Hearing loss is one of the leading chronic health conditions affecting the country, yet only about 2 in 10 Americans have had their hearing tested in the last five years. To put that into perspective, around 60% of people have had their vision tested in that same time span.
The implications of untreated hearing loss can be profound. Isolation is a commonly experienced effect of difficulty hearing. With exhaustion and frustration as the bi-product of conversation, is there any question as to why people with hearing loss avoid verbal interactions?
But, there are ways to build connections after a diagnosis of poor hearing health. Just as we embrace eyeglasses as a way to enhance poor vision, we can also normalize wearing hearing aids to boost our hearing experience. With that, building or rebuilding connections can be easy!
Ways to Build Connections by Treating Hearing Loss
Reconnect with loved ones
Before a confirmed diagnosis and treatment, hearing loss can severely impact our close relationships. Both parties might experience frustration in conversation. It’s only natural to avoid frustrating situations, but that can create division and damage within our most important bonds.
Once you’ve decided to treat hearing loss, you can begin reconnecting with loved ones. Call them up and tell them you’re speaking with them on your bluetooth connected hearing aids and ask if they notice an easier time in conversation. Share your experiences, even the difficult parts, of your hearing health journey. Vulnerability within relationships is a profound way to feel closer and more compassionate with the people we love.
Seek social interaction
Untreated or unacknowledged hearing loss can also impact our outer rings of social interaction. We derive so much value from everyday conversations with strangers or acquaintances we see on a daily basis. The easiest way to start a connection with a stranger is to give them a smile. However, if you have hearing loss, you might avoid even that gesture, fearing it will lead to a conversation that will leave you tired or embarrassed because you misunderstood them.
Once you’ve taken the steps to confront your hearing loss, your ability to have these casual interactions will increase. You’ll have more confidence in simple engagements and you will be more likely to enter into situations where light social interactions are on the horizon.
Join a support group
One reason isolation occurs during untreated hearing loss is that people withdraw into themselves and might have shame around their diagnosis. It might feel as though your hearing condition is unfair, or that it’s an experience your loved ones cannot relate to. That is completely natural and you can give yourself time to feel those things. However, once those emotions run their course, it’s time to try a more decisive approach to living with hearing loss.
One way to combat those isolated feelings is to connect with other people who are on the same road as you are. There are support groups for people with hearing loss that you can access online right from your home, or find an in-person meeting nearby. The Hearing Loss Association of America runs support group chapters all across the country and virtually. You can find out how to join in at hearingloss.org.
Try new things
Hearing loss might have you avoiding new experiences because you don’t want to be confused or embarrassed. This can be a fun new exercise class at your gym, a book discussion at your local library, or even a vacation activity like a guided tour. In addition to missing out on the social opportunities and exciting adventure, you’re also forming a new habit of closing yourself off from new experiences.
Because treating hearing loss can restore lost confidence, trying new things can lose their intimidating qualities. Once you are more likely to be able to understand and follow unfamiliar instructions, learning a new skill or attending a novel event can regain some of its previous luster.
Be a hearing health ambassador
You can be part of the change in our culture around treating hearing health! Organizations like the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) sponsor campaigns to bring attention to the need for awareness around communications disorders like hearing loss. Each May, they host Better Hearing and Speech Month and this year’s theme is Building Connections.
What better way to spread awareness of the importance of hearing health than by sharing your own experience with others to pave the way for their own journeys? You can find many resources at asha.org about Better Hearing and Speech month that you can share with your friends and loved ones to help them understand why treating hearing loss is of such vital importance.
Start building connections today
We will provide a hearing test for a diagnosis on your individual hearing health. We also provide hearing aid fittings, if you decide that you would like to treat your hearing loss with hearing aids. We help people find their best hearing experience every day. Together, we will explore the best treatment for you so that you can begin building connections again.