One of the biggest problems we face when hearing loss becomes an issue is the difficulty we have in our relationships with those closest to us. Partners, friends and co-workers may experience frustration just as much as we do as a result of our hearing loss.
While they will likely need to adopt some new methods of communication in order to facilitate conversation with us, there are also some things that we, as the hearing-impaired parties, can do to make communication go more smoothly.
It may start to happen naturally, but a bit of lip reading can go a long way. We always rely on body language and facial cues to help us understand one another, even when both parties have normal hearing, but it becomes especially important when we have hearing loss to get that extra information from a person’s face. If someone isn’t facing you while they speak, let them know you are hard of hearing and ask them to make sure that you can see their face while they talk.
Background noise makes understanding speech that much harder. Try to remove distracting noises from your home environment when you have company. If you’re meeting in public, ask to meet at a place that doesn’t play loud music, or at a time when it won’t be at its busiest. If you’re in a group conversation and someone begins to say something especially important, ask to move to a quieter space to have the conversation.
Whenever there’s a short break in the conversation, paraphrase what has been said and repeat information back to the other party to ensure that you’ve heard them correctly.
Don’t pretend to hear when you can’t! While it may be tempting to simply pretend that you’re hearing in order to let the conversation move forward, it’s pointless and can result in embarrassing or even devastating miscommunications. If you can’t hear a person well enough, change the situation so that you can understand them, or ask them to write down what they’re saying.
Be patient. Frustration is normal when communication is difficult, but if you can find a way to make communication possible, your social life doesn’t have to end just because you can’t hear as well as you used to.
Hearing Aids Can Help
Hearing aids are by far the best and most common treatment for hearing loss. The goal with hearing aids is to deliver more information to the brain, and that will not only make your communication easier with others, but keep your brain health in good shape going forward.
As we go through life leaving our hearing loss untreated, changes start to happen in the brain. Over time, the auditory cortex will actually atrophy, and when you do get hearing aids, you’ll still need some time to build it back up before you can understand speech. By getting hearing aids as soon as they’re recommended by an audiologist, you’ll be able to live your life uninterrupted by hearing loss.
The hearing aids of today are better than ever. They’re sleeker, smaller, and much more powerful than the hearing aids our parents wore. They can separate speech from background sound, allowing you to follow a conversation much more easily. They can employ directional microphones to make the sound in front of us much louder than ambient sound. They can even connect wirelessly to smartphones and other devices to stream phone calls and other media content, and even control programs and volume from an app. Some models even allow you to take a hearing test and have your fitment adjusted remotely, right through the app.
The toll that hearing loss takes on our relationships is well-documented. Study after study confirms that hearing loss becomes a frustrating stressor in partnerships, marriages, friendships and workplaces. We all need to do our part to make sure that we can overcome hearing loss to maintain healthy social relationships, which are a major part of living a long, healthy life. While it’s important for the people in your life to do their part to facilitate communication, getting a good set of hearing aids is the best way to make the whole project much, much easier!
If you or a loved one is dealing with untreated hearing loss, make an appointment for a hearing test today and find out what hearing aids can do to improve your communication, your relationship, and your life!