Is your hearing loss leaving you feeling just a little less than? Less than intelligent, perhaps, because you must fight to stay involved in every conversation. How about a little alone? It probably seems like your friends and family are avoiding you. Maybe hearing loss has left you devoid of energy. Just the effort to hear and comprehend every sound is exhausting.
Depression is a natural side effect of hearing loss, especially when it is associated with aging, because the decline is gradual and easy to miss. In between the various moods you experience are periods of enhanced stress because you don’t really understand what’s happening to you. If all this sounds a bit like your life, then you could probably use a pick-me-up. How about a compliment?
A 2012 study published by the National Institutes of Natural Science discovered that people improve when someone offers them a compliment. The ability to give and receive compliments provides a number of health benefits like a stronger immune system and better productivity, too. Of course, if you have hearing loss, you are not enjoying those compliments like you used to or the health perks that come with them. What kinds of compliments do you think you might be missing?
The Ones That Offer Support
When is the last time a person you cared about said they believe in you? With hearing impairment, they might be doing just that and you wouldn’t know. That feeling of accomplishment that comes with this compliment is difficult to muster regularly without the support from your friends and family. Maybe you feel a sense of power when you finish a project or get in a workout, but it’s fleeting sensation without reinforcement. As a society, we rely heavily on what the people in our lives think of the things we do.
If you have presbycusis, the technical name for hearing loss that occurs with age, you may not hear your grandchild say she believes and loves you or that special person in your life’s message of support. This type of hearing problem makes high tones like the female voice hard to comprehend.
You might, on the other hand, easily pick out the sound of a man’s voice, but it isn’t clear and crisp. The deep tones come off more like gruff and less like a statement of support because you miss the occasional word and your brain fills in the void.
Age-related hearing loss is a consequence of the things people do all their lives that damage their hearing like wearing headphones or going to concerts each week. Even playing the music in the car loud has a cumulative effect. These actions take a toll on the delicate mechanisms of the ear, which is why professionals warn people to start protecting them early in life.
Nature’s Own Complements
Often the sounds that help the most are not man-made. Nature has its own way of soothing you with her diverse set of sounds. Do you enjoy hearing the birds sing in the morning or the wind blowing through the trees? Perhaps you like listening to the rainfall. Since presbycusis tends to develop slowly, you might not even know these things are missing from your life, well, until you put on hearing aids for the first time and they all come back to you.
The Benefit of Feeling Safe Compliments Your Life
When you lose your hearing there is more to consider than just how you feel, too. Hearing loss is a safety issue because you’ve lived your whole life relying on your ears to warn you of danger. Sound tells you there is a car coming your way and you need to move, for example. If you miss the sound of the horn, the person standing behind you yells a warning to get you going. Those danger flags are likely gone when you live with untreated hearing loss.
The Environmental Compliments
What about the little things around the house that you know longer hear? When is the last time the dryer signaled that clothes were ready? All those wrinkled clothes are enough to make anyone depressed.
There are more serious issues to think about at home, too, like the smoke alarm. Conventional ones offer a high-pitch sound that a person with a hearing problem might miss. Manufacturers now provide special types of smoke and carbon monoxide warning systems with low-frequency tones just for that reason along with other types of signals like flashing lights or shaking the beds. You won’t have these safeguards in place, though, unless you recognize your hearing loss.
Getting Back on the Compliment Track
Now that you know what you are missing, what can you do about it? There is more at stake here than just the occasional compliment to make you feel good. Hearing loss has a significant impact on your quality of life and safety. If you are noticing fewer compliments coming your way, maybe it’s time to make an appointment for a hearing exam and professional hearing test.