20 QUESTIONS & 5 STEPS TO A BETTER LIFE WITH HEARING LOSS

Don’t you just love those headlines that promise you the world? 

5 Simple Tricks You Can Do TODAY to Revive Your Love Life!

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Celery—But Should!

3 Neat Ways to Pick the 5 People You’ll Meet Up There!

These are examples of a listicle—a combination of an article and a list which offers advice to help you solve a problem, make you a better person, or make you prettier, smarter, richer or all three at one go.  Writers like listicles because using bullet points means less grammar and punctuation to worry about.  Readers like them because it’s about their problem, getting to the point without a lot of yah-de-ya-da (which is what you’re reading right now). 

The internet is bursting with hearing loss articles; this is wonderful because there are a lot of people with hearing problems looking for answers. But no single article answers every question or solves every (or any) problem—this one certainly doesn’t!  You have to read a lot and do your research to find advice that adds up to a plan that ultimately works for you. But it’s important, whether a person has had hearing loss for years or just a few months, to understand the Big Picture, the reality of what to expect in the hearing loss life—its emotions, barriers and solutions. This Big Picture illustrates a journey of steps that give us the knowledge and strength to achieve better communication, a better quality of life.

The journey involves a great deal of inner debate (with ourselves) and outer questions and comments (with our hearing health professionals and our communication partners).  The following 20 questions, 5 steps, and 1 bonus question-step is a simple blueprint for the process. There is no set timeline (or even a beginning and an ending), because some people adjust to hearing loss like a duck to water, while for others—most of us, actually—it’s a much longer process. And there’s no money-back guarantee of success, but I can tell you that, in a lifetime of hearing loss, one of my biggest AHA moments was that by taking personal responsibility for our communication success—and that includes asking for help— life gets better.  Not perfect, but better. 

 

The Inner Conversation

The Steps to Success

Am I struggling to hear?

Could my family possibly be right?

Maybe I can just get by?

Well, hiding my hearing loss isn’t working, is it? 

1.

I admit it: I may have hearing loss.

(You just took the most difficult step – well done!)

Should I wait to see if it gets better?

Maybe it’s time to do something?

Who do I talk to?

Don’t they all just want to sell me something?

2.

Get professional  help

Hearing assessment and recommendations.

 

Do I really need a hearing aid?!

I’ll get back to you on that, say in a year or so?

OK, I’m back.  Do I have a say in my own treatment?

What questions do I ask the hearing professional?

What else should I know about MY hearing loss?

3.

Use technology and other strategies 

 Team up with your service provider to choose appropriate hearing technology. Discuss strategies (captioning/telecoil, loops/environmental manipulation, etc.).

OK, I’ve got a hearing aid, what makes it work better?

Can’t people tell by my hearing aid or cochlear implant that they need to speak up and face me?

Why can’t (my spouse, children/friends/coworkers) remember what I told them to do?

4.

Communicate your needs to people 

 This part goes on forever, but the sooner you accept it, and learn how to do it, the better.

How do other people live with this?

What resources are available in my area?

How do I explain tinnitus to people who don’t have it?

How can I help my family deal with our mutual communication issue?

 

5.

Ask for support from peers and family

Consumer groups, social media, speechreading classes, family discussion

BONUS QUESTION!

WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW?

 

 

 

 

 

The Important Rah-Rah Stuff

Practice, don’t give up.

Keep researching.

Stay healthy.

You have the same right to inclusion as anyone else – believe it!

Technology isn’t perfect yet, but they’re workin’ on it!

Be an advocate: promote accessibility for all people with hearing loss.

Decide if good communication is important to you, then pursue it!

 

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

10 Comments

  1. I really like your tip about getting professional help if you think that you are struggling with hearing loss. My mom has been having a lot of issues with her hearing for a while now so we are thinking about getting her in to see if she can get some hearing aids. I’ll have to pass this information on to her to see if it can help her. Thank you for sharing! http://www.pacifichearingcare.com/hearing-aids

  2. I hate to admit this but it took me years (20+) to get help for my hearing loss. I refused to recognize to myself that I needed hearing aids. I just couldn’t see myself wearing them. Vanity!! Being very HOH caused me no end of trouble at work & socially & yet I stubbornly refused to admit it. Not until a physical & mental breakdown did I finally recognize where a great deal of stress was coming from did I finally get hearing aids. What a difference! When I first heard the birds singing I cried for all that I missed!

  3. Gael:

    Excellent! Could I get your permission to use some of your listicle in presentations that I give to help potential patients to not wait the typical 5-10 years between recognition of the problem and solving it by purchasing hearing aids? Thanks.

  4. These are some great tips for living a better life once hearing loss has already occurred. Over 10 million people in the UK are affected by some sort of hearing loss, I was recently reading up on these figures and they seem to go up every time I check. With 3.7 million of these at working age, and of course some of these will be working in industries where the environment is extremely loud and this can cause more damage if correct hearing protection is not used. Custom Moulded ear plugs are the way to go, definitely.

    1. Kevin, as a person with hearing loss, it makes me crazy to see people willingly although unwittingly risk their good hearing by unsafe practices. The message has been going out for years now, and there’s no excuse to ignore wearing earplugs. Thanks for writing.

  5. Great list of questions and even better responses to the questions! We work every day to help people understand hearing loss and how to help or treat it. You do such good work with your articles or in this case, listicles. Thanks for being such a great advocate for Hearing loss.

  6. Gael, this is perfect. I’ve often tried to come up with a “listicle” about hearing loss without success. Your analogy to the journey is great insight. Thanks!

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