Persons With Hearing Impairments
Hearing impairment is a challenge that can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. This issue tends to be more common in men as well as older populations yet some children are born without a full ability to hear the world around them.
The wide variety of people who have a hearing impairment as well as the numerous ways it can develop means that you or someone you love may face this condition at some point. Because of this, it’s important to understand the challenges presented by hearing loss and how it may affect the overall quality of life.
We’re going to take a look at how hearing loss may impact people of different ages, the effects on public health, and offer some tips about improving communication between those living with poor hearing.
Hearing Impairment and Younger Generations
Hearing impairment may be caused by obstructions in the middle or outer ear; it may also be caused by damage to the nerves, bones, and other structures within the ear. These damages can be caused by loud noises, lack of blood flow, medication, trauma, age, or something else entirely.
Young children have much less life experience – they often do not have a true baseline for how different noises should sound. Additionally, they may not know how to express that they’re unable to hear particular parts of speech, certain pitches, or that some sounds just don’t exist to them.
Native languages are learned by a child hearing their parents, teachers, and siblings speak, then working to replicate the words and phonetics for themselves. Children with hearing impairments may not correctly hear certain parts of speech or words which can delay the development of their vocabulary or cause them to be difficult to understand.
Young people who have difficulty hearing may find themselves in trouble more often at home or school for not following directions or because a parent or teacher felt ignored. Finally, hearing impairments may negatively affect a child’s self-confidence and ability to make friends.
Effects of Hearing Loss on the Elderly
Similar to younger generations, elderly persons who develop a hearing impairment may feel embarrassed about mishearing conversations, asking people to repeat themselves, or family members’ jokes about the television being too loud.
This embarrassment and lowered self-confidence may lead to fewer social interactions, isolation, loneliness, and depression. Mishearing conversations can also cause misunderstandings, arguments, and increased stress.
As time passes, decreased mental stimulation is often shown to cause a faster decline in cognitive ability and may be related to the development of dementia.
Public Health and Hearing Impairment
Hearing impairment is not a cost-free condition. The World Health Organization believes that this global issue costs around $750 billion dollars each year. This economic impact is related to the lost productivity, societal costs, and educational support costs.
Although this cost is high, it can be mitigated by a number of public health efforts including:
- Vaccinating against diseases that are known to cause hearing loss such as measles, mumps, rubella, and meningitis
- Public education of certain drugs that are known to impact hearing – including high, frequent doses of aspirin, NSAIDs, loop diuretics, and certain antibiotics
- Improving the public’s knowledge of healthy ear practices and hygiene
- Setting a standard limit for the volume of cell phone speakers, earbuds, and music devices
- Identifying hearing loss early-on with regular childhood screenings
- Sharing information about the causes of hearing loss, particularly noise exposure, ear trauma, and genetic issues that can increase the likelihood of this issue
As awareness about the causes and prevention of hearing impairment is increased, the total annual cost can be reduced. More importantly, the public’s knowledge and education on this topic can improve the quality of life for those who suffer from this condition by allowing a return to normalcy through understanding and acceptance.
Suggestions for Improving Communication
Individually, there are a number of tips that can help minimize some of the communication challenges that are faced by persons with hearing impairments.
For people who may love someone with impaired hearing, be conscious of your speech patterns, volume, and make an effort to face the person with whom you’re speaking. When possible, gain this person’s attention by saying their name at the beginning of your conversation and avoid speaking from other rooms. Also, try to keep your hands away from your face as it can be distracting and block people’s ability to read lips.
It is also helpful to look for any signs of confusion about your conversation, offer a written version of any information needing to be shared, take turns speaking, and be patient. Consider signing up with your loved one for classes that focus on communication or sign language.
If you happen to suffer from hearing loss, consider purchasing a hearing aid, have your hearing screened often, be honest about misunderstood words, phrases, and ideas. Keep your brain active by working on puzzles, talking to friends, and solving daily problems that aren’t necessarily related to hearing loss.
Beginning the Journey to Improved Hearing
Whether you know someone with hearing loss or are suffering from diminished hearing yourself, it is important to take steps that will protect your hearing in the future and improve the quality of life.
One of the first steps on the journey to improved hearing is to set an appointment with a healthcare worker. Specialized healthcare professionals can test your hearing to determine the extent of your impairment, recommend preventative measures specific to your needs, offer insight about hearing aids and listening devices, and ensure that you receive the right amount of hearing help.
If you are ready to begin improving the quality of life for you or a loved one, Southwestern Hearing Centers can help. Call one of our experts today to schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional who can help decrease the number of challenges faced because of hearing impairment. z