Surviving the Stress of Hearing Loss: What You Can Do

June 2011

I looked forward to attending the interactive workshop led by Ellen Rupert and Donna Wayner, PhD. Ellen is a self-employed training consultant and Donna is an audiologist and president & CEO of Hear Again, Inc.

Those of us who contend with hearing loss are well aware of the daily stress that goes with it. This workshop was intended for individuals who are hearing impaired and their spouses or family members, to help them identify individual stressors and then develop a personal action plan.

Donna Wayner gave us a brief overview of stress and emphasized that being and staying connected was vital. When our hearing is altered it can result in isolation and withdrawal and it will impact our behavior, emotions and relationships.

We understand we have extra stress dealing with communication issues so what can we do different? To start, we were asked to write down our sources of stress and three things we were already doing to relieve stress. Then we broke up into groups. Family members with no hearing loss were in one large group and those of us with hearing loss in several smaller groups.

The different groups brainstormed strategies to reduce stress by comparing notes and listing three things that relieve stress. From this we developed our personal action plan to manage stress. Our group agreed that quiet time, exercising and taking advantage of captioning were good stress busters.

Ellen and Donna brought all the groups back together to review action plans to help us cope for effectively. The groups with hearing loss shared first:

– Advocate for yourself
– Write, blog, etc.
– Join hearing loss support groups
– Enjoy a massage
– Meditate often
– Get involved in a hobby
– Spend time with pets and go for a walk

The folks with no hearing loss came up with a similar list but they also included these:

– Exchange ideas about communication strategies
– Name frustrating things, release it and move on
– Remember good times

And my personal favorite which is a technique we practice at home: Whoever asks the question in the house goes to the other person!

We wrapped up with a short relaxation exercise focusing on our breathing and doing progressive muscle relaxation.


(c) Copyright 2011 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030;; 703-352-9055 V, 703-352-9056 TTY, 703-352-9058 Fax. You do not need permission to share this information, but please be sure to credit NVRC.