If you’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss, you can attest to the fact that it’s a life-changing experience. For most people, acquiring hearing loss doesn’t occur overnight, and neither does the acceptance of the diagnosis or the changes it brings. Just like someone who’s grieving, individuals who lose their hearing often pass through these 10 stages of hearing loss.
Stages of hearing loss
Living and coping with a type of genetic hearing loss herself, Shari Eberts has identified 10 specific stages to which many people with hearing loss can relate. It is not uncommon to skip stages or to pass through some of them multiple times.
- Denial – At this stage, you may think that it’s someone else’s fault that you can’t hear well. Typical comments include:
- Why isn’t the volume turned up on the TV?
- Why are you mumbling?
- I hate it when people don’t speak clearly!
- Fear – Somewhere deep down inside, you have a clue that you might be losing your hearing, but you hope it really isn’t true.
- If it is, what will happen?
- Will I still be able to function in society?
- What will my family and friends think?
- Will I still be able to work?
- Anger – At this point, it’s starting to sink in that you really do have hearing loss, but that doesn’t mean you’re happy about it.
- Why is this happening to me?
- I’m too young to have hearing loss!
- Life isn’t fair!
- Sadness – For some, this might actually turn into depression. For others, it might just mean that you’re sad about the loss you’ve experienced and the feeling of social isolation and aloneness that hearing loss can bring.
- Realization – Now, it’s really hit home. But, you realize that you can do something about the situation and you need help for your hearing loss.
- Action – It’s time to stop mourning and start doing. You talk to your spouse or family members about your hearing loss and make an appointment with an audiologist for a full hearing evaluation.
- Frustration – Your hearing test revealed what you already suspected – you have hearing loss. Now, you’re using assistive listening devices recommended by the audiologist, but you still can’t hear perfectly. Unfortunately, the best hearing solution isn’t always found overnight, and many individuals find that even the best doesn’t compare to normal, natural hearing.
- Hard work – Hearing well requires work – work on your own attitude toward your loss, as well as work with your audiologist to find the best hearing technology to meet your needs. Continue to try new devices until you find which combination leaves you hearing the best.
- Acceptance – Whether you like it or not, you’ve accepted the fact that you have hearing loss and you’re getting treatment. You’re beginning to hear better, are learning how to function in society with your “new” ears, and you’re truly LIVING!
- Advocacy – You realize that you’re not the only one who has ever had the life-changing diagnosis of hearing loss. In fact, there are more people who are being diagnosed with it every day. What can you do to help them get through this, just like you have? How else can you advocate for your own needs?
Living with hearing loss requires a plan
Hearing loss certainly creates challenges, there’s no doubt about that. The people who are most successful in coping with it, however, know that having a treatment plan is critical. Figure out where you are in the stages above and that can help you determine where to go for help. Working with your healthcare providers and family to create a successful aural rehabilitation program will be worth your while and help make life with hearing loss more enjoyable.
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