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Women are better than men!

…at disclosing their hearing loss.

Posted: 4th March 2016

DeafHear.ie Women are better than men! …at disclosing their hearing loss.
 

Although a quarter of a million adults in Ireland have significant hearing loss that affects their ability to communicate, the majority of them have taken no action to address it. In fact, people take an average of ten years to address their acquired hearing loss, even though research has shown that this delay compromises their quality of life and increases the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Many researchers have reported that people are reluctant to address their hearing loss because they may associate hearing loss with ageing, (which is understandable, as most people with acquired hearing loss are aged over 50), or they are reluctant to consider wearing hearing aids.

Most people report that when they are fitted with hearing aids, it greatly improves their quality of life. And a French study in 2015 reported that hearing aids can slow down the rate of cognitive decline. But given that people are reluctant to address their hearing loss in the first place, the question arises as to how people manage their hearing loss after they have taken steps to deal with it. In Boston recently researchers looked at if and how people discussed their hearing loss with others… and they found that women were much more likely to do so than men!

 

women were twice as likely as men
to tell others about their hearing loss


One third rarely disclose their hearing loss

The researchers, Jessica West and Konstantina Stankovic from Harvard University and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital in Boston, wanted to look at how people discussed their hearing loss with others.

The participants in their study were 337 people with hearing loss who attended otology clinics in the Boston area. Around 29% of the participants had a mild hearing loss, 40% had a moderate loss and 30% had severe or profound hearing losses.

They found that one third of participants rarely, if ever, told people about their hearing loss. One in seven (14%) tended to share information about their hearing loss with people all or most of the time. Interestingly, participants reported that when they felt they had been met with support on disclosing their hearing loss, they were more than twice as likely to do so again.


Women more likely to disclose and discuss their hearing loss

The researchers found that women were twice as likely as men to tell others about their hearing loss. They also looked at how the participants disclosed or discussed their hearing loss. They identified two categories: ‘multipurpose disclosure’, which included phrases that disclose hearing loss and provide information that facilitates communication; and ‘basic disclosure’, which described hearingloss using a term, label or basic details about the condition.

Women were more likely to use a multipurpose disclosure approach when talking about their hearing loss, such as ‘please sit on my left side, as I hear better with my left ear’. Men who disclosed their hearing loss were more likely to use a basic disclosure approach. The researchers believe that the multipurpose disclosure approach favoured by women is helpful, as “this strategy would provide commmunication partners with a simple, straight-forward explanation of the hearing loss while highlighting ways in which communication partners can help the person with hearing loss to hear better in the situation,” said West and Stankovic. “It focusses on how to improve communicative interaction rather then on the hearing loss itself.”

 

Quarter of a million adults in Ireland have hearing loss.
 
If you suspect you may have a hearing loss, don’t ignore it!

Visit: www.mindyourhearing.ie

 

Getting support

Brendan Lennon, DeafHear’s Head of Advocacy says it is not surprising that a large number of people in the study tended not to disclose their hearing loss to others, even though we know that it is helpful to do so! “Many people can feel a little embarassed to tell others about their hearing loss, but we also know that it can be more embarassing to ignore hearing loss,” says Lennon. DeafHear advises anyone who is struggling with hearing loss to get their hearing checked… and if they are struggling to manage their hearing aids or having difficulties with communication, to consider enrolling in one of our ‘Learning to Live with Hearing Loss’ courses.

Source: West, J.S., Low, C.M. and Stankovic, K.M. Revealing Heearing Loss: A Survey of How People Verbally Disclose Their Hearing Loss. Ear and Hearing, Vol. 37, p194-205, 2016

 

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Related to this story…

To learn more about how hearing aids
can improve quality of life:

Hearing Aids Help!

A large study of 5,000 hearing aid users conducted by Boots Hearingcare in the UK found that hearing aids can be beneficial to the quality of life of people with hearing loss. [Read On]

DeafHear.ie Hearing Aids Help!

To learn more about hearing loss
and cognitive decline:

World expert says using hearing aids could help fight dementia.

Professor Frank Lin is a world expert on hearing loss and cognitive decline, and he is Professor of geriatric medicine and otolaryngology at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. He recently spoke about the implications of hearing loss. [Read On]

DeafHear.ie World expert says using hearing aids could help fight dementia.

To learn more about how hearing aids can help
slow down the rate of cognitive decline:

Hearing Aids helps keep your brain healthy!

A French study has confirmed for the first time that using hearing aids slows down the rate of cognitive decline for people with hearing loss. Cognitve decline includes things like memory and concentration. [Read On]

DeafHear.ie To learn more about how hearing aids can help slow down the rate of cognitive decline.

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DeafHear.ie will provide spokespersons to comment on issues relevant to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people on request.

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