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Recognizing Signs of Hearing Loss

Did you know that 50% of people over 65 years of age have some degree of hearing loss.

By 2030, 25% of the Canadian population will be over 65 years old; many of whom will be affected by hearing loss. Hearing loss is an invisible disability which is often not detected or dealt with right away because it is a gradual process.

Here are some signs to help you recognize a hearing loss:

  • Struggling to hear on the telephone
  • Difficulty following a conversation in a group
  • Turning up the volume on the TV
  • Struggling to hear in a noisy background
  • Frequently asking others to repeat themselves
  • Assuming people are mumbling all the time
  • Responding to something incorrectly
  • Difficulty hearing women’s and children's voices
  • Family and friends find communicating frustrating

Why Do Some People Deny They Have Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss is a very gradual process so it’s common for people not to recognize hearing loss immediately. In 1969, Elizabeth Ross Kubler wrote a book titled 'Death and Dying'. The hypothesis relates to what a person experiences when faced with impending death or other extreme fate and that there are 5 stages of grieving. Over the years it has become theorized that these responses can be linked to any type of personal loss including hearing loss.

Hear are the five stages related to hearing loss:

  1. Denial (my hearing is fine)
  2. Anger (it's everyone else’s fault, everyone mumbles)
  3. Bargaining (I'll go if it gets worse)
  4. Depression (I’m 96 years old, why bother?)
  5. Acceptance (now we can do something!)

Untreated Hearing Loss

On average people wait 7 years before addressing their hearing loss. Unfortunately, some people wait longer and there are consequences to that. For a person that is still employed in the work force it can affect communication with their customers or colleagues, especially if the person is trying to hide their hearing loss. Some colleagues might think that the person suffer from hearing loss is not listening which will negatively affect their perception of their colleague. The employee may even become known as lazy or uninterested in their work resulting in them missing our on rewards or promotion. For a retired person, leaving a hearing loss untreated will not only affect their quality of life but will also affect their ability to process information. The brain starts to get lazy and recent studies show that if a person is at risk for Alzheimer’s or Dementia symptoms may appear sooner.

How to Deal with Hearing Loss

Dragging someone into a hearing clinic when they haven’t accepted the fact that they have a hearing loss can result in purchasing hearing aids that sit in the bedside drawer!

If the person doesn’t believe or accept that they have hearing loss the chances are they won’t wear their hearing aids. Be patient and keep the discussion open and stress free.

When you’re ready to do something, book a hearing test at one of your local clinics. I recommend asking friends or family for recommendations on which clinic to go to. Ask someone to go with you and don't feel that you have to purchase hearing aids at that same appointment. Do not go across town as you will soon regret the travel when you need to service your hearing aids or have an updated hearing test.

Source: Bernafon Canada Ltd.

For more information you can contact The College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of British Columbia.

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