So someone in your family has a hearing loss? Here are some tips to help with the communication breakdowns that are bound to happen.
Last week’s blog post was dedicated to the topic of issues people with hearing loss have in effectively communication. Because communication is a two-way street, it is important for those that are communicating with people with hearing loss know some important strategies to help alleviate those pesky communication breakdowns.
Here are some helpful tips to help you have better communication with your family member!
- Do they already have a hearing aid? IF so…Please don’t shout at them! Talking much louder will not help them understand you better when they have a hearing aid on. In fact you may sound too loud and distorted, just speak clearly and at a comfortable level.
- When talking with your family member, do your best to slow down your rate of speech.
- – For example: “Doyawannagoouttoeat?” versus “Do you want to go out to eat?”
- Remember that they will have an easier time understanding what you say if you look at them and they can clearly see your face.
- – Face them, make sure the room lighting is good.
- Visual speech cues are important for people with hearing loss, so do not block the view of your mouth.
- – Sometimes resting a hand near your mouth, chewing gum or even facial hair can make speech reading more difficult.
- If you are asked to repeat yourself (and you probably will be asked), don’t get frustrated and say it louder—instead try to rephrase or say it differently.
- – Often rephrasing instead of simply repeated gets the message across
- Try to minimize the distance between you and your family member; don’t try to have a conversation from another room or across the room.
- Remember that hearing aids should help your family member with their hearing loss, but will NOT restore it back to normal; they may still have some difficulty understanding you
- Do your best to minimize distractions when you are trying to have a conversation with your family member
- – Some examples: turn down the TV, turn off the sink, roll up the windows in the car, sit by a wall or in a booth at a restaurant
- Try not to change the topic of conversation suddenly; it will be easier for your family member to follow along if the topic is clear and consistent.
- Have patience, it is going to take time for both you and your family member to adjust to hearing loss and/or hearing aids.
Difficulty hearing in noisy situations is one of the most common complaints of people with hearing loss. In some cases, people with hearing loss will get a hearing aid and this difficulty is alleviated to some degree. Other times however, the hearing loss is not enough to a need for hearing aids or the difficulty hearing is background noise persists even with hearing aids. In these cases, it is very helpful to use some communication strategies to help hear better when in noisy situations.
Here are some listening strategies to help in situations where we are not hearing our best:
How can you REDUCE BACKGROUND NOISE in your environment?
- – At Home: Turn the TV off, down, or mute it when having a conversation
- – In the Kitchen: Turn off running water, the microwave, and fans that cause a lot of background noise
- – In the Car: Roll up the windows and turn down the radio to better understand the speaker
- – At the Office: Close the door to the room you are trying to have a conversation, this will help block out the extra office noise
- – In the Restaurant: Request a booth up against the wall or in a corner, avoid tables in the middle of the dining area, try to avoid
- busy dinner rush hours because there is more commotion and noise, ask to be seated away from the kitchen
Can you SEE the Speaker?
- – Face the person talking: Facial expressions, gestures and speech reading are all helpful cues in understanding and
- hearing the message
- – Wear your glasses: This will help you see the speakers face and mouth
- – Sit close to the speaker: The closer you are the easier it is to hear and see them, stay within 6 feet of each other; Avoid
- having conversation from different rooms
- – Good lighting is important to see the speaker clearly
What did you HEAR?
- – Repeat what you heard: This helps the speaker know you are listening
- – Avoid using the phrases “huh?” and “what?”: Instead repeat the parts you heard and the speaker can fill in any blanks
- – Don’t pretend you heard everything! Do not just nod in agreement; you never know what you might be agreeing to
Communication strategies can be used for people with hearing loss, but they are also effective and useful for people without hearing loss as well. It is important to remember that even those with great hearing still struggle to hear in some situations.
Next week we will go over good communication strategies for partners of those who have hearing loss. Sometimes we as communication partners can get frustrated or upset at our significant other who has difficulty hearing. We have some tips and strategies to help improve the flow of communication! Stay tuned!
If you are experiencing any difficulty hearing in background noise, please contact our office at 651-888-7800 to make an appointment with one of our audiologists.
Your hearing is important because it is what connects you with the world around you. It is one of our five precious senses. It is not something that is typically asked about by your family practice doctors but it is the sense that stimulates the brain the most. How important is hearing, really?
We begin hearing in the womb and can recognize our mother’s voice before we are even born! Early on in life, our hearing allows us to start learning language. Unless sign language is used, our hearing is an integral part in language development. Babies and toddlers will imitate the sounds of the world around them before they develop language. Strong language development lays the groundwork for our educational years.
While in our school-aged years, our hearing becomes important for both social and educational reasons. People who are unable to hear their teachers may start to fall behind their peers. This may also impact and shape social connections. Our life experiences build through our educational years. Hearing loss can be isolating and have an impact on how social connections are built.
Once people are entering the workforce, hearing can have a major impact on employment opportunities and earning potential. A study published in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology (2012) found that people with hearing loss are more likely to be either unemployed, or earn significantly lower incomes than their normal hearing peers.
The more common impacts of hearing loss tend to show in our elderly and aging population. Hearing loss becomes increasingly common as age increases. Our bodies wear out with age, and hearing is no different. Keeping the brain stimulated and active is a key activity to prevent this wear and tear from impacting our brains. If hearing loss prevents people from engaging in their social lives, the brain can start to shrink from lack of use. This can also lead to isolation, depression, and overall lower quality-of-life. If hearing loss goes untreated long enough, it can even cause neurological changes.
Hearing is important at every stage of life. We can take steps to prevent noise-induced hearing loss by wearing hearing protection in hazardous levels of noise. Some hearing loss in unpreventable. This is why it is important to get routine hearing evaluations so that you can catch changes before they may problematic and bothersome. Call our office today at (651) 888-7888 to schedule your hearing evaluation!