When hear­ing loss hits the family

Let's Talk - - CONTENTS - Karen Finch is the man­ag­ing direc­tor and lead au­di­ol­o­gist at The Hear­ing Care Cen­tre. The in­de­pen­dent, family-run com­pany has 23 cen­tres across Suf­folk and Nor­folk and has won mul­ti­ple awards for the cus­tomer ser­vice it pro­vides for its cus­tomers. For mor

I f you are read­ing this ar­ti­cle it is prob­a­bly be­cause you sus­pect that some­one you care about might have a hear­ing loss. And you want to help. Hear­ing is an easy thing to take for granted.

Ini­tially, you may have a gig­gle at their mis­un­der­stand­ing of words or the bizarre in­ter­pre­ta­tions they come up with, but after a while the daily mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion will lead to con­cern and frus­tra­tion of hav­ing to re­peat your­self. Agere­lated hear­ing loss gen­er­ally oc­curs grad­u­ally and, as a re­sult, it is of­ten family and friends who are the first to no­tice the prob­lem.

Things are not nearly as easy with a hear­ing loss. It is dif­fi­cult to converse in a crowded room or over the phone. It is not that things are not al­ways loud enough, but that they are not clear enough. Peo­ple of­ten claim that there would not be a prob­lem if oth­ers would just stop mum­bling. Sounds fade so grad­u­ally that they can dis­ap­pear un­no­ticed, for ex­am­ple when the birds stop chirp­ing.

Hear­ing loss af­fects one in six of us in the UK and when you do the math this equates to more than 264,000 peo­ple here in Suf­folk and Nor­folk. This is a wor­ry­ing statis­tic, which is only set to rise with a re­cent re­port sug­gest­ing the fig­ure will be one in five by 2035.

Un­for­tu­nately too many peo­ple sim­ply ig­nore their hear­ing loss and do noth­ing, and for those that choose to do some­thing, it can take them up to 10 years to make that de­ci­sion.

Left un­treated, hear­ing loss can im­pact on re­la­tion­ships be­tween the per­son af­fected and their family and friends, qui­etly erod­ing their qual­ity of life.

Deaf Aware­ness Week takes place be­tween May 15 and 21 this year, and is a spe­cial event de­signed to raise aware­ness about hear­ing loss and the sup­port that is avail­able to help those af­fected. Or­gan­ised by the UK Coun­cil of Deaf­ness, the aware­ness week is a fine ex­am­ple of many or­gan­i­sa­tions col­lab­o­rat­ing and work­ing to­gether in a joint cam­paign.

At my com­pany, The Hear­ing Care Cen­tre, we are get­ting in­volved by try­ing to break down the bar­ri­ers that stop peo­ple seek­ing help. Peo­ple worry that hear­ing aids are big and cum­ber­some and that their friends will know they are wear­ing one. Truth is though they couldn’t be more wrong. Hear­ing aids today are small, dis­creet, al­most in­vis­i­ble when worn and are packed full with some amaz­ing fea­tures.

Here in this re­gion there are many or­gan­i­sa­tions that or­gan­ise hard of hear­ing clubs, lip read­ing classes, hear­ing aid main­te­nance clin­ics and as­sis­tive lis­ten­ing de­vice. These or­gan­i­sa­tion in­clude Sens­ing Change, Nor­folk Deaf As­so­ci­a­tion and Suf­folk Hear­ing Ad­vi­sory Ser­vice.

So how do I con­vince my loved one to have their hear­ing checked, I hear you ask? Talk to them about the things they are miss­ing out on, such as so­cial oc­ca­sions or phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties. Dis­cuss the dan­gers of un­di­ag­nosed hear­ing loss - for in­stance, not be­ing able to hear prop­erly while driv­ing, or the sim­ple fact that leav­ing it un­treated will only make it worsen quicker. I would also rec­om­mend that you at­tend the hear­ing test ap­point­ment with them, as re­as­sur­ance to them that they are not in this alone.

If you need any fur­ther ad­vice or guid­ance I would be de­lighted to hear from you. Do email me at karen­finch@hear­ing­care­cen­tre.co.uk

When a loved one’s hear­ing loss starts to im­pact on ev­ery­day life it is time to en­cour­age them to seek help.

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