Hearing loss isn’t something most people expect to encounter in their day to day lives. Because of this, it all too often goes unnoticed. I know this from personal experience. In my case, it was my wife Raine who first noticed that something was wrong. Of course it took her a good many years before she managed to persuade me that I might just have a little problem.
The biggest challenge to overcome is one born of assumptions. It’s the old idea that hearing loss is something which happens to certain types of people – “not me.” Society by and large chooses to ignore the whole topic of deafness. Instead, the focus is on so called “normal” as the perceived status quo. If only mainstream and medical education made hearing loss a necessary subject open for discussion, things would be a lot easier. Instead, we all need to be aware of this invisible disability. We can help each other spot this often elusive challenge to day to day living.
So, how do we see the unseen? Sounds impossible, right? Not quite. We just need to look for the tell-tale signs. If someone is struggling with his or her hearing, the signs will be there.
“If someone is struggling with their hearing, the signs will be there.”
This is an easy one to spot. When the TV volume begins to creep up past the comfortable range, it’s time to pay less attention to what’s happening on the box and more to the partner beside you. Is your partner beginning to lean in the direction that the sound is coming from?
If you’ve begun to notice that your partner is constantly asking you to repeat what you’ve just said, you might want to consider whether it could be a hearing issue coming to the surface. Assuming you don’t mumble and that you have no problem being understood by others, this can be an indicator that your loved one is experiencing hearing difficulty. You will notice that this gets worse in crowded places such as coffee shops, cafes and restaurants, where there are many different competing sounds..
If you notice your partner struggling to make him/herself understood on the phone and making excuses not to make phone calls, this could be a wake-up call. Often telephone conversations can be a nightmare for those developing hearing loss. You may notice him/her changing which ear s/he holds the handset up to; this can indicate a drop of hearing in one ear. S/he will also develop a tendency of constantly asking the other person to repeat themselves.
When a person who is usually easy going suddenly becomes stressed and short-tempered in social situations and this wasn’t the case before, this can be a sign of hearing loss. Of course, with this indicator, you would need to look for it coupled with other signs. It could be an emotional issue, something work-based, or even a health issue. However, with the gradual loss of hearing, stress does tend to climb toward the ceiling. It is difficult trying to keep your temper in the face of what can feel like a conspiracy being waged against you. When those around you appear to be communicating perfectly well, it can feel isolating to realize that you’re having problems.
When someone we know begins to make changes in daily habits, such as suddenly wanting to change sides when walking beside us, this can be a good sign that all is not well in the hearing department.
As you can see from the five areas I have put under the spotlight, it isn’t all that difficult to notice that something is wrong. Just keep your eyes and ears open to the warning signs that something might be amiss.
What other warning signs might there be?