Explaining Hearing Loss to Your Loved Ones

two professionally dressed women holding hands to ears

Living with hearing loss isn’t always easy. However, with the right support and treatment, it can be manageable. Many patients with hearing loss, though, often feel isolated or unable to talk about their condition. They want to bring it up with friends and family, but they are not sure how.

In this post, we take a look at some of the ways that you can explain hearing loss to others. Talking about the condition isn’t always easy, but if you can use a little tact, you can often get them to understand. 

Describe It as a Part of Your Identity

You don’t have to make hearing loss a part of your identity if you don’t want to, but it can help other people understand who you are. You can tell them that you have the condition, but that it doesn’t change your basic character. You’re still the same person, just with an inability to hear sounds as well as others without hearing aids

Unfortunately, it can be hard for others to adapt to people living with hearing loss. As such, it’s helpful to become an advocate for yourself so that you can avoid feelings of isolation. 

Ask For Them to Include You in the Conversation

One way to do this is to ask friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances to include you in conversation. Groups will sometimes leave out people who are hard of hearing or fail to see that they haven’t quite heard what is being said. Ask other people to regularly check in with you to find out if you are following the topic thread. In some cases, you may need them to repeat things for your benefit.

Focus on One-On-One Conversations

Group conversations are challenging for people with hearing loss. Voices come from many directions, and the pace of conversation tends to be high. It’s also hard to ask people to rewind the discussion to an earlier point. 

Because of this, many people living with hearing loss focus more on one-on-one conversations. It’s easier to focus on a single source of noise and if they miss something, they can always ask the other person to repeat themselves. 

Ask People to Have Patience with You

Sometimes, other people can find it frustrating when you don’t understand what they say. Occasionally, they can mistakenly believe that you are not listening to them deliberately. 

The trick here is to simply explain how hearing loss affects you. Point out that it can be challenging to hear individual voices in a crowded room or that certain sounds are confusing sometimes. The more you can explain the condition to other people, the less frustrated they will feel.

Point Out That You Are No Different from Anyone Else

Even though you have hearing loss, you are no different from anyone else. While you might be hard of hearing, point out that you have the same emotions, impulses, drives and characteristics as other people. 

Describe the Condition and What Causes It

Sometimes just describing what hearing loss is and what causes it is a good way to explain hearing loss to your loved ones. Point out that not all hearing loss is the same. Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem in the outer or middle ear that stops sounds from reaching the inner ear and brain. Common causes include things like malformation of the outer ear or fluid trapped in the ear canal. 

Sensorineural hearing loss usually results from problems with the cochlear. In older people, it comes from damage to the small hair-like structures that pick-up sound in the inner ear. But it can be a consequence of meningitis and ototoxic medications, too. 

Once people understand what’s behind your hearing loss, it becomes less mysterious. When they understand the mechanism of action, they are more likely to accept it. 

Make Sure That You Are Heard and Understood

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make sure that you are heard and understood by the people around you. If other people can’t hear what you are saying, explaining your hearing loss is impossible. Regularly check in with others to make sure that they understand where you are coming from. 

Get Support

If you need support, a hearing test or hearing aid fittings, Peninsula Hearing can help. Our team has experience working with patients who are hard of hearing, offering advice and guidance, particularly if you need help explaining hearing loss to your loved ones.

Get in touch with our Poulsbo by calling us at 360-697-3061 or Port Townsend at 360-379-5458. We’d love to hear from you.