How can we lead our best lives despite the challenges of hearing loss?
In our new book, Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss, Gael Hannan and I explore just that question. Our formula is based not only on our personal experiences but also on the experiences of thousands of other people like us. Our principles are corroborated by hearing science, tremendous advances in technology, and the development of modern hearing care principles such as person-centered care.
What took us years to collect and understand, we share with you—a manual for better living. We hope it will help you live more skillfully with your hearing loss and inspire your family and friends to join your hearing loss team.
“What is it like to live with hearing loss?
Those who have hearing loss find it hard to describe. Those who don’t have it find it hard to understand, especially in someone they love.
Why can you hear well in some situations but not in others? How can you be sensitive to loud noises, yet watch the tv at maximum volume? Why do the activities you once enjoyed now seem to take so much energy? Why don’t hearing aids fix the problem the way glasses usually fix vision?
Whether you’re new to hearing loss or have been living with it for a long time, you have probably felt the unwelcome change that hearing loss imposes on even the smallest corners of your communication life. With no operating manual to help you figure out how to live with it, you’ve been getting by on information pieced together from various sources—yet communication often seems incomplete and unsatisfying.
You may be frustrated and isolated, perhaps even angry. These feelings are normal, shared at some point by almost everyone who has hearing loss—including your authors.
In our separate journeys, we struggled and found nothing changed, because we didn’t know how to make things better. But eventually, through trial and error and the good fortune of meeting other amazing people with hearing loss, we each learned to live more skillfully. We shifted our focus from wanting to hear better to wanting to communicate better.
And that changed everything.”
In Hear & Beyond, we share our three-legged stool of strategies for skillful living. A three-legged stool is unique because it never wobbles, even on uneven ground. While each of the three legs is critical to living well with hearing loss, when they work together, the magic happens.
The three legs are:
Hearing loss often comes with negative emotions. We may battle stigma or embarrassment and experience frustration or sadness because conversations now take more work. These emotions hinder our ability to put our hearing loss in its proper place in our life and our identity. When we reframe unproductive attitudes into constructive statements, we can create a healthier approach to hearing loss. For example, rather than being angry at our hearing devices when they are less than perfect, we can remind ourselves that technology is our friend. Our hearing devices let us hear sounds we may have forgotten or never heard before.
For most people with hearing loss, this means hearing aids. While hearing aids do not return your hearing to “normal” the way glasses do for vision, they make conversations easier, especially in quiet environments. Enhance their performance with additional technology tools like remote microphones, TV streamers, and even apps. My favorites are speech-to-text apps that can transcribe your conversations in real-time. When we embrace hearing technology of all types, we improve our chances for better communication, allowing us to stay connected to the people and activities we love.
Behavioral changes alone can sometimes transform difficult conversations into easier ones. These include things like letting other people know about our hearing loss and asking them to speak louder or to keep their faces uncovered so we will have a better view of their lips for speechreading. In the book, we share our favorite tool, “HEAR,” a process that helps you identify, ask for, and implement the changes you need to optimize any listening situation.
Whether you are new to hearing loss or have been living with it for some time, there are numerous strategies that can help you better manage the challenges. For more information, visit HearAndBeyond.com. Hear & Beyond is available wherever books are sold.