SayWhatClub

How To Enjoy The Holidays With Hearing Loss

Guest blogger Paisley Hansen discusses how to enjoy the holidays with hearing loss.

Tips for Having a Joyous Holiday With Hearing Loss

The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone, but if you experience hearing loss, they can be especially difficult. As much as you want to be a part of the festivities, hearing problems can present a special challenge for both sufferers and the people that surround them. This holiday
might be the perfect time to change that. Here are several tips on hearing loss and how to survive this magical time of year for you or someone you love.

Hearing Loss Affects All Ages

Many people associate hearing loss with the elderly. Although seniors can lose a portion of their hearing due to aging, there are also a lot of young men and women dealing with the same. You may have been surprised to see young people out and about wearing hearing aids. There’s no
age group that’s excluded, and anyone can feel the detachment that comes as a result of missing out on meaningful conversations.

Difficulties for the Sufferer

The feeling of isolation that comes from not hearing properly may, in some ways, be worse than the actual hearing loss itself. Some people tend to withdraw from activities and dialogues leaving them feeling awkward and vulnerable to misunderstandings. Holiday time can be especially tough with so much going on, and you want to avoid that at all cost.

Frustration for Loved Ones

Hearing loss can also be difficult for friends and loved ones in several different ways. First, the fact that you might not be able to be part of holiday discussions can be heartbreaking. They want you to be included and miss talking to you. Second, a family may push for you to get help
before you’re ready. This can create tension even in the closest of families.

Dementia in Older People

When a person suffers hearing loss, their brain works overtime to pick up the slack. Not only is this taxing on a person, but it can lead to depression and further isolation. In a worst case scenario, many people are left to their own thoughts and perceptions and, in some cases, this can lead to earlier than usual onset of dementia.

Stigma and Listening Devices

Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma today that surrounds wearing a hearing instrument in that it somehow makes a person look old. This is not true. Today’s devices are far more advanced than the clunky, old models of yesteryear. They’re smaller, colorful and some even work off
Bluetooth. Certain models can’t even be seen. Others look like over-the-ear Bluetooth pieces, so instead of looking out of place, they actually look very trendy.

Communication Is Essential

If you know that your family is worried, holding a serious talk regarding your hearing loss is essential. If they’re pestering you to seek help before you’re ready, it can cause resentment. It’s important to let them know your feelings and fears, and for you to understand them as well. Being on the same page can help avoid strain in the relationship and you can all agree on a
plan of action.

People May Shy Away

Some people may react to hearing loss by shying away at holiday gatherings. They may not want to speak loudly for fear of offending you or calling a lot of attention to the conversation. This can be especially trying if the discussion is personal or in a small setting.
Tell People You’re Hard of Hearing. If you’re headed out for a celebration and feel anxious, never be afraid to tell others that you are
hard of hearing. People are a lot more understanding than you think and will make every effort to make sure you’re comfortable. Being upfront can really help to avoid misunderstandings
within your group.

Avoid Cramped and Crowded Places

Attending events in small, enclosed areas with a lot of people can make for a background noise nightmare. People with unilateral hearing loss especially don’t do well in this type of setting. This includes bars and busy restaurants where the sound of clanging dishes and loud voices can be
overwhelming. Holiday shopping in crowded malls can be much the same. Instead, plan on small-scale shopping or dining in a quieter location.

Position Yourself

When you’re at a party or dinner, be sure to position yourself where you can see everyone. This makes it easier to be in the middle of an exchange, and will help for making eye contact as well as picking up on cues and gestures.

Take a Co-Pilot

If you’re nervous about social settings, it always helps to take a trusted friend to back you up. Sometimes it’s just easier to get involved in chit-chat when you have a familiar face who can relay things to you that you might miss.

Navigating Loud Parties

Attending a party with loud music makes it hard for anybody to hear, even if they don’t experience hearing loss. If you’re headed to a large festivity with someone that has a degree of hearing loss, keep in mind that not only is it difficult to hear, but a combination of music and yelling produces sensory overload which can cause headaches and even dizziness.

Children and the Holidays

If you have children or grandchildren, the holidays are even more fun! Naturally, you want to take part in their gift opening and merry-making. Small children don’t understand hearing loss,
they just want you in on the fun, too. You don’t want to miss a child’s joy and laughter, or hearing their questions if you tell them a holiday story.

Christmas Music

Is there any part of Christmas quite as nostalgic as music? Christmas tunes can be very sentimental. Getting help for your hearing can allow you to enjoy and relive the wonderful memories that Christmas music brings.

Get Decked Out

While you’re getting yourself decked out for a holiday event, if you’ve gotten an ear piece, it’ll be your best accessory! If you’re feeling apprehensive about wearing it, remember these instruments are designed to blank out annoying noises so you can enjoy normal dialogue. Your
hosts will be thrilled to see you taking part again, and you can be proud of yourself for taking charge of your life.

The Holidays Alone

What if you don’t have a large family or holiday plans? If you’re more of a loner, there are still a lot of things you could improve if you have hearing loss. Think of your favorite TV shows and specials and of course, Christmas carols. Taking care of your hearing is much better for your
well-being. You need to know what’s going on around you. It can also give you the confidence to be more social.

A Holiday Gift for Yourself

If you’re ready for a change this year, why not give yourself the best gift you can and find out about getting help for your hearing loss. You deserve to be included in celebrations, dinners and memorable conversations. Don’t let another holiday season go by without allowing yourself to relish every minute.

