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Coping with hearing loss

Hearing loss is very common and many resources and programs are available to support to individuals and their families.

Hearing loss can be sudden or gradual. It may begin at birth or later in life. Whatever the cause, hearing loss may bring stress and grief.

Some people find it hard to accept that they have hearing loss and may want additional support to help them cope. There are counseling services, support groups, and organizations available for individuals with hearing loss.

Technology to help people with hearing loss also is available.

Stress relief

  • Balance your schedule. Do not schedule too many social events at once if you know this will create stress for you. Take time to rest your eyes.
  • Find fun activities to get involved in. Don't feel that you need to withdraw because it is hard to understand people.
  • Do something that relaxes you, such as reading, doing puzzles, getting a massage, going swimming or playing golf.
  • Talk with someone about your frustrations. This person can be a family member, a pastor, a counselor or a friend.
  • Find out about support groups you can attend. Hearing Loss Association of America has local organizations and sometimes support groups.
  • Get a pet or start a new hobby.
  • Stand up for yourself. Don't hesitate to let people know what works best for you.
  • Let yourself grieve, and learn to accept changes that you may need to make in your life.

Tips for coping with hearing loss

  • Identify ways to better communicate in noisy environments (i.e. use assistive listening devices; move to a quieter area; eat at restaurants during off-peak times; request that background music be turned down).
  • Let people know what you need from them, ask them to speak louder or slow down.
  • Ask activity leaders to give you an agenda beforehand so that you can follow things better. Sit up front, where you might be able to hear more clearly.
  • Find out about technology that might help you understand people better. Examples include: hearing aids, captioning technology and amplified equipment.
  • Talk to someone about your struggles. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
  • Learn more about hearing loss resources and your rights as a person with hearing loss.

Tips for family and friends

  • Be aware of lighting in the room and minimize background noise when possible.
  • Speak a little bit slower and a little bit louder. Do not shout or speak overly slow.
  • Make sure the person is looking at you before speaking to him or her.
  • Avoid speaking with objects in your mouth.
  • Flash lights in the room or tap person on the shoulder to get his or her attention. Avoid approaching from behind.
  • During larger gatherings, make sure one person speaks at a time. If using a microphone, make sure people wait until they have the microphone before speaking.
  • Don't push the person with hearing loss to accept their loss or label themselves. Be patient.
  • Learn more about services and programs that may be available to support you and your family.
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