Audiologist Doing A Hearing Test

Should I Reveal My Hearing Loss?

Among the many points in the learning curve that comes with a hearing loss diagnosis, one question can profoundly impact the success of your future communications. Researchers in the field of hearing loss have found that working with a Disclosure Strategy can ease conversation and reduce frustration, perhaps answering your question of ‘should I reveal my hearing loss?’

Accepting A Hearing Loss Diagnosis

A diagnosis of hearing loss later in life can bring up a multitude of emotional and mental health issues. This is despite the fact that an enormous percentage of people over the age of 65 grapple with hearing loss; it’s one of the leading chronic health concerns in the United States. One-third of people over the age of 65 will encounter hearing loss and half of folks over 75 have trouble hearing.

Age-Related Hearing Loss

That’s because age itself is the greatest predictor of hearing health and contributes to the changes within the inner ear that cause the condition. We are born with a finite number of sensitive inner ear cells responsible for collecting noise and translating it into sound information that can be sent to the brain for processing.

Aging, or time, leads to a decline in the health of these cells, which are also vulnerable to damage from exposure to excessive noise over time. These factors cause healthy inner ear cells to diminish in number as we age, so that we are left with less cells to capture sound. We can no longer process the full spectrum of sound around us and the brain receives less sound information. We experience this as hearing loss.

The Impact Of Hearing Loss On Communication

At its core, hearing loss is a condition that obstructs ease of communication. One of the first signs that your hearing health has changed is when you have difficulty understanding what other people are saying. This is due to the inability to hear certain frequencies, so that people’s speech becomes garbled and it sounds as though people are mumbling. The brain of a person with hearing loss is working overtime to complete a puzzle in which they are missing many of the pieces.

This makes conversation frustrating. Because humans are fundamentally social animals, challenging communication often leads to a sense of disconnection with friends and family, allowing a sense of isolation to take place. The communications strategies we’ve adopted throughout the majority of our lives no longer work and we are forced to adopt new ways.

Choosing A Disclosure Strategy

Instead of using a coping mechanism for hearing loss that avoids confronting this new reality, people diagnosed with the condition later in life can adopt a disclosure strategy that facilitates easier communication.

A disclosure strategy is a simple sentence you can use in conversation that lets the people you are speaking with know that you have hearing loss. It can be as simple as I have trouble hearing. In studies conducted that investigate the effects of disclosure strategies, scientists found that folks who chose to disclose their hearing loss with a simple sentence, categorized as ‘Basic Disclosure’ encountered empathy and a willingness of conversation partners to make accommodations for the hurdle of hearing loss.

In this same study, people who went further in their disclosure to also offer guidance on ways to ease conversation were met with even greater success. Multipurpose disclosures, on the other hand, might use a sentence like I have trouble hearing so can you face me when we’re speaking? This strategy offers both the problem and a suggested solution.

Practice Your Disclosure Strategy

One way to determine which type of disclosure strategy you will use is to practice saying them out loud to close friends or family members first. It can feel vulnerable and new to say these words out loud, particularly at the beginning of your hearing loss journey.

Eventually, you can settle on the approach that feels slightly challenging yet attainable. As evidenced by data collected around these approaches, it will absolutely become easier over time and with practice.

Reach Out To Our Team

If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing health that make connecting with others more difficult, reach out to us today. Our team of highly trained hearing professionals are ready to lead you through a simple hearing exam and map out your next steps to a better hearing future.