Why do people get weaker

When vision and hearing become weaker

See and hear little at the same time? More and more people, especially those of retirement age, are seeing and hearing impaired. A life with hearing impairment is a challenge for the people affected as well as for those around them.

When Beat M. steps out of the house in the morning, he looks like a thousand other people who go to work every day. He single-mindedly marches towards the bus stop, gets in and drives to his office, fetches the mail, turns on his computer.

But Beat M. is deafblind, he has that Usher Syndrome. Deaf from birth, he only has a small visual remnant, his field of vision is restricted in the shape of a tube. He finds his way to the bus with the help of the guide dog Orion. He does not hear the bus stop at which he has to get off through the announcement. But he knows how long he has to wait to get out. In the office he scans all documents and uses digital tools to enlarge and contrast the font so that he can see something. Beat M. has adjusted to a life with deaf blindness.

Special features of the hearing impairment

Of deaf blindness and Hearing impairment is spoken when a person is visually and hearing impaired at the same time. Some people are deaf and blind, others still have usable hearing or visual potential. But the combination of both makes life for deaf-blind and hearing-impaired people usually particularly difficult. In their everyday life they have to struggle with serious consequences because they cannot simply compensate for one sense loss with the other sense. Hence one must have hearing impairment as one independent form of disability consider.

Difficulties in orientation are typical for deafblindness and hearing impairment, for example: Where is the exit? How far is it to the end of the pedestrian strip? A second problem is interpersonal communication. Last but not least, one of the difficulties faced by the visually impaired is access to information. Often those affected do not know what is happening in the immediate or wider environment. Why didn't the cousin say hello at the last meeting? Does she have a problem with me? Maybe she wasn't there or I just didn't see or hear her?

Social contacts, with relatives, but also with neighbors, are very important for people with hearing impairments (Photo: Sergiu Vălenaș / unsplash).

Mobility and communication

A major hurdle arises in relation to mobility and communication. The farmer Franz H. only gradually noticed that vision and hearing were deteriorating. He had always been hard of hearing, and the older he got, the faded the contrasts and the colors faded. At lunch he only saw half of it when his family was arguing. On the way to the stable he stumbled more and more over watering cans, brooms, or whatever was in the way. He was already retired when he had to learn a lot of new things - for example, how to use a PC with tools.

A big issue in old age

Very few people who are affected by deafblindness acquire it at birth. Rather, deafblindness in most cases develops with age. Hearing visual impairment is in most cases a process that begins at some point - and this deterioration in vision and hearing is often progressive, and therefore requires people to make new adjustments over and over again. These adaptations need strength.

Elisabeth K. also belongs to the group of elderly people with hearing impairments. The 90-year-old was active, danced and loved music all her life. Now she can hardly see anything and only reacts when she has switched on her hearing aid. Her daughter visits her almost every day. She notes that the hospitals are badly geared towards elderly people with hearing impairment: "If you just put a glass of water in front of her, she'll stay thirsty because she just can't see it anymore," she says. White plates on white tablecloths are also a problem.

How do hearing impaired people communicate?

Hearing impaired people use numerous strategies to be able to communicate with their fellow human beings. For those affected, the use of the residual hearing plays a central role. Optimal supply of aids for the eye and the ear enable the use of the remaining senses, so that one can communicate in the usual form of communication for as long as possible. If that is no longer sufficient, additional communication techniques are learned.

Even so, difficulties remain. Group conversations are almost impossible for the hearing impaired, and the frequent ambient noise does the rest. The most important thing is therefore the setting of the conversation. A quiet environment, a small group conversation, and clear rules such as speaking slowly and clearly. Ultimately, the needs of the visually impaired are very individual and it is best to find out how best to speak to them.

Hearing visual impairment is becoming more and more common in a society, also due to the fact that more people are getting older. However, if a hearing and visual impairment is recognized as such, the environment as well as the institutions and offers of disability assistance can cater to the special needs of the people concerned. This is the only way to counteract the danger of social withdrawal to which people with hearing impairment are particularly exposed.

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