On average, individuals with hearing loss wait seven years to seek help for their hearing. How does it take so long for a person to own up to their hearing loss? It turns out, hearing loss candidates often go through a complex set of emotions that are remarkably similar to the ones that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swedish-American psychologist, outlined in book about terminally ill patients in 1969. What are these emotions, and how does hearing loss inspire similar reactions in the individual?
Denial is a very powerful defense mechanism and one that is often used in conjunction with hearing loss. You believe that if your hearing is failing, it might mean that you are getting old or losing your independence. You may simply not want your friends to know you had a hearing aid, believing that it will make you old and ‘past it’ in their eyes. This is usually the start of a loss of confidence in the individual.
Even if the family have made repeated mentions of the hearing loss, you may still not want to acknowledge it. People can spend a surprisingly long time in denial, but with repeated mentions of hearing loss however, denial can quickly make way to…
Anger comes from the belief that everyone else is not making the effort required to be heard. You might wonder why no one is making an effort to make sure you can hear, and why everyone seems to be mumbling their way through their sentences nowadays. Family meals might become a battleground between you and your family members, and you might be feeling excluded and resentful of them for not understanding how important it is to speak clearly.
Bargaining can take many forms, from seeking help from a higher power, to telling yourself that you will make a conscious effort to shield yourself from loud noise in the future, in the hopes that the hearing loss will somehow go away. Of course, we know that most hearing loss will not simply disappear, and needs to be treated as soon as possible.
You slowly remove yourself from the social scene which you are part of because talking to others in noisy environments becomes more trouble that it is worth. The few times you do go out, you struggle to hear others so much that you might become reliant on your partner to tell you what people are saying. This strips you of your confidence and independence, and you may end the night mentally exhausted and in despair about your physical capabilities.
This loss of confidence can give way to social isolation and anxiety about future social occasions you may be required to attend, such as weddings and birthday parties.
Acceptance is the last phase. If you have a hearing impairment, this is where you admit to yourself and others that you have a problem that needs to be addressed. This is the most difficult stage to enter which explains why we take so long to treat our hearing loss. The four stages above are all normal reactions to losing the full ability of one of your core senses. But you have the ability to confront and survive this difficult transition.
You should ask for help to deal with the serious impact of hearing loss. Ask for help from your audiologist, but also your family members, your friends, your co-workers, and your partner. Luckily, most of the emotional impacts of hearing loss are overcome once the hearing impairment is efficiently handled. You can get connected to your family again, partake in your favorite hobbies and meet your friends in public places again.
The earlier you face and take measures to deal with your hearing loss, the earlier you can keep a lid on the emotional consequences and continue to live your life as normal. The first thing to do is to take a hearing test so you can determine how serious your hearing loss is.
Have you taken the giant step of accepting your hearing loss? Well done! At Hearing Group, we provide a full suite of hearing evaluations as well as hearing aids to suit all styles, budgets, and hearing needs. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.