What To Do When Nobody Can See Your Hearing Loss Struggle

I am proud to share my hearing loss story and tips on Mango Health

Any disability can be challenging in daily life, but one that is invisible creates additional obstacles. Being invisible can make it harder for people to be aware of your disability, to provide assistance without being asked, or even, in some cases, to take it seriously. Hearing health advocate Shari Eberts shares five suggestions that can help make your struggle more visible to improve your quality of life.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

“But, you don’t look like you have a hearing problem,” the gentleman said to me, from across the aisle. I had asked if he would mind switching seats with me in a crowded auditorium, so I could have a better view of the speaker. Given my hearing loss, I always do better if I can see the presenter’s mouth so I can lipread to fill in the things I miss by listening.

I stared at him in surprise. Did he expect my ears to be flashing red to indicate a problem? Or maybe they would have out of order signs hanging from them? Didn’t he realize that someone can’t look deaf?

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When Your Mother Has Hearing Loss

Your mother is always there for you. She loves you, before herself. She is your caregiver, confidant, and friend. She is always willing to lend an ear to your daily triumphs and concerns. But what if she can no longer hear you because of a hearing loss? How can you help her through this challenge so that you can both continue to enjoy your special relationship for many years to come? Here are my suggestions. Please share yours in the comments.

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Five Reasons To Get Your Hearing Tested

Do you hear that people are talking to you but have trouble understanding what they are saying? Is it hard for you to hear in restaurants and other places with lots of background noise? Does your family complain that the TV is always too loud? Do you need to see people in order to talk with them? Are you exhausted after sustained periods of communication?

If any of these situations sound familiar, you may have a hearing loss. You would not be alone. Approximately 50 million Americans already have some form of hearing impairment. This includes one in 5 teenagers and 60% of our returning military personnel from overseas.

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Watch Me Now: Making Peace With My Hearing Loss

I am excited to have my hearing loss story featured on SheKnows. Please click through to support mainstream media coverage of hearing loss issues.  

I saw them watching me. Their small eyes taking in the way I was faking it. How I laughed at the jokes I didn’t hear. The way I nodded neutrally when I could not understand what someone was saying, careful not to agree or disagree just in case they were saying something controversial. The times I avoided certain people that I had trouble hearing. Or sat by myself at a party because I was afraid my hearing loss would be discovered.

My father did all these things. That is how I learned them. And now I was teaching my children the same tactics. Avoid. Deny. Hide. This had to change.

Our hearing loss is genetic, so I may have passed it onto my children. While I hope they will not develop hearing issues — it doesn’t manifest until adulthood — I didn’t want them to feel the same embarrassment and discomfort about hearing loss that my father had and I seemed to as well. I needed to stop the cycle of shame.

When I was growing up, my father’s hearing loss was an unmentionable. I don’t recall a time when he didn’t have hearing problems, but I do remember the progression from no hearing aids to one to two. And the long sideburns he wore well past the time it was in style to conceal them. He did his best to hide it at home, at work and with friends, who slowly stopped making plans with him.

Our family was not supportive. My mother sometimes muttered things behind his back to my sister and I, telling us not to worry about what she said because he couldn’t hear us. I remember thinking this was odd, but I was a young child and content enough to play whispering games with my mother if that was what she wanted. I don’t think my father heard what we were saying, but I am sure he felt the disrespect that this behavior communicated. And we were the ones who were supposed to love him.

Maybe that is why he didn’t count on us for help. He never asked us to repeat what somebody said or rearrange the seating at the dinner table to make a place where he could better hear. He didn’t teach us to look at him when we spoke to him so he could lip-read or to speak slowly and clearly. Perhaps he did not know these tricks — the ones I use in my life today to communicate with my family.

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5 Things a Person With Hearing Loss Wants From An Audiologist

I’ll never forget my first hearing test. I was in my mid-20s, in graduate school and terrified. My father had hearing loss, as did his mother, so the fact that I was getting a hearing test so early in life was not surprising. It was traumatic nonetheless.

My father felt ashamed of his hearing loss. He went out of his way to hide it by isolating himself from friends, family and co-workers. I remember parties where he would sit alone in the corner, watching and waiting for someone to approach him. At the time, I thought he was just shy. Now I experience hearing loss, too, and I know the truth. He was probably exhausted from trying to hear with all the background noise and decided quiet solitude was better than the embarrassment and effort of not hearing what others had to say.

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