Remember Your Loved Ones are Affected by Your Hearing Loss
by Jan Christensen
Editor: I first met Jan Christensen at the SayWhatClub convention in
2000. She and her husband are full-time RVers, and have lots of
interesting stories about life on the road. Jan is also a writer, and
her first novel, "Sara's Search", has just been published. For
more information on Jan or her writing, please visit her website at
http://www.janchristensen.com/. Or you can email her at email@example.com.
You know what it's like to deal with your hearing loss. Have you
considered what it must be like to be a loved one dealing with it?
Communication is a two-way street. If one of the people on the street
is a bit lost a lot of the time, it makes it difficult for the other
person as well.
One thing really hard about hearing loss for other people is that it
doesn't show. So, you look just the same as everyone else who can hear.
It's easy, then, to forget about the hearing loss, and just start
talking as if the person could hear every word.
But, as the person with a hearing loss, you know that it takes you
just a heartbeat longer to process speech. If someone doesn't get your
attention before speaking, they may be so far ahead of your ability to
process that you become lost. This needs to be explained to that person.
Several times, if necessary.
The first rule for the loved one is: Get the HOH person's attention.
And there goes most of the spontaneity in the relationship. This is a
complete change in the way most people communicate.
And it gets worse. Even after the person with the hearing loss is
paying complete attention, he or she may still not understand everything
that is said and have to ask for repeats. This slows down the
conversation, further eroding spontaneity.
If the person who is hard of hearing has made no effort to correct
the problem, the loved one needs to raise his or her voice in order to
communicate. Raising one's voice ordinarily means that someone is trying
to get your attention or the person is angry. If the conversation
continues with a raised voice, the person may begin to feel first
annoyed, and then actually angry.
All this can lead to less communication, anger on the part of both
individuals, and a slow erosion of the relationship.
There are certain things that the hard of hearing person has
absolutely no control over. Even with the best hearing aids in the
world, or even a Cochlear Implant, he or she will never hear as well as
someone with normal hearing. So, the other person always has to get the
hard of hearing person's attention before speaking, and will have to
repeat some of the time.
However, there is no excuse for a person with poor hearing not to be
doing all he or she can afford to do about the problem. This means the
best hearing devices, and assistive listening devices, that can be
afforded. This means wearing and using these aids and devices most of
the time (all of the time if you can stand them). It is not fair to the
other person in the relationship to have to do all the work. You may say
it's not fair that you have a hearing loss (and it isn't), but that's
life. If you live alone and never interact with another individual, it's
okay to not do anything about a hearing loss. But if you live out in the
world, it is your responsibility to do all you can to make it easier for
both yourself and others to communicate with you.
As you go through the despair of learning to deal with your hearing
loss, your loved ones are also in despair for you and with you. Your
ability to hear is impaired, but their ability to talk to you is
impaired. In a way, they also become handicapped when speaking to you.
If you do nothing or very little to improve your hearing as much as
possible, the other person in the relationship may (probably will) begin
to feel that you don't care about communicating with them any longer. Is
this what you want them to feel? How would you feel if the situation
The worst part about having a hearing loss is the way it can separate
us for other people. Don't let this happen to you!
"Communication is not only the essence of being human, but also
a vital property of life. " --John A. Piece