By Lorraine Gailey
Chief Executive, Hearing Link
Everyone’s hearing loss journey is different: How it started; when it started; when they realised there might be an issue; how they reacted to it.
For some, they might ignore it for as long as possible or pretend it’s not happening. Others want to fix it and find practical solutions as soon as they can. Many involuntarily, almost imperceptibly, start to retreat from social activities.
Yet there’s something that everyone has in common: Hearing loss doesn’t just affect your ears, but impacts much deeper.
At Hearing Link, a leading UK charity for people with any level of hearing loss, we understand that the consequences can be dramatic, even devastating – not just for the person directly affected, but their family, friends and colleagues too. Hearing loss can influence every part life: relationships, status at work, confidence and self-esteem.
Sue from Southampton explains: “I felt very isolated. It’s funny – you could be surrounded by people and feel so lonely.”
Sue and her husband contacted Hearing Link’s Helpdesk after learning about the charity through their hearing therapist. Offering information, guidance and support, the Hearing Link team helped Sue and Tony take steps to live more confidently with her hearing loss.
Sue explains: “Hearing Link it was the start of a road to recovery. It showed me a light at the end of a dark tunnel.”
With a reduced ability to communicate, the result of hearing loss is often frustration, anxiety, depression, isolation and a gradual withdrawal that shatters families and disrupts careers.
Shona, a manager at a national utility company, says: “At work I worked extra hard to make up for my hearing loss, really struggling to hear in a crowd. Gradually, I felt myself getting more tired and less prepared to take responsibility for all the changes I needed to make to communicate.
“I battled to cover it up because I didn’t want to be different from the next person or admit I needed help. I just muddled through. However, gradually it started to catch up with me and I found myself in a very dark place.”
Through the support received via Hearing Link, Shona’s new-found confidence inspired her to change her life. Now, as well as volunteering for the charity to help others benefit from their support, she is busier than ever. She volunteers as a trustee of lipreading charity, takes part in university research projects, fundraising activities, travelling and attending conferences. Overall, she is much more out-going and upfront about her hearing loss and needs – and so much happier for it.
Looking beyond technology
While excellent technology and advances in surgery play a vital role in managing hearing loss today; getting the best out of them often requires additional support for the individual to develop effective communications strategies, improve knowledge and maintain their confidence.
The best possible start is to understand they are not alone. By sharing experiences with others in similar situations, they can start to adapt and develop skills to help reconnect and embrace life again.
Marc, 38, was struggling with hearing loss when he turned to Hearing Link’s Community Support Volunteers – a friendly network who provide practical and personal advice to people living with hearing loss and their family.
He connected with two volunteers who faced similar issues. Marc explained: “Just the act of reaching out, taking that one step, was all it took to turn my slowly shrinking world into one of joy and laughter again. Hearing Link helped me to realise I am not alone in the silence. It gave me the confidence and my drive, and kept me in a world of work when I was at the point of giving up completely.”
Wherever you are on your hearing loss journey, Hearing Link can help.
Whether you are directly or indirectly affected through a family member, friend or colleague, Hearing Link offers information, guidance and signposting to help you take your next step.
We provide personalised and practical support from people who experience hearing loss themselves, direct you to appropriate local organisations and services, or access to specialist training and rehabilitation programmes.
“Hearing Link gave me back my ME!” − Wynne
If you are looking for answers, seeking support, or simply need to talk to someone who understands, please get in touch with the Hearing Link Helpdesk. Call 0300 111 1113, Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Text 07526 123 255, or visit www.hearinglink.org.
About Hearing Link
Hearing Link is a leading UK charity for people with any level of hearing loss, their family and friends.
Through shared experiences, practical support and guidance from people who experience hearing loss themselves, Hearing Link enables those living with hearing loss to reconnect and embrace life.
Its vision is a world where everyone can enjoy life and participate fully and confidently, whatever their level of hearing.