Listen to What You’ve Been Missing

What have you missed hearing the most? It could be music, the sound of a thunderstorm or the rustling of wind through the trees. You may not realize how much you’ve been missing, not just at holiday time, but all the time. Hearing means being part of an important family discussion. It
means voicing your opinion and listening to everyone else. It also means laughing at jokes and being included in decision-making. It can even mean hearing someone say they love you. It’s time to listen to what you’ve been missing.

Hearing Loss and Disability Benefits

Hearing Loss and Disability Benefits

BY: Rachel Gaffney

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers a monthly benefit to those unable to work for more than 12 months due to a disabling condition. If your hearing loss is keeping you from working, you may be eligible to receive these monthly benefits. If approved, disability benefits can be used for daily living needs such as medical costs, rent or mortgage, utility bills, etc.

Medical Qualifications

To medically qualify, you will need to meet one of the SSA’s hearing loss listings in the Blue Book. The Blue Book is the SSA’s own guide used to evaluate Social Security applicants. There are two listings in the Blue Book for hearing loss, one with a cochlear implant or without.

If you do not have a cochlear implant, to qualify you need to:

  • Have a threshold of 90 decibels or greater in your better ear
  • An average bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 decibels or more in the better ear
    OR
  • Have a word recognition score of 40% or less in the better ear

If you do have a cochlear implant, you can qualify one full year after surgery if:

  • You’re still eligible using HINT
  • Your word recognition is less than 60%, you will still be eligible

The Blue Book is available online. You should review it with your audiologist to determine if you’ll qualify. Different hearing tests will be needed to be approved for benefits, so reviewing with your audiologist will help ensure you can get the proper examinations done. Keep any results and records to help support your claim.

Before starting your application, it’s important to remember that the SSA will evaluate your claim based on the hearing in your best ear. You will not qualify if you are deaf in one ear but can hear well in the other. If you use hearing aids and they dramatically improve your hearing, you will not qualify. Those who qualify are unable to hear even with the use of hearing aids or other hearing devices.

Technical Qualifications

Even if you meet one of the Blue Book listings for hearing loss, you still may not be approved for benefits if you do not meet the technical qualifications. There are two types of disability benefits you may qualify for. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is based on household income, so even if you are unable to work but a spouse is and makes a decent income then you may not qualify.

The other type of benefit, Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), is based on work credits. Work credits are obtained by paying into Social Security taxes. If you worked five of the past ten years, you will likely have enough work credits to qualify.

Starting the Application

To apply for Social Security disability benefits, you can begin the application online on the SSA’s site. This way, you can save the application if you are unable to finish it right away. You may also apply in person at your local SSA office if you prefer discussing your application with an SSA representative. To do so, make an appointment by calling the SSA at 1-800-325-0778 TTY.

Helpful Links:

https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/2.00-SpecialSensesandSpeech-Adult.htm – 2_10

https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm

https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/social-security-disability-work-credit

https://secure.ssa.gov/iClaim/dib

https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/state-social-security-disability

Hearing for Two

by Claudia Sanders

 

When my hearing friend talked about her challenges living with her hearing loss husband, I encouraged her to share her feelings. After all, hearing loss is a communication disorder and affects both the person with hearing loss and the person they talk with. What follows is a result of our conversations.

Normal Hearing

I have normal hearing. My husband, on the other hand, has significant hearing loss. While it’s obvious that there’s an impact on the life of a person with hearing loss, there’s also an unrecognized impact on the partner with good hearing.
I’ve considered writing about this impact for some time but have been reluctant for fear of sounding selfish or appearing to paint myself as a victim. The last thing I want is for any person with hearing loss to think that their partner feels they are burden. I do think it’s important, though, to acknowledge that hearing loss not only affects a couple’s communication, but that it also affects them individually. Understanding the impact can lead to effective and creative strategies to reduce frustration for both parties.

Hearing for Two

I realized that I was hearing for two when, I became aware that I was usually on “high alert” when I was out with my husband. Successful strategies help at home. However, whether at a store, doctor’s office, social gathering, restaurant, museum, checking in at an airport or one of the many other places where hearing is important or critical, I am always poised to intervene and help him know what is being said, or asked of him. There are times when I feel the need to tell a friend or stranger, “He didn’t hear you” because of their puzzled look when he doesn’t respond or appears to ignore them.

Communication

The research I’ve done on the effect of hearing loss on the hearing partner has turned up little. Most articles provide tips for the spouse with normal hearing on how to communicate with their partners. The focus, and rightfully so, is on how frustrating and exhausting it is to have hearing loss. The articles also say how one’s partner can help by communicating clearly. What usually isn’t mentioned, though, is how exhausting it is to hear for two. It’s hard to relax knowing that your partner may be missing important information or that he or she is not feeling included in a social situation. The impulse to step in and help is always there and it’s hard to know when to intervene or wait to be asked.

One of the main challenges for both parties is managing the guilt felt by each. The partner with hearing loss doesn’t want to be a burden or too reliant on the hearing spouse. He or she is reluctant to ask for things to be repeated or interpreted and the hearing spouse feels guilty for the occasional feelings of frustration. Open, caring, honest conversations on the most effective way to navigate hearing loss together, can provide insight into what each person is feeling and experiencing and help find solutions to reduce frustration.

Claudia Sanders worked as a job developer and vocational rehabilitation counselor in a non-profit agency helping people with disabilities and barriers obtain and maintain employment. She currently has a part time business as a professional organizer and is a hospice volunteer in her free time.