Hearing loss usually happens so gradually that we learn to accommodate its effects by becoming very good at things like recognising facial expressions, understanding body language, using visual clues and trying to lip read. Later, we may well begin to avoid certain situations, like parties, where there is a lot of background noise. During this time, it is possible that communication, and social events in particular, will become a strain. This can lead to feelings of isolation. Even a mild hearing loss can affect interpersonal relationships and many kinds of social interaction, including working careers.
It is important to recognise that a hearing loss doesn’t just affect the person with the hearing loss; it also affects their families and their friends. The truth is that hearing loss is likely to affect all of us at some stage both directly, when our own hearing deteriorates, and indirectly, when a loved one begins to struggle.
It is often these friends and family who notice the first signs of a hearing impairment – for example, complaining that the TV is louder than normal, that they have to repeat themselves or that they are often misheard.
This is also why we always recommend asking a family member, or a friend, to come to our free hearing test. Not only does this provide some useful and friendly support, but it also helps us understand the effect any hearing loss may be having.