For people with hearing loss, isolation is sometimes voluntary. How can we help our loved ones combat isolation related to their hearing loss?
As an audiologist, the first thing that came to my mind once the “Stay Home” order was issued by Governor Brown here in Oregon was how isolating the next few weeks would be and how often my patients experience isolation due to their hearing loss. Those of you who are staying at home and social distancing because of the quarantine are probably starting to notice your world getting smaller and smaller. This same sense of aloneness in the world is what many people with hearing loss are forced to deal with every day. This was the case with Vickie.
Over the last few months, Vickie’s husband had noticed the volume on the television continuing to increase. He discussed with Vickie the possibility of having her hearing checked, but Vickie refused. She knew that hearing aids were expensive, and she didn’t want to spend a large amount of money on herself. All things considered, Vickie thought having her hearing checked was too much of a hassle when she could just continue to raise the volume on the television. So, instead of addressing the root of the problem, Vickie argued that she’d be fine.
Before long, Vickie’s world began to shrink. As her hearing continued to decrease, so did Vickie’s activity outside her home. She stopped going to church. She abandoned the monthly community meetings. She stopped volunteering at the hospital. She refused to go to sewing class, choosing instead to sew at home by herself. Even communicating with her adult children became an ordeal because she had to keep requesting they repeat themselves or speak louder.
Vickie’s hearing loss made her begin to self-isolate. As her hearing declined, her loneliness intensified. The truth is, as humans, we crave social connection. Even those who identify as introverts usually feel a need to be heard, valued, and seen.
Once the quarantine is all over and the Emergency Order is lifted, what can we do to help those who are still stuck in isolation because of their hearing loss?
3 Ways to Combat Isolation-Related Hearing Loss
1. Be Aware
As I mentioned earlier, social engagement with others is an essential component of one’s mental health. If you are concerned for a loved one who appears to be showing signs of a hearing loss, the best thing you can do is talk to them about it. Most types of hearing loss happen so gradually over time that your family member may not even realize he has a problem. Take care to be empathetic when discussing hearing loss and speak positively about hearing aids and amplifiers.
2. Talk To Dr. Serpa
Once you or your loved one has acknowledged a hearing loss, contact Hearing Resources Audiology Center. Dr. Serpa can perform a detailed case history via Telehealth to help identify which types of situations are causing problems. Even if your hearing evaluation finds that you do not have hearing loss, Dr. Serpa can still provide helpful communication strategies to help you and your family understand each other better.
3. Learn About Hearing Aids
If Dr. Serpa determines that you have hearing loss, she may discuss different types of hearing aid manufacturers, styles, and price points. She has extensive knowledge and experience with hearing aids and can guide you to the right choice for your specific situation.
Here For You – Schedule a Telehealth Appointment With Us
During the COVID-19 quarantine, we are taking all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our community and reduce the burden of our healthcare workers. If you feel that you or a loved one may have hearing loss, please contact our office and schedule a Telehealth appointment.