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Hearing loss has been described as a silent condition. Because aged-related hearing loss happens over a long period of time, you might not even know unless you are aware of the signs:
- You struggle to hear conversations in noisy environments
- Children’s voices and women’s are difficult to understand
- You’re asking ‘pardon’ or saying ‘sorry’ with more frequency
- Family members are complaining that the TV is on too loud or that you are regularly interrupting because you cannot follow what is happening on screen
- You have difficulty hearing on the telephone
The longer hearing loss goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more it affects the relationship with your family and friends.
One client told us that his relationship with his teenage son had been under strain. The teenager thought that his father didn’t care and was deliberately ignoring him when in fact, his father simply couldn’t hear him.
Once the man had hearing aids fitted and the family understood what was going on, life at home improved markedly.
Much more common are reports of angry and fed-up wives who demand their husbands ‘do something’ about their hearing loss.
Frustration, embarrassment and misunderstandings caused by hearing loss make family life and socialising difficult but that is just the beginning.
Hearing loss can also appear very similar to memory loss.
If you are not hearing what is being said, you cannot retain the information. To members of the family, not hearing may come across as not remembering or not caring.
To make matters worse, your brain has to work harder to keep up with conversation if you are increasingly reliant on lipreading and contextual cues to follow a conversation. This increases the chances of missing important information - not to mention that it increases fatigue.
There is new research which reveals that the part of the brain responsible for hearing is also linked to memory. In addition, the link between hearing loss and dementia is well established.
Your family might believe that you are less capable than you really are and may take on responsibilities and obligations that you would prefer to do yourself.
Family members tell us that they see loved ones withdrawing from family events and becoming less outgoing. They miss your full attention and your company.
Building great and lasting relationships is a two way street. If people believe you are not willing to invest time in company and conversation, they might begin to speak at you, rather than to you, increasing the risk of social isolation and depression.
Now we’ve talked about the bad news, we have good news.
The sooner hearing loss is diagnosed and addressed, the sooner you can maximise your best possible hearing. And the benefits are real and tangible.
Having your best hearing gives you more autonomy and can feel and enjoy engaging with family and friends. You might be surprised at what you’ve been missing out on.
Enjoy conversations knowing you are getting the full context without having to ask for things to be repeated or feeling like you're a couple of seconds behind everyone else.
Being a part of a discussion reduces social isolation and loneliness which reduces the impact of anxiety and depression.
Watching TV and going to the movies is more enjoyable because you don't have to concentrate so hard to hear. Noisy situations, like going to a sporting match or out shopping will be less stressful because background noise is better controlled.
You will feel more safe while out and about because of your better ability to hear alarms and sirens - and the direction they're coming in.
Hearing aids improve your quality of life by delaying the onset of dementia which means you will be more actively engaged with the world and feel on top of your game. We have clients who have started to enjoy old hobbies and now have the confidence to tackle something new.
Even if you’re pretty sure your hearing is fine. Get it tested anyway for your peace of mind and your family too.