Hearing loss is commonly referred to as an invisible disability. This is because while this permanent condition hinders everyday communication and awareness of the environment, it can’t be visibly identified. The people in your life may notice your hearing loss, however, they may mistake it for something else. All too often hearing loss can be interpreted as you are not paying attention or seem disinterested. This can build up into serious resentment in even your closest relationships. However, letting the people know you have a hearing loss is very important and the first step in seeking help.
It’s one thing to let someone know you have hearing loss, but a recent study found that the way you choose to disclose your hearing loss matters in how you receive the support you truly need.
What is Disclosure?
Disclosure is the process of making facts or information known to the public. In the case of hearing loss, it’s letting people in your life know about your disability. It can be difficult to do, but because hearing loss is a communication issue, it’s the first step in directly addressing the issue and perhaps even finding resolutions. However, some ways of letting people know you are having an issue hearing are more effective than others. It can feel hard at first, but the more you practice, we promise, that the better your relationships can become.
The Impact of Keeping Hearing Loss a Secret in Your Life
You know a secret can eat you up inside. Being open is not only living your truth but the ability to ask for help. This pertains to your home life with your spouse or significant other, and family members as constant confusions and understandings can build up into resentments that are challenging to undo. You’ll find that ignoring or keeping your hearing loss secret will affect every relationship in your life from friends, to co-worker. It can impact your earnings and self-confidence. The sad news is that most people don’t address their hearing loss. One study estimates that less than one out of every five people do. It’s time to break the cycle!
Hearing loss often happens gradually so you may not even know you have it. However, it is your friends and family who will note it much faster than you. They may not be able to diagnose it appropriately as hearing loss, but they can see that it is making you less alert. Unfortunately, untreated hearing loss compounds and spirals into emotional and psychological consequences, such as social isolation, loneliness, depression and even compromised cognitive functioning.
Your Disclosure Method
Not all methods of disclosure are the same. A recent study identified three different ways in which a person disclosed their hearing loss to another. This includes:
This is not actually disclosure at all but continuing to live with hearing loss in secret. It can look like asking someone to repeat themselves or saying “I can’t hear you. The issue is that if you don’t let others know you have a hearing loss you can’t make a change.
Basic disclosure means telling others that you are suffering from hearing loss however, you don’t offer any active ways in which they can offer help.
This brings us to the most functional method of disclosure where researchers noted the most improvements in communication. Not only do you let a person know you have hearing loss but you offer tangible actions they can do to help you feel better. For example, one may advise someone, “I don’t hear as well out of my left ear. Please walk on my right side”.
Addressing a Hearing Loss
Don’t keep your hearing loss a secret. Chances are the people in your life want to help. Being open about your hearing loss is the first step in seeking real help and treatment. Not only will you see the quality of your relationships rebloom, but you have a chance to test and treat for hearing loss. With hearing aids people report improved alertness and ability to follow everyday conversations. Contact us today to set up your next hearing exam.