When one of our family or friends is hard of hearing, it usually becomes something of an inside joke. The challenge over time becomes part of the fabric of our lives. Something to smile about. Just a sign of age and nothing to worry about.
Admitting to ourselves that someone we love has a problem that we can’t fix, can be difficult for people. The fact that older people newly diagnosed will have in most cases struggled with hearing loss for a number of years before seeking help only adds to the problem.
This is why social support is crucial for people with hearing loss.
Read more: Why I finally decided my dad needs hearing aids
Social support is really just another way of saying “care.” It is support offered by those around us. At home, in the workplace, and in our everyday lives and leisure pursuits. We rely on others to help, support and encourage us, as we go about our daily lives.
Social support is important throughout a person’s entire hearing journey, but is especially important at the beginning. Due to hearing loss being invisible, it can often be not recognized, forgotten or assumptions might be made.
Read more: Why you should take a family member to your audiology appointment
Often times, people who are new to hearing aids won’t take well to them at first. A large amount of brand new hearing aids are relegated to a bottom drawer or similar storage place within the homes. In many cases, this can be easily avoided.
Read more: Ask Anna: My Grandfather won’t wear his hearing aids
Often a person would rather struggle with their existing problem, than persevere with a new piece of technology. Even if it can offer solutions to their daily challenges. When someone first gets hearing aids, there is a time of adjustment. It is crucial during this stage that a person really gets support and reassurance.
Just because an ailment is invisible, does not make it any the less serious. Asking those with hearing loss how things are and if there is anything you can do to help, can make a world of difference.
Often, especially in the early days of wearing hearing aids, there is a temptation to abandon them. It is at this early stage that a kind word and an offer of encouragement can really make things better for the one facing the challenges.
It doesn’t take walking a mile in their shoes to understand hearing loss. It simply takes being willing to offer support and an encouraging word. Even those with perfect hearing have times when they mishear things. Hearing loss doesn’t change who a person is, but it can and often does change the confidence in a person and can bring on social anxiety and depression.
Read more: Hearing Loss Simulator: Understanding Mild and Moderate Hearing Loss
Minor adjustments in lifestyle are all that is needed in most cases and the offer of a helping hand and a willing supporter. Humor is also extremely beneficial, as this can really help when the going becomes difficult. Hearing loss is a challenge, but it in no way stops a person from living a life well lived.
Hearing loss is one of those things which you can only truly understand if you experience it. Yes, even an audiologist can only sympathize and empathize to a certain extent. Beyond that would take direct access to a hearing loss world. But knowing this, shouldn’t put people off seeking understanding and clarification where hearing loss is concerned.
The best way of being of help is to become aware of hearing loss. If you know of a person with this particular challenge, take time to ask questions, be kind and above all else offer as much encouragement, as you would like to receive in their place. The key here is balance. Those with hearing loss have no wish to be fussed over but do welcome care, attention to detail and genuine offers of assistance, whether taken up or not.
Read more: Hearing loss can be stressful. Here’s how to manage it
How do you help your loved ones with hearing loss? Let us know your tips in the comments!
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