Coping with sensory loss isn’t easy. Those who can talk to a peer for support have more success dealing with feelings of isolation and loneliness, as well as other fallout from their loss. Peers dealing with the same issues can provide help, advice, and share common experiences.
While mechanisms such as talk therapy, support groups, and others have been around for some time, little research has been dedicated to discovering the long term benefits of peer support from the peer’s point of view.
Two studies were conducted that canvased the feedback of ordinary people and their partners or other support peers living with sensory loss. They were asked, “What advice would you give to other couples who are living with sensory loss?”
In the first study, people between ages 50 and 85, revealed some keen advice for people who find themselves in similar situations. They talked about how vital seeking support from peer organizations is, as well as gaining support from partners and healthcare professionals. Patient-led groups were at the top of the list for the kind of support participants suggested people seek. They highlighted key traits partners should have to support their loved ones adequately: honesty, patience, understanding, unity, acceptance, respect, compassion, positivity, and respect for independence.
The second study consisted of participants in a younger age category, but the results were similar. They focused on the importance of being compassionate, mutually supportive, patience, and understanding. Here are some quotes from the study:
“Talk to each about the difficulties; not only big issues but also the little frustrations in everyday life… Comfort and support each other when you face frustrations related to the sensory loss.”
– hard-of-hearing partner
“If you can, try to laugh about any mishaps – my partner laughs and lovingly calls me ‘silly lady’ whenever I keep bumping into things (that I don’t see) or misunderstand stuff he said. That takes the edge off and lets me laugh as well. Be intimate.”
– deafblind partner
Feeling supported was linked to showing understanding, patience, and acceptance. Thus, similar to the first study, these were also recommended by the participants of the second study:
“Find out what works best for you. Not everyone adapts the same. Be patient and tolerant of the partner’s frustration when simple ideas become obstacles because of misunderstandings.”
– deafblind partner
While participants highly encouraged the support of peers, they did not forget to emphasize the qualities of professional help as well. Many participants mentioned the benefits of counseling, online groups, healthcare professionals, rehabilitation specialists, and technical experts. In this way, peers and professionals can work together to provide a comprehensive network of support for those who are adjusting to or maintaining a full life living with hearing loss.
If you or a loved one is dealing with hearing loss, there are plenty of support waiting for you. Whether you need professional help or the friendship of a peer, reach out to one of our professionals today. We can help you find the support you need.