Hearing Vibes


The hidden disability: hearing loss – how you can help

Maria Menconi

Hearing loss is very frustrating. Even if you have identified and sought help for your loss, many friends and family forget that you have a loss that is sometimes challenging. This article though will focus on family members and friends who may notice some telltale signs of hearing loss and feel lost about how to help.

There are some telltale signs of hearing loss that I often see, or hear others talking about, in SaddleBrooke. The first is a change in habits and participation. When gathering places like restaurants, theaters and meetings become a source of “just noise”, very social people begin to withdraw and stop attending functions they always enjoyed. Televisions and stereos get louder and become uncomfortable for other family members. Individuals give responses in conversations that don’t match what the rest of the group is discussing. Individuals become more comfortable with written forms of communication such as email, texts and notes. Face to face and telephone conversations are avoided because they are more difficult. All of these could be a signal that it’s time to talk about possible hearing loss.

Vison impairments and glasses seem to carry little stigma. As one of my young acquaintances who wears glasses and received his first hearing aid at 38 says “Glasses are a fashion statement. I can’t really say that about my hearing aids!” Hearing loss reminds us that we are aging, and for some, it may feel threatening to their independence. So how can a family member help? Here are a few suggestions for these conversations from the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA):

* Be sensitive and considerate of the feelings of the person affected.

* Focus on the positive effects of treatment. For example, you could say, “I think our communication could improve if we tried treating your hearing.” Or “You may enjoy spending time with friends again if you can feel confident during conversations.”

* You can give some examples of how the hearing loss has affected your relationship or caused isolation or misunderstandings.

* Be open and honest, and take the opportunity to discuss how treating hearing loss will benefit the person affected and everyone in his or her life.

Best of all, here in SaddleBrooke, we have a group who would love to help. It’s called the Peer Discussion for Better Hearing Group, and it meets monthly. If you would like support in a caring and open environment, as a hearing-impaired person, a family member or friend of a person with a hearing impairment, please join us! The meetings are held monthly, 10:00 a.m.-noon, at the MountainView Bistro Building (specific room assignments are below):

July 11, 2019: Cactus Room

August 8, 2019: Cactus Room

September 12, 2019: Cactus Room

October 10, 2019: Saguaro Room

November 14, 2019: Ballroom West

December 12, 2019: Ballroom West

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Jennifer Jefferis, [email protected], 360-909-6212 or Dick and Judy Kroese at [email protected], 520-360-5789. If you happen to be a retired hearing professional, an audiologist or an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist living in SaddleBrooke, we would love to invite you to join us and support us with your professional knowledge and ideas.