Hearing loss is an ‘invisible’ condition, and as such, hard of hearing people often have to deal with the impatience, frustration, or anger of others who fail to realize they are speaking to a hard of hearing person, and assume they are being ignored or are speaking to someone who doesn’t understand.
In addition to this, hearing loss can be isolating, creating distance between the person who is hard of hearing and their acquaintances, friends, and even family members. If you know someone with hearing loss and want to understand more about the effect it has on their life and how you can help, take a look at this list of things people with hearing loss wish more people understood.
1. Daily life with hearing loss can be exhausting.
Listening and trying to understand speech with hearing loss is a difficult task. Often, hard of hearing people have to deal with a lack of clarity in the sounds they hear, as well as their own sensitivity to background noise. This is tiring work for the brain, so much so that it is necessary to take short ‘listening breaks’ throughout the day to allow the mind to rest and recharge. This constant task of listening can make many aspects of daily life more challenging, from work meetings to dinner parties. Trying to understand speech is made even more tiring due to the fact that the conversation keeps going without pause while the hard of hearing person is doing the extra work of figuring out what has just been said.
2. Hard of hearing people aren’t being rude, they just didn’t hear you.
Try not to take it personally when a hard of hearing person doesn’t respond when address them, ask them a question or tell them something about your day. As many people are missing the mid-to-high range frequencies at which speech occurs, it is often the case that they just didn’t hear you. Remember that they are not ignoring you or intentionally being rude–actually, they probably want to hear you very much, and just need you to repeat yourself.
3. Speaking in a loud voice doesn’t necessarily help
Facing someone with hearing loss directly while speaking will help much more than talking at a loud volume. Often people with hearing loss also suffer from sensitivity to loud noises (hyperacusis), and when people shout it can actually be painful for them.
4. Hearing doesn’t become ‘perfect’ with hearing aids.
While glasses can effectively restore less-than-perfect vision to 20/20, hearing aids are not currently able to restore hearing with the same degree. Although hearing devices have come a long way and provide much more sophisticated, nuanced amplification than they used to, a person wearing hearing aids does not have ‘perfect hearing’. In noisy situations, background noise may be amplified in addition to speech, which can actually make hearing more difficult. With this in mind, when speaking to a hard of hearing person in a noisy environment (such as a crowded restaurant), make sure to sit close enough that they can hear you, and that they can see your face at all times.
5. Speaking for someone with hearing loss isn’t necessary.
And in fact, it’s a bit rude. When you and your hard of hearing loved one are speaking to another person, never assume that you need to answer a question for them, or speak at all on their behalf. If it’s clear that they haven’t heard a question, repeat it for them so that they can respond for themselves.
6. There are a few simple things you can do to help.
You may be wondering how you can help make listening easier for your friend or family member who has hearing loss. A few simple tricks can go a long way.
When speaking, make sure your face (and lips) are in full view, don’t cover your mouth with your hand, and avoid calling out to them from another room. Another good rule of thumb is get your hard of hearing listener’s attention before starting a conversation–you can do this by simply saying their name or tapping them on the shoulder.
The common theme? Make sure they can see you fully, and give them a moment to prepare to listen. These easy rules will make conversations clearer, less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Are you experiencing changes to your hearing? Are you concerned that a loved one might be experiencing hearing loss? Contact us at Neighborhood Hearing Aid Centers today to schedule a hearing test and consultation.