Many of us can be poorly informed when it comes to hearing loss. This could be because there is a lot of stigma about hearing loss which keeps us from learning more about the condition. But maybe we should be sensitive to how it affects those who have it. After all, it is the third most common health condition in the United States, more common than diabetes or cancer. This means that you probably already know someone with hearing loss.
Hearing problems are remarkably difficult to detect in an individual at first glance. It would be difficult, for example, to identify an individual who is hard of hearing in a crowd. Because the condition is so invisible, it can be tricky to accommodate those with hearing loss.
To help understand the condition better, here are some of the things those with hearing loss wish you knew.
“I am not stupid or rude.”
If a person who has a hearing impairment reacts in the wrong way to a joke or doesn’t react to an “excuse me” whispered to them in the food store, then they are not unintelligent or rude. They most likely misunderstood what you said or just didn’t hear your comment.
“Hearing is hard work.”
When you live with hearing loss, it requires serious effort. People with ordinary hearing may not realize this because for them, hearing is automatic. Whether they are in a meeting at work or out with friends at the restaurant, it requires a lot more energy for those with hearing loss to understand others.
They must instead make additional efforts to make sense of distorted sounds or words in a conversation, maintain the thread of the discussion, and figure out appropriate ways of responding. This can be mentally and physically exhausting, and the person with hearing loss often leaves social occasions without any energy for the rest of the day.
“Louder is not always better.”
Clarity is not always provided by volume. The louder someone might talk, the more the words can get distorted. Try to speak clearly and get their attention physically before you talk. Refrain from talking and then walking away. You could also try to paraphrase your words if the person with hearing loss still can’t understand you.
“Hearing aids don’t work like glasses.”
Glasses turn fuzzy pictures into something clear and crisp that corrects your vision. Although they help immensely, the use of hearing aids does not equal getting your ordinary hearing back. Listening helps amplify sounds but doesn’t always make them clearer. Although the technology is improving all the time, some hearing aids cannot distinguish between the voice of the speaker and the background hum. This can sometimes make it hard to focus on conversations in these situations.
“I still have a voice.”
One of the most difficult things to deal with for an individual during the process of losing their hearing is the loss of independence. A person with compromised hearing will still want to be heard and express their needs and opinions. Try to keep these needs in mind when out in public places like restaurants. Although your heart may be in the right place, you don’t always need to order for your friend or family member with hearing loss. Instead, ask them to check what they didn’t understand, and help guide them towards ordering for themselves.
“Please don’t give up on the conversation.”
Conversations with someone with hearing loss can sometimes be frustratingly slow. But imagine having to live with the issue whoever you speak to. It’s good to have patience with a communication partner with a hearing loss and refrain from the trap of simply dismissing the conversation to make things easier.
What you can do
Are you close to someone with hearing loss? Now you know the thoughts they have about hearing loss, here is quick recap of how to make their lives easier.
- Reduce background noise
- Get their attention before you speak
- Face them when talking
- Don’t cover your mouth or eat when talking
- Talk slowly and clearly, not loudly
- Ask them if they have understood, and let them talk for themselves
If you or someone close to you senses changes in hearing, it’s time for a hearing test. We offer complete listening care here at Dr. Hear. Our team works with you to find the best treatments to meet your hearing requirements. To learn more, contact us today!