Many Australians suffer from hearing loss. A large percentage of the population have not done anything about their hearing loss and so experience significant difficulties. Hearing loss can negatively impact daily life in a number of ways. Hearing loss can impact you in the home, in the workplace, in social situations, and it can even negatively impact your safety. Let’s have a look at how it does this. Then we will have a look at some strategies you can use to help your hearing abilities in these environments.
Impact of hearing loss at home:
Hearing impairment not only affects the person with the impairment but also their significant other. Hearing loss can have a negative impact on our relationships and communication with others in our home environment. As humans we rely on social bonds with other people. Social bonds are created and maintained through our interactions with one another. A way to communicate and build these bonds with others can be through conversations. Hearing loss affects the way we communicate with others and can therefore effect our relationships too. In relationships where there is one person with hearing loss, the following may be true:
Frustration can occur, sparking argument and impatience
Communication is minimised due to difficulty of interaction and they only talk to each other when necessary e.g. to ask a question or to give information, rather than for social reasons.
Connection is heavily reliant on communication, meaning the depth of the relationship may suffer
The people in their lives may become distant with them as their communication is not what it once was. They may feel rejection if the person with the hearing loss is not responding to them or is socially withdrawing due to their inability to join into conversation. They could be confused as they do not understand what their partner is going through. They may feel sadness for their partner and what they have to deal with. They can also feel anger or frustration with having to repeat themselves or pick up a lot of the slack during a conversation.
Impact of hearing loss in the workplace:
Hearing loss also has a major impact in the workplace. Workplaces have listening conditions which tend to be more complex and difficult than other environments such as the home. The employee also has less control of the listening conditions in the workplace and so the coping strategies that they usually use in other aspects of their daily life may not provide benefit in the workplace. Technologies, e.g. hearing aids, that they use in other listening environments, may also not be enough. Most workplaces also tend to be reliant on communication.
People with hearing loss in the workplace may experience discrimination. They may find that their hearing loss stops them from interacting in their job. They may also find that it stops them from having the opportunity for further training. It may even affect their chances of promotion. There are cases where the hearing-impaired employee has moved jobs due to their poor treatment in the workplace. Hearing impaired workers often feel that their colleagues do not understand their hearing loss. They also often feel that their workplaces do not make enough accommodations for them to better fit in.
People with hearing loss in the workplace may find that they have high levels of fatigue and limited energy. They may fear what others will think of them and often avoid interacting with colleagues. They may also hide that they have a hearing loss and feel embarrassed and self-conscious.
Impact of hearing loss on social life:
Hearing loss can negatively affect people’s social lives. People with hearing loss may withdraw socially and avoid meeting new people, beginning relationships, and keep existing ones, as they cannot keep up with conversation. They may prefer to withdraw and isolate themselves.
They are also less likely to have a lot of activities which they participate in if they do not have hearing aids. This is because things that they used to do may not be as enjoyable anymore as they have trouble hearing in these environments/situations, e.g. at golf or bridge.
They may also avoid going out to meet with friends at cafes, restaurants, and clubs, as they have difficulty hearing in noisy environments and the effort required to listen is too much. For example, modern restaurants have poor acoustics (high ceilings and hard surfaces that the sound reflects off) making it very hard for hearing impaired people to communicate with others.
Impact of hearing loss on safety
Hearing loss can also negatively impact people’s safety. Those with hearing loss who are not wearing hearing aids may be at risk of accidents. For those with significant degrees of hearing loss who do not wear hearing aids, they may not be able to hear important signals warning them of danger. For example, not being able to hear important safety instructions, car horns when crossing the road, traffic noise before stepping onto the road, emergency vehicle sirens, smoke alarms in the home, security alarms, PA system announcements (e.g. at train stations), and people calling out to them.
The difficulties of hearing loss have been highlighted but it is important as someone dealing with hearing loss of if you know someone who does, to know some strategies for coping. Below are some coping strategies which may help reduce the negative impacts of hearing loss on daily life.
Reduce background noise, e.g. turn the TV down, when talking to others
Try hearing aids and other listening devices, e.g. TV headset
Ask for specific repeats to show that you were listening, e.g. “What did you say the name of that shop was?”
Do not talk to each other from other rooms
Make sure you can see each other’s faces to help with lip reading and expression
In the workplace
Make your hearing loss known to colleagues.
Ask people to face you and speak slowly and clearly
Ask people to get your attention before speaking to you.
Ask for accommodations, e.g. one speaker at a time, meeting minutes for after a discussion to ensure you did not miss anything
Try hearing aids and other listening devices, e.g. remote microphone.
Select venues (cafes/restaurants) with good acoustics. Make sure they have low ceilings and soft furnishings to absorb some of the noise.
Avoid places with live bands or loud music that make it difficult to talk over
Select quieter venues or go when they are less busy.
If the venue has background music, ask staff to turn it down.
Pick a table away from any doors, kitchens, or tables with noisy children.
Ask people to get your attention before talking to you.
Try hearing aids and other listening devices.
Hearing loss can negatively impact many aspects of daily life including in your home, workplace, and in social situations, as well as your safety. Luckily, there are some basic strategies available to help you hear in these environments. It is important to get your hearing tested to have a baseline test and to determine if there is a hearing loss which needs to be addressed. Call your local audiologist for a hearing test today.
