond hearing aids?

Jump to this post

I do use the captions on the TV & I have a hearing aid only for one ear as the left ear has no hearing at all.
It’s taken me a long time but I no longer allow people to make ignorant cracks in regards to deafness or hard of hearing and I no longer apologize for having to say what if I can’t understand what’s being said.
I have regained my self-confidence by being very open about my hearing deficit and I no longer feel like I have to apologize for it.

REPLY

@charlene1961

Hi,
First I am glad you do not feel that you have to apologize for not hearing well…your hearing loss is not your fault. Most people are kind and want to help but this is a two way street. Tell them how they can help you but also realize that they will forget to do that in the back and forth conversations and suggest a more appropriate place to talk or some other strategy. And remember there will always be venues where nothing will help except maybe some phone apps.

I have hearing loss in both ears…my left ear is almost nil and I used to wear a hearing aid more for awareness than anything else. My right ear is a lot better.
Recently I have been wearing a Cros receiver in my left ear. I am amazed at the difference. The receiver is not a hearing aid but takes all the sound from the left left and wirelessly transfers to the right ear. So now I have 2 half good ears instead of one bad and one half good. There are also Cros receivers for single sided deafness. I wear Phonaks and my Audi paired a Cros with my current Phonak aid. Goggle what the Cros receivers are all about and tell your Audi you want to trial one. I am planning to buy this when my new mold comes in.
I wear a behind the ear aid and need a snug fitting mold. So I would say between the proper mold and the Cros receiver my understanding and awareness has increased so much.

Ask any questions…don’t know if I have explained myself coherently.

FL Mary

REPLY
@julieo4

Fast talkers are always a problem for people with hearing loss. Often, our grandkids are among them. It's so important to be upfront about your hearing loss. Say something like "I don't hear as well as I used to, please slow down a bit. because I want to hear you."

You are not 'deaf', but you need help if you want fluid communication. People tend to think that hearing aids bring back 20/20 hearing like eye glasses do for vision. They don't, they are 'aids' that help. Be willing to explain that. You know that background noise is a major culprit in distorting what those of us with hearing loss can understand. Try to arrange visits with others in quiet settings. Not always easy, but it helps a ton. People tend to appreciate it when we are upfront and honest.

Your church might consider installing a system. I'd be willing to bet there are other people in your small congregation who could benefit too. It's a matter of 'coming out' to share your needs. If you do that, others probably will too.

What a wonderful gift it would be to your church to start a fund to pay for an assistive listening system. An FM system would cost a few thousand dollars and would incude 2-4 receivers. (In my church, people purchased their own receivers after finding out how well they worked.) FM may not be the preferred system by everyone, but it works. If your hearing aids have telecoils, you can purchase a personal neckloop ($50 estimate) that works with your hearing aids to plug into the FM receivers. If no telecoils, it may mean wearing a headset provided with the FM receivers. You can purchase those too if you want your own.

To get the kind of accommodations hard of hearing people need, nearly always means you have to be open about your hearing loss rather than hiding it.

Are you willing to educate others while advocating for yourself?

Jump to this post

@julieo4

You are a font of information and wonderful suggestions. I always get excited when someone acknowledges or understands my hearing loss after I have explained things to them. I get even more joy when they remember what to do and not do next time I see them. I truly believe that all the personal advocating I have done over the years has paid off , not only in helping me but in making others more aware and sort of passing it on.
As stated before, most people are kind and “get it” but there will always be the “jerk”…sorry no other word comes to mind. If you can accept yourself and you have done all you can do to make things better than worry no more. It is what it is is my motto. But of course, like you, I have had years to come to this way of thinking.

People today who are new to hearing loss have so many resources that we didn’t have eons ago.

Someone mentioned the gym…the least favorable place for hearing loss. When there is music it is genuinely loud and I turn down my aid. Honestly the gym rats (I am more of a gym mouse) will all be like me in a few years. I don’t understand the intensity of the volume but, as someone mentioned, maybe they already have a loss and it’s not loud to them. Don’t think that will change.

Enough said for tonight. I’m unplugging and watching my good old captions on Netflix. Oh,
by the way, my door is always open and I live across the breezeway from family. When my aids are out I stick a note up on the front door saying “Not wearing hearing aids…Don’t scare the C… out of me.” They usually flick my kitchen light on and off when they come in. So funny.

FL Mary

REPLY
@charlene1961

I do use the captions on the TV & I have a hearing aid only for one ear as the left ear has no hearing at all.
It’s taken me a long time but I no longer allow people to make ignorant cracks in regards to deafness or hard of hearing and I no longer apologize for having to say what if I can’t understand what’s being said.
I have regained my self-confidence by being very open about my hearing deficit and I no longer feel like I have to apologize for it.

Jump to this post

Sounds like you're on top of it. Good to know you use TV captions. They take some getting used to and some people quite trying. Have you ever been evaluated for a cochlear implant in the ear that has no hearing?

REPLY
@imallears

@julieo4

You are a font of information and wonderful suggestions. I always get excited when someone acknowledges or understands my hearing loss after I have explained things to them. I get even more joy when they remember what to do and not do next time I see them. I truly believe that all the personal advocating I have done over the years has paid off , not only in helping me but in making others more aware and sort of passing it on.
As stated before, most people are kind and “get it” but there will always be the “jerk”…sorry no other word comes to mind. If you can accept yourself and you have done all you can do to make things better than worry no more. It is what it is is my motto. But of course, like you, I have had years to come to this way of thinking.

