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Did you know that hearing loss is one of the fastest growing public health issues in America? There are many reasons as to why we are not as well informed about the how and why of hearing loss. Much of it is due to negative stereotypes, lack of visibility, and the need for more public education.
One of the things that do affect us all is noise pollution, whether we are attending concerts for entertainment, walking or living by construction or enjoying a sporting event. Many of us are unaware of the accumulative stress and toll of everyday noise that we undergo from loud music from our noisy neighbors to our daily commute.
This is fast becoming a health issue that is difficult to notice at first glance and is gaining traction over the rise of cancer and diabetes. Those that live with hearing loss have a hard time with daily communication that others take for granted. How do we engage effectively with people that live with such a debilitating affliction? Here are five things people with hearing loss want you to know.
- Hearing loss fatigue
Be aware that the struggle to hear for those with hearing loss can be exhausting. There is the continual need for exertion on their part to keep up to par with normal spoken interactions.
When sound is distorted or parts of it in a conversation are not processed, there is a requirement of “filling in the blanks” and hoping that the context of the conversation or important details is accurate. The stress and strain in maintaining a normal dialogue with one or more people can be overwhelming and intimidating. With each new sound or voice, the person with a hearing aid needs to adjust and filter that sound into context. Patience and a slower pace of speaking will help greatly.
- Neither stupidity nor rudeness
Be continually aware that people with hearing loss have difficulty processing sound, and it impacts their ability and timing in a conversation – but this is not a reflection of their intelligence. Keep in mind that people do not make their hearing loss apparent. It is wise to step lightly before rushing to judgments if your question is ignored, if the point is missed, or if details are lost. If an answer seems inappropriate or the premise of an interchange misinterpreted, remember that it is not intentional and it was just misheard or not heard at all.
- Don’t speak for others
People with hearing loss do not need others to speak for them; rather, they need time to process and patience for their response. They are fully capable of voicing their own opinions and replies. If you haven’t gotten a response, be patient or rephrase the question. Do not speak on the behalf of another unless they have requested you to do so. It can be embarrassing for them and may reflect badly on you.
- Hearing aids are not obvious
They are neither used as fashionable accents like glasses can be, nor do they correct hearing the way glasses correct vision. They amplify sound and can maintain control of background clatter and help to process sound naturally. However, the onus is upon the person with hearing aid to decipher sounds and voices as they arise and know if they are relevant to the situation at hand. It is important to know that hearing aids can also amplify noises like the drone of an engine or the beeping of horns because they aren’t built to specify which sounds are of greater significance to the user making the situation more difficult!
- Help maintain and elevate your interactions
Get their attention first and as you converse, stay facing the listener. Allow them to see your expressions and physical language so that they can have a better grasp of the tone and subtleties of the conversation. Don’t walk away, leave the room or turn your back while speaking. Speaking clearly, allowing for longer response time and being patient lessen the chances of misinterpretation. Know that they are also doing their best to reciprocate and communicate.
Try repeating and rephrasing when you notice a problem in communication. If repetition doesn’t work try using different words for the same thing, for example, if ‘I’m going to the supermarket.” doesn’t work, try “I am going to the grocery store.”
You can put into play the information given so that engaging in conversation will be easier for all those involved and last but not least, help alleviate the strain for those that require hearing assistance.
Ascent Audiology & Hearing
If you have experienced changes in your hearing or you’ve noticed that a loved one is struggling with communication, consider a hearing test with Ascent Audiology & Hearing. We provide comprehensive hearing health care and our team is ready to help you hear your best!