Meandering Through A Hearing World
Scientists are studying the emotional wellbeing of those with hearing loss for good reason. It is possible to lose the ability to hear the underlying emotional meaning of sounds. This may sound odd, because if you hear normally, you automatically pick up the emotional aspect of sound. Think of your favorite song. Do the words and melody make you feel happy, sad, or bring on a sense of longing? Does the voice of your child, spouse, or significant other bring on feelings of comfort and love? Most with hearing loss miss the lilt in the voice of someone who is happy or the drag in the voice of someone who is sad. If hearing loss is severe or profound, you may not recognize the meaning behind a shout or a whisper.
Hearing plays a very important role in our lives. It allows us to be socially engaged, to conduct business, and to enjoy music, television, and a great concert. People who hear normally recognize the meaning of pitch and tone and the meaning that comes with the spoken word.
An inability to detect emotion in speech leads to difficulties with interpersonal relationships. It becomes easy to misinterpret what family members, friends, or colleagues say, thus leading to misunderstandings and disagreements. This has happened between my husband and me many times. Since I piece together what I do hear into something that makes sense, I sometimes miss what he is really trying to tell me. Worse, my husband has told me that he has given up trying to be romantic with me. He says that shouting, I love you, louder than Romeo would ever tolerate, does not bring on loving feelings. I can’t blame him.
In order to help those who no longer recognize emotional intonations, hearing professionals are viewing their patients holistically. We understand the importance of treating hearing loss, but slapping in hearing aids or undergoing surgery for a cochlear implant is just the beginning. Wearers of aids and implants have to restore their hearing by training themselves to hear properly. This takes time. Those receiving new hearing aids can take three months to adjust to sounds. The rehabilitation period after cochlear implantation is usually six months.
I recently purchased new hearing aids with artificial intelligence in January, and I’m still adjusting. I use my iPhone and iPad to listen to music, podcasts, movies, and books on tape. My audiologist believes that it is necessary to wear one’s aids for as long a period as possible each day and to listen to anything and everything that you can. He tells me that listening to wide variety of sounds helps me to learn to distinguish the nuances in sound. Daily, I try to improve my hearing and listening skills.
Everyone agrees that untreated hearing loss can lead to depression and isolation, but there is another aspect of the impact of hearing loss that we should pay attention to, our emotional lives. Always consider treating hearing loss. Wear your aids and implants for as long as you can each day. Listen to a variety of sounds, including music. Let the words and notes wash over you, try to feel as you listen. While meandering through the hearing world, work at hearing and practice listening. You might discover new meaning in the world of sound.