People who start to lose their hearing know that it can have a big impact on life, but they may not have expected the way it can affect their emotions. They might feel helpless or depressed, and get angry or frustrated. The same is true for parents of a child who has hearing loss. All are normal reactions. But here are some ways to face those feelings and get through this tricky transition.
Don’t Hide Your Feelings
More than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents, so the news that your child is hearing-impaired can come as a shock. It’s normal to cycle through many different feelings, from denial that there’s anything wrong with your child to sadness or even guilt.
Hearing loss is more common later in life. One in 3 people over age 65 have a problem with their hearing. The emotions that come at this stage may be different, but no less upsetting.
“Hearing loss is a loss like any other in our lives,” says Angela Nelson, a doctor of audiology in Burbank, CA. “It’s a death of part of an individual, [and you have] to move through the grief process.”
To do that, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family for help. You might also want to talk about your feelings with a therapist. “A good support system is essential,” says Aaron Moberly, MD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Adults who end up using a hearing aid or getting a cochlear implant need lots of social time so they can learn to hear again through their device, Moberly says. And for hearing-impaired children to learn good language and communication skills, it’s important for family members to be involved with their care.
If your child is old enough to talk about his feelings, make sure you give him time to do so and are ready to listen. “Understandably, a lot of parents are so in their own grief that it ... seems to be center stage in place of their child’s grief and fears,” Nelson says.