Whether you’re an adult or the parent of a small child, coming to grips with a hearing loss or hearing-impairment diagnoses is never easy. Many people facing this situation find themselves feeling a range of emotions, from sadness to shock to anger. To help you and your family come to terms with these emotions, here are a number tips to aid you in navigating through this difficult time.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Considering that most parents don’t know much about hearing loss, learning that a child will grow up hearing-impaired can be a shock, especially since nine out of 10 children with a hearing impairment are born to parents with normal hearing. Often after parents learn of their child’s severe hearing loss, they will begin to experience the various stages of grief, which include denial, anger, bargaining, and sadness before finally finding acceptance. Parents should know and come to terms with the intense emotions this shocking new can cause, and understand that these feelings are completely normal.
While hearing loss that occurs later in life may not come as quite the shock as learning about the hearing loss of a young child, losing your hearing as an adult can still cause you to feel tired, isolated, frustrated, and anxious. Adults dealing with the loss of their hearing should not isolate themselves as they deal with this flux of emotions. Instead, you should reach out to friends, family, co-workers, clergy, and anyone else who you believe can provide you with the emotional support you need to deal with this life altering news.
Be Patient and Willing to Teach Others
Adapting to hearing loss isn’t something that occurs overnight, and you can expect to have a series of up and down moments. You may feel acceptance and peace over you or your child’s hearing loss one day, only to feel frustrated and angry the next. Many individuals who have suffered serious hearing loss describe the experience as a long journey that includes many twists and turns along the way.
As someone experiencing hearing loss or as the parent of a hearing-impaired child, you can help teach those around you how to better communicate. Teaching others how to communicate can also serve as a great way to move beyond anger and denial, so you can move closer to acceptance.
Better communication includes teaching others to:
- Clearly speak without yelling. Raising your voice can actually make it more difficult for a hearing-impaired person to understand what you’re saying.
- Directly face a hearing-impaired individual when speaking.
- Use appropriate hand gestures and facial expressions, while making a conscious effort to get rid of any distracting ones.
- Eliminate any background noise, such as music or the television, that can obscure what you’re saying.
It’s important that you remain patient when teaching friends and family how to best communicate with the hearing-impaired. The more the people closest to you know about you or your child’s hearing loss, the better prepared they’ll be to help maintain a healthy communication.
Stay Alert for the Signs of Depression
A life changing event such as hearing loss to either an adult or a child can easily lead to sadness and depression. Some studies have shown that mothers have a higher risk of suffering from depression than fathers after learning of a child’s hearing impairment. If you have a child or a loved one dealing with hearing loss, you should stay alert for the symptoms of depression. These can include:
- Problems sleeping
- A lack of enjoyment
- Feelings of hopelessness
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should urge your loved one to talk with a doctor.
Timothy Lemke is a freelance writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of Dr. Lance Bailey, a Portland dentist.