We will continue with part two of our discussion on denial and hearing loss. In this article, we will examine the effects hearing loss denial has on individuals and their families and how denial can be an obstacle to hearing aid use.

Long-term denial is problematic for many reasons. Once individuals start to experience difficulties communicating with others, they often isolate themselves to avoid such situations.

When the topic of hearing loss is brought up, individuals may withdraw further or fall further into denial. Another major disadvantage of denying hearing loss is that it prevents people from seeking help. Most hearing loss is treatable, but when the individual is in denial, treatment is delayed causing a further strain on relationships as communication will only continue to suffer.

Denial may also result in the rejection of hearing aids. People may think that their hearing is not bad enough to warrant hearing aids. They may compensate for the loss by turning up the TV or having others speak loudly to them. Compensating for hearing loss only serves to worsen their denial.

Stigmas also contribute to hearing loss denial. People may view hearing loss as something that only affects the elderly. Untreated hearing loss is an ‘invisible condition,’ so people may pass as ‘normal’ until the hearing loss becomes too great to mask. Stigmas also apply to hearing aids. If someone is embarrassed by their hearing aids, they aren’t going to wear them. Unfortunately, this only compounds the problem making things more difficult. It is often said that hearing loss is more visible than hearing aids.

Denying hearing aids will result in unmanaged hearing loss. Over time, this can lead to reorganization of the auditory pathways due to sensory deprivation. Thus, reorganizing the auditory pathways to compensate for the lack of hearing will often make it more challenging to adjust to hearing aids. This is especially true if there has been a long period of untreated hearing loss.

As outlined above, denying hearing loss can have significant repercussions. Almost all of which are avoidable. If the reasons for denial can be explored and addressed, then acceptance and intervention can begin.

Submitted by: Curt Culford, M.Cl.Sc. Aud, Reg. CASLPO Audiologist and Owner, Culford Family Hearing

102-10 Keith Ave., Collingwood  |  (705) 293-HEAR
www.culfordfamilyhearing.ca  |   culfordfamilyhearing