(BPT) - This holiday season may look very different from years past — more family get-togethers on video rather than in-person — but one thing remains true: these times can be stressful and difficult for those managing hearing loss, which impacts 48 million Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Hearing loss has been shown to affect nearly every dimension of human life, including physical, emotional and mental health. During the holidays, it can be even more overwhelming for those living with hearing loss, since many have a difficult time following conversations or fully participating in family traditions, and studies have shown this can lead to feeling more isolated and excluded from family festivities.
These experiences are all too familiar for Eric Jackson, the renowned former U.S. World Champion and Olympic Kayaker, who has lived with hearing loss most of his life after a bout with scarlet fever as a child.
“During special occasions when you are with people you haven’t seen in a while, you can’t be fully engaged with them, and unlike the people around you, you are not able to catch up the same way, which ends up feeling like you are missing out on the fun,” said Jackson.
Now at age 54, his hearing has been partially restored over time, but he continues to rely on his ReSound ONE hearing aids and lip reading to help him communicate. “When you have hearing loss, you don’t realize how smart, witty and funny family and friends can be, and having fully functional hearing aids changes that dramatically,” said Jackson.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), nearly 30 million Americans could benefit from using hearing aids. “Since I first began using hearing aids, I am amazed at the advancements in hearing technology, but it all starts with taking a hearing test to understand the best approach for you,” said Jackson, who is now partnering with ReSound to encourage others to manage their hearing loss.
As people spend time with family and friends this year either in person or via virtual gathering methods, below are some tips Eric has shared from his own experiences to help improve communication:
- Always wear your hearing aids and adjust the settings as needed depending on your environment.
- Be honest and direct with people about your hearing loss, and if you ask them, they are usually willing to speak up and more clearly.
- Position yourself front and center at the table or in the middle of the screen so you can lip read — an important cue to help identify speech.
- Use a “secret signal” between you and a friend or relative to let them know you are having trouble hearing and need something repeated as they will help keep you in the conversation.
- During a longer exchange, don’t be shy about asking to move to a quieter location so you are able to understand the conversation better.
If you believe you may be experiencing hearing loss or if a loved one is showing signs of hearing loss, visit ReSound.com to take a free online hearing test and start the new year by taking action about your hearing.