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Understanding the emotional impact of hearing loss on children and adults
Hearing loss does not have to lower your quality of life, especially with all of the advanced hearing solutions and support now available to individuals with a hearing impairment. But the fact is, for many people it does. Hearing loss can hinder a person’s personal and professional relationships as well as their emotional wellbeing. These effects may compound, especially if the loss goes unnoticed or untreated until it’s very severe.
The reality is that coping with hearing loss is different for everyone. Clinicians, family members, hearing aid specialists and the person who has lost or is losing their hearing all need to be sensitive to the fact that there are emotional effects to hearing loss. The age of the person and the quality of support they receive can greatly impact those emotional effects.
Children and Hearing Loss
Because they’re still developing their social and coping skills, hearing loss can pose a great emotional challenge for children. It may lower a child’s self-esteem and ability for self-expression. If undiagnosed, even mild hearing loss can decrease a child’s ability to succeed at school, leaving the child and others to think he isn’t trying, doesn’t care or isn’t bright.
Poor scholastic performance only adds to the problem of low self-esteem. Behavioral problems at home and in school may accelerate due to the child’s difficulty with hearing. The loss of confidence experienced by a child who struggles to understand her world can result in long-term emotional problems, depression and unhealthy introversion.
Even if it is diagnosed and can be treated, wearing a hearing aid or undergoing medical care can make a child feel isolated and “different” than everyone else. Not all children with a hearing deficit struggles emotionally because of it, but some do.
Parents can support their children by developing their own support systems and learning how other parents have successfully helped their children build confidence and self-esteem. Focusing on personal strengths and being encouraged to tackle challenges of all kinds is essential for every child to grow into an emotionally healthy adult.
Adults and Hearing Loss
In some ways, it can be even more difficult for adults to lose their hearing than it is for children. Adults are generally not as adaptable or receptive to learning new things as their younger counterparts. While children are still developing their identities, adults are attached to their identity as a hearing person. The loss of hearing puts many people through the same emotional stages as the loss of a loved one: denial, anger, depression and finally, acceptance.
Adults who lose their hearing slowly without diagnosis often undergo a slow change in personality. Isolation is common. They may be confused or fearful about their inability to communicate as clearly as they once did. The fear of losing one’s income, relationships or social standing can have a huge emotional impact, causing high levels of stress that then affect other areas of health. Even with diagnosis, the thought of wearing a hearing device can cause loss of self-esteem. It’s not unusual for hearing loss to turn a once friendly, confident adult into an angry, isolated grump.
It’s important for family members and friends of a person with hearing loss to remain patient and to give their loved one time to adjust to this major life change. A clinician can offer advice on support groups and professional counseling options for the family and/or the individual.
Furthermore, it is important to seek treatment where possible. Modern hearing aids are both discreet and technologically advanced to the point of providing natural sound. Hearing aids can dramatically help a person suffering with hearing loss to feel back to their normal self, engaging with family and friends once again.
If you or a loved one are experiencing a hearing loss and are looking for a compassionate hearing healthcare provider, look no further than Lifestyle Hearing Solutions. Our team specializes in helping the hearing impaired of Tucson to hear what they’ve been missing. Wealways offer free, no-obligation hearing testing and invite you to call in and schedule today.