Losing one’s hearing can, as with any sense, be a significant source of stress and grief. That’s understandable — you’re losing one of the most common ways by which people connect with one another and experience the world around them. Per the National Library of Medicine, there are multiple studies to suggest a link between hearing loss and mental illness.
Hearing impairment can, like any disability, disconnect you from your friends and loved ones if you let it. But it doesn’t have to. By channeling yourself into the right hobby or pastime, you can not only form a new social circle of people who understand what you’re going through but also find both happiness and fulfillment.
With that said, here are five of the best hobbies to help you cope with hearing loss.
Most people in the Hard of Hearing (HoH) community have at least one story of exclusion. Perhaps it was a loved one’s school play, a local theater production, or a keynote at a conference. Oftentimes with smaller productions, there’s not enough budget available to hire a sign language interpreter — and many larger events and venues do not see the need.
You could volunteer your services here, giving back to the community and normalizing the use of interpreters for venues of all sizes. More importantly, you could help the world be far less exclusionary. Most people who haven’t experienced hearing loss aren’t malicious but simply lack knowledge.
Even so, they can do more harm than good. If you asked for a hammer and someone handed you an apple, it would be both frustrating and unhelpful. That’s effectively what many people who aren’t HoH do when they attempt to help.
You can do your part in helping to change that.
You don’t need sound to experience and enjoy a video game. And if you decide to immerse yourself in a massively-multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) like World of Warcraft (WoW), you might be happy to know that there are plenty of guilds created for and maintained by HoH individuals.
For example, one WoW guild, per gaming publication WowHead, recently cleared a major raid without voice communication. Raids are challenges that typically require a large group of highly-coordinated players to overcome. The guild itself, known as Undaunted was created specifically with hearing-impaired players in mind.
Of course, you don’t need to spring for a traditional game, either. There are plenty of mobile puzzle games for you to cut your teeth on, most of which are free to play. In short, there’s something for everyone out there, no matter their skill level.
Birds are among the most rehomed pets worldwide, often due to the shrieking and noise. Most avian species are also skittish and shy by nature. In that, they’ve something in common with adults who’ve lost their hearing later in life.
A rescue bird, then, could be a perfect choice for you. And if you don’t have the time for such a commitment, many local animal shelters would love to hire you on as a volunteer dog walker or caregiver, especially for louder, more rambunctious puppies. Many of these animals require a calm, quiet environment to thrive and be re-socialized for adoption, and that’s precisely what you provide.
The best part of gardening is that you don’t need to hear in order to enjoy the hobby. Plants communicate visually, allowing those of us who appreciate solitude to forge a connection with nature, guiding and shaping the creation of a living thing. Whether you’re working to maintain impeccable hedges, put down some wildflowers, or grow your own vegetables, gardening is a hobby anyone can enjoy and take pride in.
Helping New HoH People Adjust
Many people who are hearing-impaired have lived with the impairment for most of their life, having been born with it or developed it in their early childhood. There is, however, a growing population of individuals who lose their hearing later in life. This can be difficult to adapt to, both for the HoH person and their family.
And that’s without a global pandemic.
Reaching out to others experiencing the same feelings as you can be both gratifying and therapeutic. You can give overwhelmed parents advice on what to purchase by providing an actual HoH perspective on the matter. While everyone should do their part to make the world more inclusive and accessible, you can help educate people on what’s actually required rather than allowing people who’ve never experienced hearing impairment to make a series of wild guesses.
Alternatively, you can simply enjoy the company of others who are going through what you’re experiencing, taking comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone.
Hearing impairment isn’t some terrible specter that’s impossible to cope with. You can and will get through this. Finding the right hobby is a good first step, and can act as a springboard into further healing.
About the Author:
Pauline Dinnauer is the VP of Audiological Care at Connect Hearing, which provides industry-leading hearing loss, hearing testing, and hearing aid consultation across the US.