Loss of hearing is one of the most common physical disabilities that people face in the world today. In the United States alone 2 or 3 of every 1,000 children born will have a hearing defect and about 2% of adults over the age of 45 have a disabling hearing loss. Deafness generally comes on gradually and can have multiple causes.
Many people will tend to ignore the symptoms of hearing loss and not do anything about it until the condition impacts more severely on their daily lives. The people who tend to notice that there is a problem are the family and friends around and broaching the subject sooner rather than later can be important for getting early treatment.
Becoming deaf can affect different people in different ways, as with most disabilities and health conditions. Some may be proactive and want to do something about the issue, others may prefer to ignore things for as long as possible and ‘soldier on’. There might be anger and a sense of loss, perhaps even depression because they are not able to communicate as effectively as before. They may become irritable, withdrawn or even embarrassed when what they can’t hear a conversation properly and try to avoid social situations.
Broaching the Subject of Hearing Loss
If you are worried about a friend or family member who seems to have hearing loss, then sitting down with them and discussing the issue is the first step. Find out how they feel and tell them what you have noticed and show the understanding and compassion they need.
It’s a good idea to do your research first so that you can make suggestions about what comes next but the first thing to do is to go and have their hearing tested and any condition diagnosed. There is plenty of help out there nowadays and partial hearing loss can be helped with the use of a variety of assistive devices including hearing aids.
Communicating with Someone Who is Deaf
One of the biggest problem that deaf people face is their exclusion from conversation. Particularly in a social situation, they can often be ignored and have difficulty understanding what is being said. At work it can be even more problematic, especially if colleagues are not aware of a person’s condition or how to react to it.
For family and friends helping someone to face deafness, there may be a learning period as there will be for the individual concerned. That could include learning to use sign language or to lip read. This obviously takes time and effort to do but can undoubtedly make the person who is deaf feel more included and able to communicate. Simple things can make a big difference, such as positioning yourself so that you are facing the person directly and showing patience. For friends and family finding out what the major problems are and how they can be overcome together is an important part of learning to live with deafness.
Problems that Deaf People Face
Someone who is going deaf will need support and encouragement as they deal with their condition and family and friends can help immensely. Most people want to live as independently as possible and there are plenty of resources and aids available that now provide ways for those with hearing impairment to thrive.