What is Normal for You?
You are not alone. Hearing loss affects one in ten Americans. Your hearing loss not only affects you but it also impacts your loved ones. Because most hearing losses come on very gradually, family members are often the first to recognize changes in your hearing.
Your loved one’s perspective
It’s frustrating when you live with someone and you frequently have to repeat two or three times before you are understood. That’s the tricky thing about hearing loss. You may be heard but not understood because, for most people, hearing first diminishes in the higher frequency. The word “thin” is heard as “in” or “first”, is understood as “third”. You lose track of how many arguments you have because of these misunderstandings. The price paid by both family members is disconnection and possibly resentment.
The natural flow of conversation is continually interrupted. There is a breakdown in the spontaneity of communication. Sometimes you decide that what you were about to say is not worth the effort of repeating. The familiar line, “Oh, never mind” becomes part of everyday conversations. Interaction becomes less frequent and brief. Simple statements and questions begin to substitute the longer, more interesting, and humorous discussions you once had. This can result in a loss of intimacy and a sense of loneliness for both partners.
Your perspective as a person with gradual hearing loss
When you have a hearing loss, it may seem that you have trouble paying attention when actually you have to concentrate very hard to follow a conversation or television program. It’s tiring to continually work at figuring out what is being said. Eventually, you may choose to “check out” of social situations, appearing to be preoccupied or even rude.
It’s exasperating to ask a person to face you, only to have them turn away or talk to you from another room. It doesn’t work for either one of you. It’s also irritating to ask people to speak up, only to have them drop their voice at the end of a sentence. And when people speak louder, it may sound like they are annoyed or angry because of the intonation of their voice changes. Sometimes, it sounds like they are yelling at you. After a while, communication with people who sound loud and angry cause a lowering in your self-esteem, and a sense of despair and resignation.
To protect yourself, you may not even want to admit that you have a worsening hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is perceived as a sign of weakness or old age. (By the way, that is now a myth. More people under the age of 60 have hearing loss than people over the age of 60.) Over time, all the ways that you over-compensate for even a mild loss becomes exhausting. Your loved ones may not even know how hard you try.
No one is to blame
Be gentle with yourself and with your loved ones. Good communication is complex, add hearing loss and it gets even more complicated. For effective communication, one of the most important ingredients is a willingness to understand the other person’s perspective. That’s challenging. Humans often want to be right about their opinion or perspective. In this paradigm, it’s hard not to take things personally when listening to another person. But if your intention is to understand one another, then talking about the impact of hearing loss on you, opens your heart. Then, anything is possible for you and your relationship.
Let Avalon help you understand one another
One of the most healing things we do is to help people “walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins”. In this case, we let you walk a mile in someone else’s ears! Imagine, if you and your loved ones could actually hear what it is like to listen to life through your hearing loss. We can do this for you! All you have to do is ask your loved one to join you for an appointment. Then, pick up the phone and schedule your free EDUCATIONAL Hearing Test and Consultation. Remember to let us know that you want your loved one to walk a mile in your ears!! This simple act has saved marriages, opened up the hearts of sons and daughters with their parents, and healed the struggles in relationships.
In the meantime, be gentle with yourself and one another. These are challenging times. The Avalon Family is here to help you through it all.
Yours for CONNECTED Hearing & Living,
💙 Betty Vosters-Kemp, BC-HIS
Owner, Avalon Hearing Aid Centers, Inc.
Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist
P.S. To help you and your loved ones understand one another better, I will be hosting Avalon’s first Living Happily Ever After with Hearing Loss class on Zoom. Mark your calendars for October 28 at 9:30 AM. I will send an invitation to you later this week! And remember, Avalon has your back. You are not alone.