Monday, March 28, 2011
Hearing: The Key to Quality Communication
Today’s technology allows many avenues of communication–e-mail, text messaging, telephone, even good old-fashioned letter writing. Still, the most important and satisfying contacts for most people are in-person visits. Getting outside ourselves to connect with others is essential, especially for people who live alone.
Studies show that relationships help us cope with stress. If we can turn to others for emotional support or advice, we can buffer the negative effects of stress. And key to good communication is the ability to hear.
As we age, hearing loss is a common cause of failure to communicate. Even people with mild hearing loss experience increasing levels of depression. It’s uncomfortable to be in a group and miss parts of conversations, having to ask people to repeat what they’ve said. People with hearing loss often withdraw, resulting in a downward spiral of depression.
Our brains are involved in our ability to hear. The brain evaluates changes in loudness, depth, origin and direction so sound makes sense. The brain processes a wide variety of messages and interprets what we hear so that we act appropriately. With gradual hearing loss, our brains lose these connections. The longer we are without full hearing capacity, the longer adjustment will take with hearing aids. One of the lessons to be learned from this fact is to see a hearing specialist early–don’t wait until your hearing loss is severe.
Answer these questions to test yourself on possible hearing loss:
– Do you avoid talking on the phone?
– Do you have trouble hearing in large, open spaces?
– Do others complain about the loudness of the TV?
– Do you have trouble hearing people at meetings?
– Do you still enjoy music the way you used to?
– Do you miss nature’s sounds, such as birds in trees, leaves rustling?
– Do you have to ask people to repeat themselves?
– Do you find your hearing loss makes you feel isolated and depressed?
Today hearing aids utilize the latest technology to help people keep their social contacts and live a more fulfilling, connected life.
The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) is the nation’s leading organization representing people with hearing loss. For more information, visit their website, www.hearingloss.org