There’s no denying that hearing loss can affect communication, especially when that hearing loss goes undiagnosed or untreated. Approximately 15% of Americans report some degree of hearing loss, and that’s just those that report it. The number could be much higher. Hearing plays a crucial role in communication, and when it is impaired, it can change how we interact socially.
According to one source, “Although many adults are resilient, acquired hearing difficulties are nevertheless responsible for a high level of general psychological distress for a significant number of people due in part to isolation, loneliness, and withdrawal.”
Understanding hearing loss and how it can affect you physically, psychologically and emotionally, is key to maintaining your quality of life, and that includes your social life. If you believe your hearing is impaired, these strategies can help you stay connected with the people that matter most in your life:
If you haven’t already, see a hearing health care provider for a professional hearing evaluation. This evaluation can give you valuable information on your degree of hearing loss and how to best manage it to prevent further loss. When hearing loss goes undiagnosed, it can lead to a breakdown in communication with friends, family and coworkers. This, in turn, can lead to stress, frustration, anxiety, increased isolation and even a breakdown in relationships.
Turn up the volume with hearing aids
If you’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss and hearing aids are recommended, work with your provider to select the best option for your needs and get a hearing aid fitting. Today’s hearing aids can make communication with others in a variety of environments easier than ever. Programming and added features can give you more hearing ability in noisy environments such as restaurants, can help you hear better over the phone and catch more of the conversation when it really matters.
Keep making plans
For many with hearing loss, even when it has been diagnosed and hearing aids selected, there can be a fear of embarrassment in social situations. Whether it’s reluctance to wear hearing aids or worry about being unable to hear clearly in various situations, some people may change how they make plans or stop making plans to go out socially altogether. Some couples affected by hearing loss share how much that loss can affect decisions on dining out and many other activities, limiting activities and social interaction. Don’t fall into this trap! Make a point of getting out and about to spend time with the people you care about.
Be open about your hearing loss
Hearing loss affects millions of Americans and as life expectancy increases so does the number of people impacted by hearing loss. Be open with others about your needs in order to be at your best in certain social situations. Heading to a restaurant? Suggest one with less background noise or request a table that would be more conducive to conversation. Attending an outdoor concert? Consider hearing assistive devices that can work with your hearing aids to help you better tune into both the concert and your companions. Friends and family will appreciate spending time with you and you’ll all benefit from smoother communication and interaction.
Hearing loss doesn’t have to have a negative impact on your social life. Following simple tips like these can help you maintain your relationships and social life. Don’t forget to work with your hearing health care provider to identify additional strategies and tools that can help make being out more comfortable and enjoyable.