When you meet someone with hearing loss, you probably don’t notice right away, especially if they choose not to tell you. Partly because of its ‘invisible’ nature, hearing loss is often misunderstood, and people might assume that it’s not a struggle to live with this condition, especially if a person wears hearing aids. But this is not the case. Communication can still be challenging at times–even with the help of hearing devices. If you have a friend or loved one with hearing loss and want to understand more about the impact it has on their daily life, take a look at this list of things people with hearing loss wish others knew.
- The effort of listening can be exhausting.
If you have hearing loss, listening requires constant effort. Hearing aids can greatly reduce that effort, but extended listening–especially when multiple people are talking–can still be an exhausting task. Trying to deal with the lack of clarity in speech, as well as sensitivity to background noise (often simultaneously), is like speaking to someone in a crowded room in a foreign language. It is often necessary to listen for keywords and try to guess the sentence, or try to turn partial, incomplete sounds into words that fit into the conversation. Imagine doing this throughout a long, busy workday, or at a noisy dinner party. The task of listening becomes even more tiring due to the fact that the conversation keeps going without a pause while the hard of hearing person is doing the extra work of figuring out what has just been said.
- People with hearing loss are not ignoring you.
If your hard of hearing companion doesn’t respond to your question or the bit of gossip you just shared, remember that they’re not intentionally ignoring you. Often, hard of hearing people rely on seeing people’s faces as they talk, so when a friend, family member or a clerk at the grocery store turns away while speaking, it can be easy to miss what has just been said. Never assume that a person with hearing loss is being rude or isn’t intelligent enough to understand–they probably just need you to repeat yourself.
- Hearing aids don’t restore perfect hearing.
While glasses are able to transform a blurry vision of the world into a perfectly clear one, hearing aids don’t work the same way. There is no doubt that hearing devices make hearing significantly easier, but they don’t restore perfect hearing to those who suffer from hearing loss. Sounds and speech are amplified, but are not always clearer, especially when a conversation is taking place in a noisy area.
- Never presume you need to speak for someone with hearing loss.
When you are out and about with your hard of hearing friend or loved one, there may come a time when you’re tempted to answer a question on their behalf. However, it would be inappropriate to do so. (Just imagine how you would feel if someone started speaking for you!) Instead, ask the other person to repeat their question more clearly, or repeat the question yourself so that your friend with hearing loss has a chance to respond on their own.
- A few simple communication strategies can make a big difference.
Even with the help of hearing aids, it can difficult for people with hearing loss to understand speech in certain situations, such as when multiple people are talking at once, or when their communication partner is mumbling or facing away from them. With this in mind, there are a few things you can do to make conversation easier for your hard of hearing friends and loved ones.
-Make sure your face stays in full view while you are speaking.
-Speak clearly at an even pace. Avoid mumbling, talking too slowly or quickly, or shouting.
-If your conversation partner doesn’t understand you the first time, try rephrasing your words rather than repeating yourself.
-Make sure to have your friend’s attention before speaking. A simple tap on the shoulder works.
-Avoid starting a conversation from another room.
By using these easy conversation tips, being patient and taking care to speak clearly, you can give the hard of hearing people in your life the support they need.
Questions about hearing loss? Contact Active Hearing & Audiology.
If you or a loved one are struggling with hearing loss and would like to learn more about the benefits of hearing aids, book a free consultation with us today. We would be happy to assess your hearing needs, answer your questions, and talk about the best hearing aids for your budget and lifestyle.