Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

Robert Weissman, Au.D., B.C.A., CCC-ACommunication, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Tips & Tricks

Robert Weissman, Au.D., B.C.A., CCC-A

Hearing loss can disrupt the flow of communication, causing frustration and strain on relationships. In addition, hearing loss can increase the risk of mental and physical health problems, including depression, dementia, heart attacks, falls, and anxiety. Some studies link higher health care costs for patients with significant hearing loss. A lack of communication between physicians and patients might cause this discrepancy. If a patient mishears instructions and warnings, he cannot properly follow them. Individuals with hearing loss also experience higher stress levels. They must concentrate intently on conversations, which causes stress, tension, and both physical and mental exhaustion. Often people with hearing loss slowly begin to isolate themselves to avoid the exertion required to follow conversations in group settings. They lose the ability to multi-task as they use all of their concentration to listen. They can become disoriented.

Speech Recognition Challenges

People with hearing loss encounter challenges in recognizing speech patterns, sounds, and words. They lose the ability to follow conversations involving more than two people. Having to swing their concentration from one person to the next in an unpredictable pattern proves difficult. They find it hard to distinguish voices from other background noises, such as conversations, music, or ambient noise. It becomes tricky to judge how loud or quiet they are speaking.

Sounds and letters begin to sound alike and become hard to distinguish. The similar-sounding letters depend on the person and the frequencies they cannot hear. As time goes on, a hearing-impaired person’s brain begins to rewire. It adjusts to being unable to hear, furthermore words lose their crispness. As this happens, their speech might be affected.

Communication Tips for People with Hearing Loss

If you discover you have hearing loss, you should start adapting the way you communicate with people. Start by letting people know you are hard of hearing. Once they know, they will be less likely to be frustrated if asked to repeat a phrase. The people closest to you will probably recognize that you have some hearing loss, but you can suggest that they get your attention before speaking to you. Whenever possible, face people as they are speaking. This way, you can read their lips, expressions, and body language. Eliminate other noises. Pause the TV, mute the radio, or go to a quiet room. Remember that you will likely hear less accurately when you are tired or sick. Be aware of these limitations and pay extra attention.

Tips for Communicating with People with Hearing Loss

Most likely, if you don’t have hearing loss, you know someone who does. To aid in communicating with them, make sure you always speak to them while you are in the same room and make sure you have their full attention. Speak clearly without shouting or exaggerating your mouth movements. Try to use shorter, less complex sentences and speak slowly. Take time to pause between sentences or thoughts to allow them time to ask questions. Your mouth should be in their view at all times. Don’t put your hands by your mouth, smoke, or chew while talking with them. If they request that you repeat a question or statement, rephrase it instead. They might have difficulty understanding a specific word. If you need to change the subject, announce that you are doing so to allow them to follow the conversation.

Scheduling a Hearing Test

Many people have undiagnosed and untreated hearing loss. They choose not to have it checked for a variety of reasons, but hearing is imperative to your overall health. More and more doctors realize the link between an individual’s hearing loss and an increase in mental health concerns. To protect your health, you should routinely have your hearing checked by a professional. In addition to routine checks, schedule an appointment if you notice the following signs:

  • You have problems understanding people.
  • You often ask people to repeat questions or phrases.
  • You notice ringing in your ears.
  • Women and children’s voices don’t register.
  • You find yourself exhausted after carrying on conversations.
  • Telephone conversations are hard to understand.
  • A loved one mentions that you might have hearing loss.

To see if you are a candidate for hearing aids or other help, you need to schedule an appointment with an audiologist.