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If you’ve just been diagnosed with a hearing loss, and you’re ready to do something about it, communicating your experience with your loved ones is an important step. You may be worried they’ll treat you differently, or start speaking more loudly at you every time they talk to you. You want their support as you seek treatment and adjust to life with hearing aids, but you’re not sure how to start the conversation. A new study shows that how you choose to disclose your hearing loss can make a big difference in your hearing health outcomes, and the kind of support you can expect from your family and friends.
Three Disclosure Strategies
Researchers from Massachusetts Eye and Ear talked to 337 people about their disclosure styles, and looked at the long-term effectiveness of each style. They found that there are three different disclosure strategies people use to let their loved ones know about their hearing loss. However, not all of these styles are very effective.
The first category of disclosures were people who didn’t want to talk about their hearing loss. They called this group non-disclosers, and not surprisingly, these people didn’t have an easy time dealing with their hearing loss. Rather than being open about their hearing loss, non-disclosers use blunt statements, like “I can’t hear you”, or even blame others, saying things like “please speak louder,” or “stop mumbling”.
This isn’t a very effective way of dealing with hearing loss, since non-disclosures don’t want to admit that they are struggling to hear. Loved ones are often confused by this behavior, since they don’t realize you’re struggling to hear. They might think you’re just having a bad day, and not clue in to the fact that you simply can’t understand the conversations happening around the dinner table.
The next category is Basis Disclosers, and these disclosers recognize that they have hearing loss. In some situations, they’re willing to talk about their hearing loss, or even ask for help. They will tell their loved ones they can’t hear, and sometimes ask for friends to speak up so they can hear more easily. These people do receive some support from their families, and have better health outcomes.
Multipurpose Disclosers are those who talk freely about their hearing loss, and ask for accommodations whenever they need them. They often brainstorm ways to hear more clearly, like turning down the music, or choosing a quiet restaurant for dinner. Women are more than twice as likely to be Multipurpose Disclosers, and are better at explaining their hearing loss. People who use this disclosure method have great health outcomes, and full support family and friends, who make sure to include them in conversations, encourage them to seek treatment, and provide as many accommodations as possible.
Choosing the Best Way to Disclose Your Hearing Loss
For the best health outcomes, researchers say choosing the Multipurpose Disclosure strategy can make a huge difference. Family and friends were more than happy to make accommodations, and include them in all situations. These disclosures not only had better hearing outcomes, but also higher quality of life, and rated themselves as being happier than those who used other disclosure strategies.
Choosing the Multipurpose Disclosure Method will “help them gain the confidence they need to disclose their hearing loss and improve communication with others,” said senior author Konstantina Stankovic, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, a researcher at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. “We think it can be empowering for patients to know that these strategies, and especially the multipurpose disclosure strategy, are available to them,” Dr. Stankovic explains.
Are you nervous to talk about your hearing loss with your family and friends, or worried that it will change your relationships? Being open about your hearing loss will strengthen your friendships, and is the best thing you can do to maintain healthy relationships. You’ll be surprised by how non-judgmental your family will be if you choose the right disclosure method. Your family wants what’s best for you, and we can guarantee that they’ll be supportive.
Visit Us at Exceptional Hearing Care
Take the first step in addressing your hearing loss, and talk about it with your loved ones. Treating hearing loss will help improve your hearing – and your relationships with your loved ones. Visit us at Exceptional Hearing Care for a hearing test. We have the right hearing device for you that can get your back to hearing effortlessly, and make being open about your hearing loss a breeze.