With approximately 48 million people of all ages, with hearing loss in the US alone, there is a good chance that someone close to you deals with this disability. It could be a family member, friend, co-worker or even your significant other.
People with hearing loss can often struggle in conversation, making it seem more appealing to opt out of social interactions. This can lead to depression, lack of self-esteem and social isolation.
These side effects of hearing loss can often progress to even more severe health consequences as hearing loss goes ignored, such as memory problems, lack of mobility and a greater risk of falls and hospitalizations.
It is important to understand the best ways to communicate with someone with hearing loss so they don’t miss important information and do not feel left out.
Being Open About Hearing Loss
Undiagnosed and untreated hearing loss has been linked to a rift in relationships as miscommunications pile up over time. However when people are open and proactive about admitting they have hearing loss, there are strategies which make communicating with someone you know has hearing loss much easier. Here are just a few tips that can make communication with the people in your life with hearing loss much more accessible.
As hearing declines over time people begin to rely on visual cues to supplement what cannot be heard. People will often learn to lip read and defer to facial expressions to help interpret people’s intents. As someone attempting to clearly communicate with someone makes sure that they can see you in order to ensure they can rely on visual cues.
Make sure the listener has your attention and maintains eye contact while you speak. Do not cover your mouth and avoid chewing gum as this could interrupt speech reading. In addition it is helpful to be in a well-lit location so they can see your face and body language.
One of the most common signs of hearing loss is the need to ask someone to repeat themselves. It may be tempting to yell or shout but this often distorts the sound and does not help. Speak clearly, enunciating and speaking slow and steady. If you notice that the listener is asking you to repeat yourself frequently, try rephrasing rather than repeating what you’ve said. Don’t get frustrated and give up as this compound depression or enforce the need to self-isolate.
Many times with hearing loss, comes the loss of ability to hear certain consonants or pitches making some words more out of reach than others. Find a different way to explain what you are trying to convey. It will also add additional context to your intent.
You may also want to streamline the way you communicate. Use simple phrases rather than complex sentences. The brain has to work overtime to decipher meaning from speech when receiving limited information due to hearing loss. If someone is still having trouble understanding what you are trying to say try asking which word they are struggling with. If they can’t understand it, try writing it out. When conversing with someone with hearing loss it may be
Trouble Hearing In Noisy Environments
Many people’s hearing loss manifests as trouble hearing in crowded or noisy spaces. A concert, a loud nightclub, a busy store or cafe may all pose extra challenges for people with hearing disabilities. Try avoiding louder spaces to meet and converse with people with hearing loss. If you can, try to quiet and turn down extraneous sounds. Turn down the radio, and wait to run noisy appliances till after the conversation.
Be an Advocate For Those With Hearing Loss
If someone you know is dealing with has a hearing loss, it is a signal of care to go out of your way to make sure they can still participate in social events and casual conversation. If you know someone who you believe has hearing loss that is untreated, suggest that they have their hearing checked.
While hearing loss is often permanent it can be treated with hearing aids and cochlear implants. However, of the majority of people who could benefit from hearing aids, only 30% of those, 70 and over, had ever used them. This number is even lower for those below 70 totaling 16%. Don’t let the people in your life who could benefit from hearing loss needlessly struggle. Encourage your loved ones to make an appointment to have their hearing checked today!