What's like to live with a significant hearing loss and how does it effect your quality of life?
It's estimated that almost 30 million people in the United States a hearing loss and at least two percent of adults between the ages of 45 -54 have a disabling level of loss. Hearing loss can be caused chronic exposure to loud noises, too much ear wax, head trauma, nerve damage, Meniere's disease, tumors and much more. A hearing loss can take place over a period of time and be so subtle you don't notice it and by then it's already begun to affect your quality of life. You turn up the TV, radio, wish people would speak louder and don't socialize as much as you used to. These are all signs that indicate you may have hearing loss and should see a doctor and get tested. But where do you go from there?
In 1977 I was in a bad car accident which resulted in head trauma, and a 70% percent hearing loss in both ears. However, I didn't realize my hearing loss was that severe until I got tested. The doctors predicted I'd be completely deaf by 1984 and told me to learn sign language right way. I left the office feeling vulnerable. I couldn't hear if someone was behind, if a car pulled up beside me, and the sounds I did hear, I couldn't tell what direction they came from. I was a single woman, living in a semi silent world and at the mercy of every predator out there and I was terrified. How was I going to live in this semi silent world, get a job and make it on my own? Questions I had no answers to. . . until someone told me about vocational rehab.
The idea of going to Vocational Rehab wasn't appealing to me in the least, in fact I hated the idea but I went anyway with my bad attitude still attached. However, it didn't take long for the attitude to come tumbling down in a fit of tears a i tried to explain why I couldn't do specific task I was asked to do. As a result, he figured out I had a hearing loss and arranged for me to be tested and qualified for free hearing aids and were by far the best hearing aids I've ever had.
So what 's like to live in world where sounds and words are muffled, and whispers are not heard?
It's immensely frustrating, lonely and even painful at times. The world is a noisy place and even though someone is hearing impaired they can have a sensitivity to certain sounds, and those sounds can cause intense pain. Imagine living in a semi- silent world, where some noises are muted some sound far away and words, especially those with an accent sound confusing or scrambled. Then you walk out and get assaulted by a menagerie of sounds coming at you from every direction, it's enough to make you want to hide in your house for the rest of your life.
Facing the world outside, going to events and socializing can be exhausting for someone who is hearing impaired, because it takes a lot of mental and emotional concentration to focus and listen to the various sounds of words being spoken so you can figure out whats being said. I learned this first hand, in my own life but also through my father who is almost completely deaf . One time several years ago, he came to Oregon to see me. I asked him if he'd go to church with me and his answer broke my heart. I'd like to go, but I wouldn't be able to understand what they said." You see, my dad believes in Christ and accepted him into his heart but going to church wasn't worth it, if he couldn't understand what was being said and I understand that kind of logic. going to church is difficult for me too. I miss a lot of what's being said and rarely socialize with anyone, as most people are on texting on their phones or talking to people they know. It easier for me to watch online at home where it quiet, then talk about it later with my husband.
Here' some of the reason why socializing is difficult for the hearing impaired
Fast talkers Are the ones who talk like their wired with too much caffeine or some other substance. While you're trying figure out the first sentence they finished a whole dissertation in 10 minutes.
Mumblers: they're the ones who don't pronounce their words , run them all together rarely talk above a whisper.
Time watchers: the ones who expect you to say what's on your mind in a few seconds.
Over talkers: they're the ones who keep talking despite the fact they lost your attention an hour ago.
Whispers addicts. They're the ones you have to get right up next to them to hear anything they say, because they never talk above a whisper.
Loud and Louder: Some people think they have to yell for a hearing impaired person to hear them, so they do which is just as embarrassing for the hearing impaired person as it is for the hearing person.
Background noise: is the worse culprit of all. It hinders the ability to clearly hear and understand anything being said by anyone. But it's even worse for those with a hearing loss.
They have to compete with background noise to be heard and to hear. So instinctively they find themselves talking louder than normal. But here's the thing, people who have a hearing loss can't tell how loud they're talking. So if it sounds like they're yelling at you, they don't realize it. Instead of thinking they're weird or upset, go somewhere quiet and resume the conversation.
How can you help?
But the hardest part of having a hearing loss is socializing. The second is helping people understand how to interact with someone who has a hearing loss.
You can help by talking in a clear distinct voice, look at them while your talking, try to avoid noises areas, listen, be patient, and make an effort to understand them as much as you want them to understand you.
What are the signs?
1. The person doesn't respond to their name being called.
2. They looked puzzled or confused when asked a questioned
3. They weren't aware someone was behind them.
4 They don't talk or interact with others very much
6. They may talk to loud
7. They wear hearing aids
8. May cover their ears in loud environments.
9. They may withdraw to a quiet place.
10. They tend to isolate themselves
11. Hearing impaired people are often misunderstood, rejected and even made fun of.
12. Most of all realize, that we all have gifts and a hearing loss or disability doesn't mean God can't use us to help build his kingdom. . . if we're willing.
J. Wallace Copyright 2018
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