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When a person is dealing with hearing loss, they are using everything they have to stay engaged in conversation. Even if they are wearing hearing aids and can lip read, they are working more than those with regular hearing to keep up and stay engaged. Let’s stay informed and include some strategies for dealing with the challenges that come with hearing loss. The following are some things they would like us to know to facilitate communication.
Not obvious at first
Wearing hearing aids is not like wearing glasses. Hearing aids have long been fashioned to be discreet and camouflage its self as part of the ear. The stigma it carries, though slowly changing, is often why the hearing impaired don’t announce their condition. People with hearing loss often have to disclose their condition which can be uncomfortable and overwhelming. Wearing hearing aids also doesn’t necessarily lessen their exertion when keeping up with social interactions.
Facing the right direction
The is a simple technique that will get everyone involved in the correct positions to communicate more fluently. Remember the person that has the hearing loss needs to factor in your facial expressions, body language and lip movement to put together the context of a shared conversation. Face them before speaking. Do not speak with your back turned or call out from a different room. If you know that they have one side in which their hearing ability is greater, try and position yourself on that side.
Volume does not equal clarity
Speaking loudly is not always going to help. If they are experiencing sounds that are distorted to begin with it only follows that if you yell, they will hear those same distorted sounds at a higher volume. Speaking each word s-l-o-w-l-y will also distort words.
What will help is if you speak clearly, and add a slight longer pause in between your words.
Get their attention first
Say the person’s name and make sure they are engaged with you before you start speaking. If they are occupied with something else get their attention first and make sure they are facing you. A slight tap on the shoulder will work.
Keep it simple
When you do speak keep in mind that simple sentences are more effective, and do not to forget keep an even pace of speech. Check back with them to make sure they have understood before you jump to another topic, especially when you are in a conversation involving more than one person.
Location is everything
If you are in a loud environment, try to find a quieter spot. The person with hearing impairment might be struggling to keep up because of their difficulty in deciphering speech from background noise.
Speak for yourself
If you are not receiving a response or the answers are unexpected or incorrect, chances are good that you just haven’t been heard. It is not a case of bad manners. Don’t feel that you need to speak on the behalf of the person with hearing decline. Patience is what is needed.
If the person hasn’t understood what you said after several repetitions then please paraphrase. It is futile to repeat sounds at a greater volume that are already muffled or distorted to them. For example, if “Would you like some ice-cream after lunch?” doesn’t work, try “Ready for dessert?”
Write down specifics when making plans or giving directions. Many sounds and words for the hearing impaired can be confusing and mistakes can be eliminated if you send a follow up email or text message to confirm.
Hearing loss can be exhausting
Last but not least, people with hearing loss may experience fatigue when attempting to keep up communication. The constant strain from using everything in their arsenal to stay engaged and social can be overwhelming. Practicing patience is necessary.
Elevate Audiology is here to encourage you on your path to better hearing. When you are ready, we encourage you to call us for an appointment. If you or someone you care about experiences difficulties with hearing loss, we look forward to helping you take control and improve your hearing health. If there are any questions or queries regarding an assessment of your hearing please feel free to reach out. We feel your hearing health and experience are integral to a fuller richer life for you and your loved ones.