Michelle Knight, one of the three women freed from a decade of imprisonment in a Cleveland home, is reportedly suffering hearing loss and facial bone damage after years of vicious beatings to her head, it has emerged.
Michelle Knight, now 32, who vanished in 2002, was found at a Cleveland home on Monday with two other women and a six-year-old girl – but she has not yet contacted her mother for a reunion.
The first details about Michelle Knight are emerging as images of her have finally been released. They show her as a teenager before she was kidnapped – at a time when she endured an often troubled relationship with her family.
She had given birth to a son who was later taken into the custody of child services, and authorities suggested to her mother that she may have fled following the upset from the ordeal.
Her mother, Barbara Knight, left her home in Naples, Florida, on Tuesday to head to Cleveland to see Michelle but they have not yet been reunited, she told the Today show.
Barbara Knight, 50, said she never gave up hope and will now be able to introduce Michelle to the half sister she has never met, 10-year-old Katie, who was born after she disappeared.
Katie was with her mother as they left for the airport on Tuesday afternoon.
On Wednesday, Barbara Knight spoke to the Today show about how she had never given up hope that her daughter was alive – but that she was led to believe the woman, then in her 20s, had fled.
“Certain people said she didn’t want nothing to do with me but still in my heart I thought no, because I knew my Michelle,” she said.
“They figured she just left because of the baby and everything.
“[Police] told me if she breaks the law or they spot her, they’ll let me know – but nothing happened.”
Barbara Knight, who said she filed a missing persons report after Michelle vanished and continued to search for her, said her sons have been reunited with Michelle but she has not yet seen her.
“I don’t want her to think that I forgot about her,” Barbara Knight said.
“Hopefully whatever happened between us, if something did – I hope it heals because I really want to take her back to Florida with me.”
Michelle Knight vanished in 2002 but she was never registered as missing on the Ohio Missing Persons website
Sources told Fox 8 that Michelle Knight appears to have facial bone damage from her horrific treatment.
But Barbara Knight said that she knew little about what had happened to Michelle since she last saw her as she has not spoken with detectives, she said.
“There was a detective who called me but he just said it was my daughter,” she said, adding that she missed his call and that he had left work when she called back.
“I didn’t get a hold of anyone.”
Instead, she only knows the details from watching news reports.
While the stories of missing Cleveland girls Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry, who were also found on Monday, have remained high-profile cases over the last decade, little is known of Michelle Knight.
While family appeals for Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry have been frequent and well-publicized over the past ten years, her case appears to have been long forgotten.
Now believed to be aged around 32, Michelle Knight was in her early twenties when she was last seen on August 23, 2002, at her cousin’s house near West 106th Street and Lorain Avenue.
Barbara Knight said she would often put up fliers around Cleveland’s West Side and even after moving away she would return to continue the search on her own as police were little help.
Michelle Knight’s grandmother, Deborah Knight, said the family, after speaking with police and social workers, had accepted that she likely left on her own free will.
They believed Michelle Knight was angry that her son had been taken into custody.
Barbara Knight previously told The Plain Dealer that her daughter vanished shortly after she was scheduled for a court appearance in the custody case of her son.
The mother told the paper that Michelle Knight had become involved with an abusive man whom she thinks injured her toddler grandson, eventually leading Michelle to lose the boy.
Michelle Knight had him as a teenager; her mother said that she had been assaulted at school but it was never taken seriously by police. She then fell pregnant soon after and dropped out of school.
Michelle Knight was never registered as missing on the Ohio Missing Persons website.
Barbara Knight told The Plain Dealer she believes she once saw her daughter walking with an older man at a shopping mall several years ago. When the woman trailed behind her companion, he would grab her by the arm and pull her along, she said.
The mother was “calmly” looking forward to the reunion according to neighbors in Naples, where she lives with her second husband Tom Hudson and members of his family.
“It’s an emotional time for them,” said Sheldon Gofberg who lives across the street from the family’s house in the southwest Florida town.
“They didn’t get any sleep last night.”
Sheldon Gofberg said neighbors had no idea that Barbara Knight was the mother of a missing girl and that she appeared to have her hands full looking after Katie and helping with Tom Hudson’s two children, Julian, 16, and his sister Alex, 8.
“They’re a friendly family, Tom would do anything to help you, give you the shirt off his back,” Sheldon Gofberg said.
Despite the turmoil, Tom Hudson kept a commitment with Sheldon Gofberg to take him to a Home Depot.
“We were in the car driving and Tom said, <<You know those three girls they found in the house in Cleveland? One of them was Barbara’s daughter>>. I was astounded,” Sheldon Gofberg said.
“I said, <<She’s got to be pretty emotional?>> and he said, <<Not really because we’ve been waiting to hear back from the FBI>>.”
The family had refused to talk to reporters and TV crews waiting outside their home, sending the teenage boy Julian, who was wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet, outside to ask them to leave.
After 10 years being held against their will, the three women – Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight – were finally freed after neighbor Charles Ramsey, heard screaming from the house and helped them escape through a door.
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