The Social Distancing Effects of Hearing Loss
It’s the end of March, 2020 and I’m working from my couch at home, socially distancing myself from the world. Just a few short weeks ago the phrase ‘social distancing’ meant nothing to me. Today it seems to be a part of every conversation I have. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine website, social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. For those who have been diagnosed with or have been exposed to corona virus, isolation is recommended. That same website defines isolation as keeping people who are infected away from those who are not infected.
As a Doctor of Audiology, I am someone who cares very much about isolation and what it does to people and their families. The far-reaching effects of hearing loss on the quality of life of my patients plays a large role in this. I cannot help but draw some similarities between the social distancing and isolation on the minds of everyone these days and the social distancing and isolation that is part of the daily experience of many individuals with untreated or under-treated hearing loss.
I once had a patient with hearing loss express her frustration to me after a large holiday gathering of her family. She stated that even though she was in a room with dozens of people, her moderate hearing loss made her feel like she was completely alone. She even excused herself to go the bathroom because she felt so overwhelmed by her feelings of isolation. This patient was very motivated and excited to be fit with hearing aids so that she could once again be a part of the conversation with the people she cared about.
Hearing is such a vital part of human interaction and communication. When it is not functioning well, it can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, misunderstandings and diminished self-worth. Not only does it make things difficult for the person with hearing loss, it affects their loved ones, too. Relationships require communication in order to flourish. Hearing loss makes communication hard work. Often hearing loss happens slowly, over time. It goes to reason that the resulting social distancing and isolation experienced by the person with hearing loss also creeps into their lives.
The good news is that proper treatment of hearing loss is easier than you’d think and this can quickly minimize the social distancing effect on communication. Consider the following when seeking help for hearing loss:
- Don’t go alone, bring along a friend or loved one: Often the challenges and misunderstandings you have as a result of hearing loss are as obvious (or more so,) to our loved ones as they are to us. They see communication difficulties from a different perspective, but may not have had the courage or opportunity to discuss the impact. Including your loved one can give you confidence in your decision to have your hearing loss treated. Having a second set of ears at your appointment when something so important is being discussed is helpful, too.
- Get the right technology for your lifestyle: Hearing aid quality and technology varies widely. The difference in cost of hearing aids depends on the level of technology inside the devices. Your hearing care professional should take the time to understand your lifestyle and the different situations you need to be able to hear and interact in so they can recommend the most appropriate technology for your needs. Most hearing aids last between 4-6 years before they are replaced. This is a commitment! Make sure the devices you choose are up to the communication challenges of your life so you can minimize the social distancing caused by your hearing loss. Not everyone needs the best technology, but make sure you have the right one for your needs.
- Beware of deals that are “too good to be true:” In the hearing aid world, if it “sounds too good to be true,” it usually is. I’ve had many patients who have wasted hundreds and even thousands of dollars trying to get a “good deal” on-line or in the office of a fly-by-night company who may not be around to serve them should problems arise. There is no substitute for well-trained professionals who know their products and are established in the community. If a provider offers you a substantial discount if you buy today, run, don’t walk, to your nearest Audiologist’s office. Doctors of Audiology are highly trained and have established relationships with the major hearing aid laboratories. They can provide high quality instruments with superior service at fair and competitive prices.
For most of us, hopefully, our need for social distancing will soon be alleviated. For those who experience the “social distancing and isolation” of hearing loss, there is so much that can be done to help. As Doctors of Audiology, Fox Valley Hearing Center is looking forward to a time when our social distancing is over and we are back to re-connecting you with the people and the life you have been missing. Until we can all freely interact again, stay safe and stay healthy.
Contact our expert team for an appointment today. Together, let’s make sure you’re hearing and communicating your best!