When hearing loss hits the family
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
When a loved one’s hearing loss starts to impact on everyday life it is time to encourage them to seek help.