Denial or Acceptance?
Not many people with hearing impairment would accept their disability easily! Denial is a psychological process and is often the first reaction people have when faced with evidence of hearing loss. They may feel their hearing loss is not bad enough to warrant treatment, or that seeking treatment would be an acceptance of advancing age. Others may be embarrassed by the idea of wearing a hearing aid and are concerned about the cosmetics.
An individual in denial usually uses the following thought process:
- “My hearing is not too bad, it is just people who mumble; they don’t speak clearly anymore.”
- “I can concentrate more and simply ask people to repeat what they have said”
- “I only have hearing problems in large groups and noisy situations; if I avoid these situations I will be OK.”
- “My hearing will get better over time”
- “If my hearing gets worse then I will do something about it”
- “My hearing is not bad enough to wear a hearing aid”
Sometimes the slow process of the hearing loss in progressive hearing losses (such as the age or noise related hearing loss) may even make it more difficult for people to accept that they have hearing loss. As their hearing deteriorates they become used to their hearing loss. They start filling the gaps and try to cope with these problems by turning the volume of their TV up or by avoiding the difficult situations! They may not realise what they are missing or how their quality of life is affected by their hearing loss.
The fact is people cannot hide their hearing loss. Their hearing loss is more obvious than any pair of hearing aids. their friends, associates, clients and loved ones already know that they have a hearing loss. They can push the fact out of their mind, but they are fooling themselves. They can decide to conceal their problem, but the symptoms have already given their secret away by:
- answering the wrong questions
- confusing similar words, like “fat and sat”, “cat and pat”, “choose and shoes”
- turning-up the TV too loud
- asking others to repeat what they have said all the time
If these people keep denying and concealing their hearing problems they start limiting their social activities by:
- avoiding the difficult listening situations
- giving up their favourite activities
- losing their self confidence/self esteem
- not enjoying being in groups anymore
- feeling isolated and depressed
- causing their loved ones to give up on them
- becoming a victim of their decision to ignore their hearing loss
When people accept the fact that they have a hearing loss, it is the first step to overcoming their communication problems. They need to admit that their family, friends and co-workers already know that they have a hearing loss and that their hearing is not as good as it used to be and is affecting the quality of their life and requires treatment.
If their hearing loss can not be treated medically or surgically, they need to accept that their hearing loss is not reversible and that a positive choice is to seek advice from an Audiologist and start wearing hearing aids, if that is recommended.