Even mild hearing loss is a serious problem that cannot be ignored. It does not allow many to live a full life, and it causes other serious problems. People with untreated hearing loss experience not only physical but also psychological anguish, which cannot be resolved in one day.
Our experience shows that people are in no hurry to seek help at the first symptoms of hearing loss, significantly aggravating the situation. Often, the closest and beloved people add to the problem, instead of encouraging them to fix it. Quite unexpected, isn’t it? Let’s figure out together why this happens and what to do in order not to get into such trouble.
What is compensatory behavior?
Most adult patients with hearing loss seek help rather late. The average duration of untreated hearing loss is 5 to 7 years in the United States. Why is this happening?
Very often, hearing loss is first noticed not by the hearing impaired, but by his relatives that spend the most time together. Hearing loss and communication are closely related, so the first signs of an impending problem are easy to spot. However, instead of immediately seeking help from an audiologist, people try to compensate for the difficulties on their own. Of course, the desire to help is a manifestation of true feelings. However, in most cases, it leads to the development of compensatory behavior, which ultimately harms the person with the hearing problem and relationships with relatives. How do you recognize when you are in trouble?
Constant repetition of what was said during communication
As I already noted, hearing loss and communication are inseparable when your loved one has hearing loss, then you’ll immediately identify them during communication. People with hearing loss often ask to repeat a word or a whole phrase because they cannot recognize it. Do you repeat phrases without hesitation, or reformulate them with every request? It’s compensatory behavior.
Increased volume of voice, music, or TV
All loved ones of a person suffering from hearing loss speak louder. In addition, the volume level of all electronic devices (TV, smartphone, etc.) in the house rises.
Manifestation of social isolation
A person with untreated hearing loss has a problem communicating with others. Close people usually help, but strangers simply stop communicating or directly point to the problem. It inflicts a strong blow on the patient’s mental state, which leads to the termination of any contact with outsiders. At the same time, a loved one, trying to support the patient so that he does not feel lonely, only increases social isolation. Such couples do not go to the movies, concerts, or barbecues with friends, trying to spend as much time together as possible.
The confusion that a person may experience as a result of hearing loss can lead to agitation, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness and isolation. To curb negative side effects, it’s important to address your symptoms by consulting with a trained audiologist (such as Dr. Stella Fulman or Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro at Audiology Island) and by adopting practical habits to help you remain connected with your community.
False hopes appear in both family members and a person with a hearing loss. The first hope that their loved one will soon seek help. The patient himself expects that his difficulties will end by themselves. Unfortunately, both are wrong. Untreated hearing loss does not disappear by itself, but only progresses over time. As a result, precious time for quick hearing recovery is wasted. Did you recognize yourself in the above examples? Then you have compensatory behavior, which needs to be corrected urgently! It is especially relevant for age-related hearing loss. After all, it develops gradually. People get used to new realities and do not go to the doctor until the situation becomes critical.
Why is compensatory behavior dangerous?
Helping a loved one to overcome all difficulties is a correct and wonderful manifestation of your feelings. Nobody argues with this. However, help must be correct in a timely manner.
Dr. Stella Fulman emphasizes that constant repetition and increasing the volume of the voice will not eliminate the cause of the hearing loss, but, on the contrary, will only aggravate it. It is especially dangerous if compensatory behavior becomes a habit. In this case, mild hearing loss will turn into a moderate or severe degree. In addition, a person’s risks of cognitive decline will increase. Add to the list spacial orientation problem, accidental falls, and severe injuries. All this is the result of covering up the problem and trying to solve difficulties on their own.
Inappropriate relationships with hearing loss also make the situation worse. Therefore, I recommend that you read up on our communication tips for hearing loss. They are quite effective!
How to help a loved one?
It is hard to imagine, but according to statistics, thousands of Americans get divorced due to relationships with hearing loss. The reason for this is compensatory behavior, which, it would seem, on the contrary, should unite loving people. However, experience shows that people quickly get tired of difficulties. Love and sympathy between once close people are fading away. Yes, untreated hearing loss and resentment accompany each other. But you can handle it!
The first thing to do is to determine if there is a problem. We recommend that you take our hearing test online. It is available at any time convenient for you. The results will show the presence/absence of the problem for further action. And yes, it’s completely free!
Don’t panic if the results come back positive. You shouldn’t change your behavior to compensate for the problem. Just seek help from an experienced hearing care professional. The audiologist will correct the cause of the problem and restore your hearing.
You’ll most likely need to use a hearing aid daily. Do not be afraid of this. Modern devices are very effective and practically invisible to prying eyes. No one except you and those closest to you’ll know that you are using them. Today, selecting hearing aids online is a breeze. But this should be done only after consulting an audiologist. Don’t do it yourself! The doctor will select the optimal model for you, taking into account the hearing loss and individual wishes.
Untreated hearing loss can cause emotional or social problems. Failure to understand what other people are saying can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression. Therefore, it is very important that the family and loved ones support the hearing impaired person and, if necessary, advise him to see a doctor for help. Some people are embarrassed to admit that they do not understand other people’s speech. In this case, your support and understanding are essential. And most importantly, relationships with hearing loss can be long and happy despite all the difficulties!
About Dr Stella Fulman
Dr. Stella Fulman, AU.D., CCC-A received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Audiology from Brooklyn College in 2004 and her Doctorate of Audiology from Salus University in 2008. [ Learn More ]