Be a supportive friend, this International Friendship Day!

The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. The United Nations encourages governments, groups and organizations to host activities and events that promote dialogue, acceptance and understanding between people of different backgrounds.

While it is slowly disappearing, hearing-impaired people are still subjected to much prejudice and misunderstanding. “Old.” “Less intelligent.” “Mentally ill.” “They only hear what they want to hear.” These are some of the words that are still thrown around. People with hearing loss have to deal with adapting to life with hearing aids, and it can be even more difficult when negative stereotypes and stigmas get in the way.

Along with this stigma of hearing loss, many people also think that hearing aids are unsightly, uncomfortable and expensive, often resulting in many people having a hard time coming to terms with the idea of wearing hearing aids. They put off the decision and only do something about it when the problems associated with poor hearing simply become too much for them.

According to audiologist Dr. Douglas Chen, “the size of the social stigma is out of proportion compared to that of eyeglasses, canes, walkers and wheelchairs.”

The best way to tackle any issue, is to learn more about it! The more informed you are, the better equipped you’ll be to make any decision, or to support and accept people around you with hearing loss.

As people are getting educated on the condition, more people are becoming accepting and conscious of hearing loss. There has always been resistance of hearing aids, especially for someone who is getting a hearing aid for the first time.

Modern day hearing aids make it easier to hear with background noise, to hear in auditorium or lecture hall settings and to maintain their pre-hearing aids lifestyle to its fullest. Whether they enjoy going out to the theater or love hiking, hearing aids have settings and features that make this possible. Thanks to modern technology, people who need hearing devices have more options available to them, which eliminates the stigma for users.

Did you know that the International Day of Friendship is also based on the recognition of the relevance and importance of friendship as a noble and valuable sentiment in the lives of human beings around the world?

Often as a friend, we would be the first to realize that someone close to us are suffering from a hearing impairment. Loss of hearing interferes with a person’s ability to enjoy recreation, vacation, hobbies, and other pastimes, taking them out of the social scene.

If you suspect one of your friends is suffering from hearing loss, you can look for certain signs. You will probably notice changes in his/her social behavior, just as there will be a number of psychological effects. For example, the person may withdraw from his/her surroundings and feel shame, guilt and anger. The person may also become more self-critical and experience a low self-confidence.

Making the leap to go to a healthy hearing professional can be scary, but it is a decision that will improve a person’s quality of life. Be as helpful and supportive as possible! Remember that before you discuss the issue with the hearing-impaired person in question, keep in mind that he or she may not be aware of the problem and can be sensitive to the idea of hearing loss. Be a supportive and understanding friend, encourage them to visit a hearing care professional to get their hearing tested!