Hearing loss isn’t restricted to any age group but by far the majority are older people because as we age our delicate hearing organs simply ‘wear out’ (along with a lot of other body parts!!). Loss of hearing impacts on the quality of life and how this affects you depends on your frame of mind as well as the life stage you are in.
A young person with a hearing loss may underachieve in school and find it difficult to gain an education. They find it hard to hear the teachers, the other students or the lecturers at University and do not realise their potential and this means job options become limited. Getting a job without an education or where phone use is expected (as it is in most jobs) will be very difficult. Social life is a minefield. Keeping up with the banter is too fast and they feel ostracised. Frustration and anger are often the result.
An older person, at a time of life when already their social networks are disintegrating, will find it more difficult to stay in touch with friends, to take part in groups and attend social or community gatherings. Television and radio become harder to understand. They are often forced to change their job or get out of the workforce altogether. They get a feeling of being ‘past it’. Getting a new job is well nigh impossible. Often they are forced to take jobs which require fewer skills this makes them feel useless.
These are the outward affects of hearing loss. However, it goes deeper than that. Loss of confidence is a huge issue particularly for those who have become deafened in later life. Without hope of ever hearing again, of their world ever being the same, communication is difficult and thus self esteem drops and many slip into depression. They remove themselves from circumstances which cause embarrassment and miss out on occasions which would probably help them recover from depression. If hearing loss continues untreated for a long period of time, or there seems to be no solution, clinical depression can be the result.
The way you respond to your hearing loss will depend on your stage of life, your personality, the way you deal with set-backs and your support group; family, friends, colleagues. It is an individual response and not everyone is affected, nor deals with the changes in the same way.
There is no one ‘correct way’ to avert depression and deal with the challenges you face, but it is important to get professional help to make sure you get the best medical outcome possible. Talking to friends, family and joining support group can be a way of reducing the isolation while helping you to understand what is happening to you. Knowing you are not alone helps you to take positive action to deal with your changed hearing.