People with hearing loss need help. That’s NOT to say we are helpless. But we can’t, simply through our own willpower, hear or communicate better without the input, support and skill of some important sources.
There’s nothing wrong with needing and asking for help. In fact, it’s the smart thing to do.
The way I hear it, there are four deep wells of support that can lift us out of what, for many, is the devastating impact of hearing loss. Three of these are human and the fourth is what humans produce.
1. The Expertise of Professionals
Many of us don’t need a doctor or an audiologist to figure out that we have hearing problems. Even if we push our suspicions down deep, they still exist in us; we know we’re not hearing well. Eventually, we can’t ignore it, but to move forward, we need a diagnosis and a plan of action. Health professionals – family doctors, Ear, Nose & Throat physicians, and audiologists – are trained experts that can help us along the path better communication. They understand far more about the hearing system than we do – including the fact that there is still much that science has yet to discover. But, in today’s climate of mistrust, many people are dismissive of ‘experts’. Don’t make that mistake. They are our allies.
2. The Liberation of Technology
Has there ever been a “better time” to have hearing loss? No, there hasn’t. I’m using devices that were hardly conceived of of 25 years ago! The explosion in hearing assistive technology has improved our lives beyond the wildest dreams of people with hearing loss in, say, the 1950s. Hearing aids, assistive devices and the infinite capacity of smart technology – can be more precious to us than many (or most) of our other possessions, because technology moves us from being excluded to included.
3. The Strong Back of Hearing Loss Peers
Connecting with other people who have the same issue as me was mind-blowing and life-changing. Meeting them, listening to them, and absorbing what they knew (and we don’t) can be your game-changer too! These ‘others’ will share tips that you won’t get from the professionals. But – there’s always a but – use a healthy degree of caution and even skepticism when connecting on social media groups. There’s an immense amount of misinformation shared by people who may be offering opinions based on their personal experience which may not fit the particulars of your situation: quoting unverified ‘facts’ and touting expensive supplements that don’t work. If they did, none of us would have hearing loss or tinnitus! Having said that, do reach out and gain the comfort of knowing there are definitely many paths that lead forward.
4. The Wisdom Within
No audiogram or hearing professional can precisely describe what we hear or how we hear it. We may not have the right words do articulate how things sound (or don’t), but we know when our hearing levels are not serving us well. We know when the combination of technology, our professionals and our interactions family and friends should be working better for us. And we know that it’s up to us to take the next steps. We have to refrain from the blame game because there is currently no shining star of a cure for our hearing loss and tinnitus. Let’s trust in our ability to find a way forward and to surround ourselves with those who want to help us.
We need help and help is waiting.
Asking for it is the smart thing to do.