There is an emotional side to deafness and hearing loss and it is not uncommon that deaf and partially deaf people including many Veterans who struggle with feelings of isolation or loneliness. In a recent survey, it was identified that many have experienced isolation because of their deafness or inability to hear clearly, loneliness and in the main, most have experienced both.
Although not completely clear, there are several possible reasons such as some people may find it difficult to keep up with a conversation because of their deafness. They also find that others avoid trying to communicate with them or leave them out of a conversation deliberately or otherwise. There are those who lose confidence resulting in them withdrawing from social situations and dis-association with their communities, friends, and families. In all this can result in feelings of loneliness and isolation; something that can be very easily overlooked.
Unlike our eyesight failing, which we can correct with optical devices such as glasses and, of course, is visual to most unless contact lenses are in place, deafness is not always obvious and even more so, for those partially deaf such as ex-members of the military, it is hidden from view. With the advancement in technology, hearing aids such as those made by GN Resound, Phonak and Widex, they are so much smaller than the clunky earpieces of old and often cannot be seen.
Technology may resolve some or all of the hearing problems however, it cannot take away that feeling of isolation or loneliness. There are several organizations such as Hearing Dogs for the Deaf who can help alleviate this problem with their hearing and partial hearing dogs becoming a member of the family. These dogs are specially trained as pets as well as being trained in responding to sounds and dangers that may befall someone with a hearing defect. Furthermore, having a furry friend as a companion helps reconnect with life and even more importantly, Veterans who suffer from PTSD and hearing loss, benefit from having that ever-important friend with them to help take away the stress. In addition, with the hearing dogs wearing their unique uniform, it is easier for people to identify that an individual is deaf and takes away the embarrassment of having to explain or apologizing to others because of hearing loss issues.
So please remember “a puppy is not just for Christmas, they can be there as companions for those in isolation and loneliness due to a hearing problem and help them achieve a better standard of life”.