What Scares Me Most About My Hearing Loss
Does your hearing loss ever scare you? Most of the time I accept my hearing loss, following communication best practices and self-advocacy tips to live my best life. I feel confident and capable. But sometimes I get afraid. Like when my hearing aids are on the fritz for a few days or I have a particularly challenging communication experience. Or when I have a close call crossing the street or trouble remembering something.
These are the times when I succumb to worry. What will my life be like as my hearing loss worsens? How will it impact my relationships? My health? My livelihood?
Here are the six things that scare me the most about my hearing loss. Please add your thoughts in the comments.
1. A higher risk of dementia. Whenever a new study comes out linking hearing loss to dementia, I worry about the consequences for me. The latest study (July 2017) produced by the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care (LCDPIC) stated that hearing loss in mid-life could be responsible for 9.1% of the risk of developing dementia. Yikes! The good news is that the study characterized this as a modifiable risk, which means that treating hearing loss (using hearing aids, CIs or other assistive listening devices) can lower that risk.
2. Feeling isolated and lonely. Hearing loss makes communication more difficult and exhausting, which can often lead to self-imposed isolation. When I feel this tendency, I take a break and then force myself to reengage. It takes work, but the rewards of intimacy and friendship are always worth the effort.
3. Passing it on to my kids. This one won’t apply to everyone, but for me, it is one of the primary reasons for my advocacy work. My hearing loss is genetic, starting in my mid-20s. I hope I have not passed it onto my children (they are too young to know for sure), but if I have, I want them to be as prepared as possible to thrive despite hearing loss and its challenges.
4. Becoming irrelevant. Communicating with someone with hearing loss takes extra time and planning. Why engage with the person with hearing loss when you can contact/hire/befriend someone else more easily? Every “Never mind” and “It’s not important” supports this fear. Speaking up against this treatment is our only choice.
5. Being unable to do things I enjoy. Hearing loss makes certain recreational activities harder. Luckily technology has made it possible to successfully attend the theater, listen to music, and watch movies, even with a hearing loss. Future advancements will only improve our access to these activities and more.
6. Ending up alone. Hearing loss is difficult for the person with the hearing loss, but it also takes a toll on family and friends. In my darkest times I worry this burden will become too much and I will be left alone. Luckily for me, I have a supportive family and a network of hearing loss friends that I hope will be with me for quite some time.
What scares you most about your hearing loss?
A version of this post first appeared on LivingWithHearingLoss.com
Getty image by 9nong.