People today who are new to hearing loss have so many resources that we didn’t have eons ago.

Someone mentioned the gym…the least favorable place for hearing loss. When there is music it is genuinely loud and I turn down my aid. Honestly the gym rats (I am more of a gym mouse) will all be like me in a few years. I don’t understand the intensity of the volume but, as someone mentioned, maybe they already have a loss and it’s not loud to them. Don’t think that will change.

Enough said for tonight. I’m unplugging and watching my good old captions on Netflix. Oh,
by the way, my door is always open and I live across the breezeway from family. When my aids are out I stick a note up on the front door saying “Not wearing hearing aids…Don’t scare the C… out of me.” They usually flick my kitchen light on and off when they come in. So funny.

FL Mary

Jump to this post

Love your comments! We have to remember that our hearing loss is invisible to others. If we have to remind them often, that's OK. It's a reality.

Another reality: No one truly understands how hearing loss affects us unless/until they experience it themselves.

It's very easy for our hearing friends and family members to forget we are not 'normal'. (Or should I be politically correct and say 'typical'! 🙂

Julie

REPLY
@imallears

@charlene1961

Hi,
First I am glad you do not feel that you have to apologize for not hearing well…your hearing loss is not your fault. Most people are kind and want to help but this is a two way street. Tell them how they can help you but also realize that they will forget to do that in the back and forth conversations and suggest a more appropriate place to talk or some other strategy. And remember there will always be venues where nothing will help except maybe some phone apps.

I have hearing loss in both ears…my left ear is almost nil and I used to wear a hearing aid more for awareness than anything else. My right ear is a lot better.
Recently I have been wearing a Cros receiver in my left ear. I am amazed at the difference. The receiver is not a hearing aid but takes all the sound from the left left and wirelessly transfers to the right ear. So now I have 2 half good ears instead of one bad and one half good. There are also Cros receivers for single sided deafness. I wear Phonaks and my Audi paired a Cros with my current Phonak aid. Goggle what the Cros receivers are all about and tell your Audi you want to trial one. I am planning to buy this when my new mold comes in.
I wear a behind the ear aid and need a snug fitting mold. So I would say between the proper mold and the Cros receiver my understanding and awareness has increased so much.

Ask any questions…don’t know if I have explained myself coherently.

FL Mary

Jump to this post

Thank you so much for your reply and your kind words and your advice I appreciate them very much. I do wear a hearing aid on my right ear and it’s one that sits behind the ear because the kind that right into the ear do not have the frequency that I need but I have never heard of these Cros receivers & I will definitely ask my ear specialist about this. My hearing loss comes from an inner ear disease called cholesteatoma that started when I was around four years old and wasn’t properly diagnosed till I was 10 and I have it in both ears and coming up July 4 I’m actually getting a surgery done on the left ear to repair some more damage that the cholesteatoma has done and once I’m recovered from this I’m definitely going to ask him about this Cros receiver.
When I was still working one thing I always did was make my coworkers aware that I had a hearing disability and that they spoke to me and I didn’t respond to chat me on the shoulder as I was not ignoring them I just probably wasn’t hearing them.
Thank you again

REPLY
@julieo4

Sounds like you're on top of it. Good to know you use TV captions. They take some getting used to and some people quite trying. Have you ever been evaluated for a cochlear implant in the ear that has no hearing?

Jump to this post

Yes I have asked my ear specialist about a cochlear implant and I am not a good candidate as I have an inner ear disease called cholesteatoma but I have in both ears and coming up July 4 I’m going for the fourth surgery on my left ear to repair the damage that this disease does & he’s got a little trick up his sleeve I don’t remember the exact words but if it works he may actually be able to bring a little bit of hearing back into the ear and another kind lady on here was talking about a Cros receiver which I’ve never heard of and I’m going to ask him about that And see if it is something that would work for my left ear which has very minimal hearing.
Thank you so much for your kind words and support I appreciate them!

REPLY
@charlene1961

Yes I have asked my ear specialist about a cochlear implant and I am not a good candidate as I have an inner ear disease called cholesteatoma but I have in both ears and coming up July 4 I’m going for the fourth surgery on my left ear to repair the damage that this disease does & he’s got a little trick up his sleeve I don’t remember the exact words but if it works he may actually be able to bring a little bit of hearing back into the ear and another kind lady on here was talking about a Cros receiver which I’ve never heard of and I’m going to ask him about that And see if it is something that would work for my left ear which has very minimal hearing.
Thank you so much for your kind words and support I appreciate them!

Jump to this post

@charlene1961 You are very welcome. I hope your surgery goes well. I'd also like to 'second' the suggestion to look into a bi-cross hearing aid system that will bring sound from your poorer side to the better ear.

Prior to 1988 when the National Institutes of Health established the National Institute on Deafness & Communication Disorders (NIDCD) within, very little research was done on hearing issues. Consequently researchers have been playing catch up in this field. We can be thankful that so much research is taking place now. It will get even better in time.

Let us know what your ENT specialist says about bi-cross hearing aids.

REPLY
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