When you hear the words "hearing loss", what sort of thoughts pop into your head? Many people think of aging, senior citizens and of clunky, big hearing aids, or worry what others will think of them. It is not surprising that most people do not want to admit they have hearing loss and that it can take seven to ten years for someone to consider wearing a hearing aid. The fact is hearing loss does have negative connotations for many people and these create a barrier when it comes to seeking help.
Dr. Charlotte Yeh of the Harvard Health blog asks why not switch the conversation and talk about "hearing gain" instead of hearing loss? This is an interesting flip focusing on the positive outcomes rather than the problem. When you hear better you have so much to gain – more social interactions, deeper connections to your family and improved workplace productivity. Better hearing is also connected to our overall health. When we hear better we are more active, less isolated and depressed and our brains stay engaged with the world around us.
Dr. Yeh relates the story of her own father who was the life-of-the-party, but as hearing loss progressed he became more withdrawn and his overall health was affected. She remarks, "He was declining in front of my eyes". After he was fitted for hearing aids, he changed dramatically. At a family reunion her father again told stories, jokes and laughed with his family. His confidence returned and his health improved.
Next time you think about your own diminished hearing or speak to a loved one about their hearing, take a new approach and look for specific examples of what could be gained from better hearing. When you seek help to improve your hearing, you have everything to gain and truly nothing to lose.