With Hearing Loss, The First Step Is Acceptance

Hearing loss does not discriminate. It impacts people of all ages, races, creeds, and phases of life. It can be caused genetically, or from excess noise, or from ototoxic drugs. Sometimes it happens suddenly. Other times it sneaks up gradually as part of the aging process. But one thing is true for all — hearing loss will affect your life. The degree and type of impact is partially up to you.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Bikram Yoga Blog

Will you let your hearing loss embarrass you — giving into the stigma that is often associated with hearing issues? Will you avoid social situations, hiding your struggles from friends and family? I made these mistakes for ten years, following in the footsteps of my father, who went out of his way to hide his hearing loss from everyone. 

Or will you rise to the challenge, advocating for yourself as needed, and continuing to live boldly, with humor, and passion for whatever moves you. I do this as best as I can today — coming clean about my hearing loss with friends, family and strangers. I also write this weekly blog where I share my personal ups and downs living with hearing loss and provide tips for self-advocacy. I hope that by sharing my experiences, I can help others to live more comfortably with their own hearing issues.

What path will you choose? I hope it is the latter. The first step is acceptance.

An Ode To Hearing Loss Acceptance

A

Allow yourself to grieve for the loss of your hearing. It is a loss and you should give yourself the time to recognize this change in circumstances.

C

Communicate to others about your hearing loss. This is the only way to get their support and assistance.

C

Commit to living life fully. Make adjustments to your life to minimize the impact of hearing loss on your activities, work and personal relationships.

E

Engage with the hearing loss community. Find an HLAA chapter or similar group where you can interact with other people with hearing loss.

P

Practice hearing your best. Experiment with different settings on your hearing aids or play lipreading games with your family to improve your skills. Practice builds confidence.

T

Treat your hearing loss. Research the best hearing assistance options for your particular situation. Untreated hearing loss is associated with significant health problems including an increased risk of dementia.

A

Advocate for yourself. Request quiet tables at restaurants and remind people to face you when they speak to you. Ask for what you need and you are more likely to receive it.

N

Normalize your hearing loss. Don’t hide it. Make it part of your family dynamic. The more comfortable you are with it, the more comfortable others will be with it too.

C

Crash through stigma. Don’t internalize the inaccurate and embarrassing stereotypes surrounding hearing loss. Put a new face to the issue — your own.

E

Expect hiccups along the way. Tackle them with humor and a positive attitude. Be persistent and if something is not working, try something else.

Readers, do you accept your hearing loss?

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13 thoughts on “With Hearing Loss, The First Step Is Acceptance

  1. Yes, I have accepted mine. I speak out now and tell people what I need. If they want me to hear them then they need to listen to me. I have a little more trouble with strangers. I work in retail and different ethnic groups are sometimes harder to understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very good article. I have struggled with accepting my hearing loss for a long time. I have finally become more comfortable with it and am taking action to help myself hear better and advocate for myself in all situations. Finding a group (HLAA Chapter) really helped me become more accepting and wanting to advocate for myself and others.

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  3. I started out with a mild loss in my late 20’s Through the years I have lost more of my hearing along the way. Each loss that is noticeable to me I feel the grieving begin. There have never been a one time acceptance of my hearing loss, or a one time in my life where I have grieved. Friends and I have found several humorous times with my hearing loss, these times have been enjoyable, yet with strangers at times, quite embarrassing. Hearing is a very big sense to lose. We are disconnected from the world when we cannot hear, we must rely on our other senses such as sight. It takes times for our brains to register what words your lips are trying to tell us, plus we also may be concentrating on picking up some of your voice with our hearing aids, they are nothing like putting on glasses. Please give us some time to respond, we have so much to take in, I never would of thought about this before I became hearing impaired! Thank you!

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  4. Hi Shari,
    I enjoy your blog. I am an audiologist who works with an ENT and fits hearing aids. I have lots of materials from HLAA (and before that SHHH, Sam Trychin, et al.), but I have added this to by resources. Is it ok if I print out an article with credits and reference to your blog to give to patients who are in a new stage of the journey with their hearing loss?

    thank you
    Marsha McClean

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  5. Dear Shari,

    Thank you, another amazing article, solid advice that every audiologist or hearing aid specialist should give along with dispensing. I began my hearing loss journey in the late 1960’s during a time when audiologists were not “permitted” to dispense hearing instruments. In those dark times, the focus was more on the “mechanics” of operating a hearing aid rather than the personal or interpersonal use and adaptation. Indeed, concealment under a pile of hair or denial were acceptable, being up front and assertive were not! So much better today!

    Sadly, many of us who’ve lived a lifetime with hearing loss have learned other wise. This is particularly true if you live with normal hearing folks, work with normal hearing folks or interact with normal hearing folks…..meaning about everyone! Although it sounds good and right to self advocate, to be assertive and to wear our hearing aids with pride, in practice it is much, much harder….Isolation, withdrawal, minimization, yes, even depression are real enemies. With aging, these problems get worse.

    Currently, hearing aids and audiological care are not Medicare-covered expenses, they are not part of most health insurances, but they should be! Just as my prosthetic leg is covered under Medicare Part B as a durable medical device, hearing aids should be treated the same. Today, 10,000 people a day are turning age 65 as we “baby boomers” are working our way through the pipeline. Permitting hearing care into the health insurance/Medicare world simply makes sense. It will drive the costs down, encourage utilization and somewhat “normalize” use of amplification. Imagine a world where access and acceptance of hearing trouble were not an issue! Imagine a world where a person was criticized for NOT using amplification/adaptation instead of the opposite! Imagine hearing aids that cease being an expensive little secret…….

    Hold tight on the steering wheel, Shari….your advocacy, advice and support will soon be going “viral” as they say!

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    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Tom! It would be wonderful for hearing aids to be more widely available and more consistently used! Let’s hope things continue to move in the right direction.

      Like

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