What People with Hearing Loss Wish You Knew

It is true that hearing loss is far more common than most people are likely to assume. But it is still the source of quite a bit of mystery to those who have not yet had direct experience with it. Hearing loss is, in fact, common enough that eventually everyone will know someone experiencing it, if they are lucky enough that they themselves do not end up going through it. So it is in the best interest of everyone to learn the basic facts about hearing loss so that you are prepared when you inevitably have to cope with it one way or another.

How Common Hearing Loss Actually Is

No one is immune to hearing loss and all sorts of common factors may lead to it. Certain industries pose a higher risk, as do certain recreational habits. And the risks increase over time as one’s exposure increases. 

So it is no surprise that almost 14% of the American population lives with some detectable degree of hearing loss. That percentage of the population increases steadily with age until more than half of everyone over the age of 75 lives with it.

How Serious Hearing Loss Actually Is

Treatment options are simple and widely available. And when one takes appropriate action to mitigate its effects, hearing loss is most often easily manageable. But sadly, studies show that less than one out of every five people with hearing loss actually seeks and maintains treatment. 

Left untreated, hearing loss will lead to emotional and psychological problems, destabilizing every aspect of your life and damaging your overall quality of life. This is why the intentional and disciplined maintenance of hearing health has to be normalized. 

Why Is It That Many People Fail to Recognize How Common and How Serious Hearing Loss Actually Is

Hearing loss is an invisible disability, meaning that you will not recognize from a distance that someone is having trouble hearing. And shockingly, hearing loss comes on so gradually over such an extended period that many people fail to recognize it even as they are beginning to experience it themselves. Their hearing declines so subtly over a matter of years, they commonly learn to adapt subconsciously. 

For example, most people who depend on reading lips do not even consciously know that they do so. Similarly, many of us constantly fill in words or phrases that we didn’t quite catch using context clues. This is how hearing loss fatigues people beginning to experience it, they are extending so much more energy to keep up than ever before. 

And given social norms in which we strive to accommodate others when communicating with them, many people with hearing loss either will deny it, hide it, or at least minimize its severity when dealing with others. 

How to Best Accommodate Someone With Hearing Loss

When you do inevitably find yourself communicating with someone with hearing loss, remember these simple tips to make it simpler for both of you. 


—Especially in a group, be sure to have the person’s attention. Be sure that everyone does not talk at once. 

—Cut background noise. No music. No TV. Silence the vents if possible. 

—In public, always position yourselves in the quietest nooks. 

—Face them directly when you speak to maximize the impact of lip reading.


—For those with hearing loss, communicating face to face is most often exhausting. Remember they are not being impolite and their frustration is understandable. 

—Be patient. They may need an extra second to catch what you’re saying.

—Be kind, otherwise they are likely to withdraw, finding it not worth the trouble. 

—Enunciate. Articulate.

Context Helps

—Offer synonyms. Repeat yourself in slightly rephrased manners.  

—Context helps assemble the puzzle. If they only catch the sound far, help them differentiate if you are talking about agriculture (farm) or distance (far). 

Take The Initiative to Form New Habits

These simple tips are all it takes to help you simplify and streamline your communication with someone with hearing loss. It is truly asking so little of you and imagining the impact these simple adjustments will make, deepening the trust and subtlety that is the foundation of every relationship, and helping someone else amplify their core quality of life.