The Importance of Social Support for Those with Hearing Loss

young man talking to senior

Social Support for Those with Hearing Loss

Signs of adult onset hearing loss are often joked over and turned into a tongue in cheek comment on aging, but the reality of hearing loss due to aging is often a slow withdrawal from social situations, due to an inability to follow along with or engage in conversations.

According to Hearing Like Me, "Older people newly diagnosed will have in most cases struggled with hearing loss for a number of years before seeking help only adds to the problem." Experts like the author of Hearing Healthcare for Adults recommend addressing hearing loss as soon as possible and instituting a support system to help aging friends and family through the process of coming to grips with hearing loss and seeking appropriate treatment and hearing solutions.

Social support offered by those around the individual experiencing hearing loss can be provided at home, in the workplace, and in the pursuit of everyday activities. At the very beginning of a hearing loss journey, when the loss has just been acknowledged or diagnosed, the need for social support is high. Hearing loss is "invisible", which means it is easy to overlook, forget, or make assumptions about.

Ask the affected individual what you can do to make them feel more comfortable. Outline several situations and gently press them to state their preference. Perhaps they would like to be reminded gently to turn their hearing aids up before entering a situation with several people talking and some background noise, rather than walk in and have to fumble with it after missing half a conversation.

Many hearing aid wearers take time to adapt, and need space and time to figure out the best settings, for these individuals, constantly asking them about or reminding them about their hearing aids may not be helpful. Some find it easier to just keep dealing with hearing loss rather then use their new hearing aids, Being patient and encouraging them to try them for short periods in different situations will help them keep from becoming isolated and prevent their hearing aids from ending up in a bedside table drawer.

Minor adjustments in lifestyle can be made without a big production, and small friendly gestures that connect to the new normal without pointing it out are often welcome. If hearing is better in one ear than the other, simply remembering that when pointing out a place to sit for them can help someone with hearing loss feel more comfortable.

Social support offered by those around the individual experiencing hearing loss can be provided at home, in the workplace, and in the pursuit of everyday activities.