Tips for Communicating if You Have Hearing Loss

Tips for Communicating if You Have Hearing Loss

In Hearing Health by Specialty Physician AssociatesLeave a Comment

Hearing loss can create unique communication challenges. Nearly 1 in 5 people have some degree of hearing loss, a medical condition that reduces one’s capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound.  This can make it tough to engage in conversations and social activities. Fortunately, there are effective ways that hearing loss is treated. Hearing aids are a common hearing solution and these electronic devices provide ample support. In addition to treating hearing loss and wearing hearing aids, there are several strategies you can practice to support your hearing and communication. 

  • Maximize use of hearing aids. Hearing aids are essential items for people with hearing loss. It is important to wear your hearing aids during waking hours. There are also ways you can maximize their use including exploring the many features they offer. Today’s hearing aids are more innovative than ever before. There is a range of technologies they are equipped with which increase connectivity possibilities and deliver enhanced sound quality which helps making hearing as seamless as possible. Features include wireless connectivity, voice recognition, digital noise reduction, and tinnitus management features. These features provide even more support, making it easier to hear in environments that can be tougher to hear in – social settings, noisy restaurants, parties etc. Be sure to discuss these options with your hearing healthcare provider who can help you identify the features that are optimal for your hearing and lifestyle needs. 
  • Share communication strategies. After adjusting to your hearing aids, you will become an expert on your hearing needs. This includes knowing the different ways your hearing and communication can best be supported during conversations. 
  • Grab your attention before starting a conversation which gives you time to prepare. Simple ways others can do this include tapping you on the shoulder or calling your name. 
  • Facing you while speaking and maintaining visibility throughout the conversation. 
  • Speaking in a natural voice, pausing between sentences. 
  • Rephrasing rather than repeating when you haven’t heard something. 
  • Sending detailed information via text or email. 
  • Checking-in throughout the conversation to see if anything can be clarified. 

It is important to share these strategies with others so that they can actively participate in making conversations more accessible. Remember that effective communication is a shared responsibility!

  • Reduce background noise. Background noise makes it harder to hear for anyone and can be especially tough for people with hearing loss. When there is additional noise, the brain has to work harder to filter through this noise to detect and process the speech and sound you want to hear. This creates more work for the brain which is already expanding extra resources and energy in trying to hear. Cognitive overload can contribute to fatigue and also hearing challenges. So reducing background noise is a useful way to support easeful conversation. There are many ways you can do this including: reducing or powering off any music or TV playing in the background, avoiding noisy settings like restaurants – especially during peak hours, putting phones on silent, driving with the windows rolled up etc. 
  • Avoid multitasking. Another useful strategy to support communication is to avoid multitasking and ask others to do the same. Though doing things like running errands, cleaning, cooking etc. are common to do while having a conversation (in person or on the phone); these activities can really prevent effective and useful communication. Multitasking can produce additional background noise, making it harder to hear. It can also be distracting and prevent people from being fully present and engaged. It is important to avoid multitasking as much as possible. 
  • Plan ahead. It is important to prioritize your hearing and communication needs. A great way to do this is to plan ahead for your hearing health. This includes thinking about the types of environment you will be in and what you need to best hear and engage with others in those settings. 
  • Advocate for hearing needs. Another part of prioritizing your hearing health is advocating for your hearing needs. This looks like asking others to clarify when you haven’t heard something, sharing communication strategies, not pretending to hear just to get through a conversation, avoiding places with loud noise or poor lighting etc. 

Practicing these strategies can help you navigate communication with greater ease. Contact us today to learn more about the technologies and resources that are available to support you!

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