By Ellen Verlo, M.A., CCC-A, Audiology Consultants
You finally did it. You got a hearing test. You have permanent hearing loss. Your family has been nagging you for a while that you don’t hear well. “Get a hearing aid,” they say. You feel you can hear ok. If people would just slow down and speak clearly you would hear fine. People talk to you but look away. They mumble their words. The TV is too low when you watch with others. You feel anxious and can get tired working so hard just to hear. In noisy places or groups, well just forget it.
Does any of this sound familiar? It will to some of you. The realization you have hearing loss can be very difficult to accept. It is the beginning of changes for which you may not be ready. You can have physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, stress, and eventually withdraw from social events. Untreated hearing loss can lead to depression, anxiety, paranoia, and contribute to changes leading to dementia.
People with newly diagnosed hearing loss generally fall into a couple of groups. Group 1 will embrace it. They ask friends who wear hearing aids about their experiences. They may be proactive and look up information online. They are ready to look for solutions. Group 2 may feel angry. Their family was right and will say, “I told you so.” They may be worried about the next step — getting hearing aids. How much do they cost? Will they help?
There are practical steps you can take to better understand what you are going through and how to continue to enjoy life with hearing loss. Accepting a diagnosis of hearing loss can be as traumatic as the death of a loved one. It is not unusual to grieve for the loss of something that is highly valued, like your hearing. There may be a period of time when you learn to accept this change in communication. You may be ready to see an audiologist and discuss hearing aids. You may need more time to work through some of the changes you realize are coming.
When you are ready, find an audiologist you feel comfortable with and learn about hearing aids, styles, features, and prices. Once you have the basic information, you can put together a plan. Your plan may be to order hearing aids and move on to adjusting to a new world of sound. Your plan may be to wait, you may need to save for hearing aids, or maybe you just need more time to accept this change. You are in charge. It is your time and money. Don’t feel rushed. Audiology Consultants will be here when you need us.
If you have any questions about this article or your hearing health, please feel free to contact Audiology Consultants at 563-355-7712 or visit audiologyconsultants.com.