If you are new to hearing aids, then it is important to understand you don’t get used to them overnight. It takes time and focus to relearn how to hear sounds you may have not heard in years. For the people in your everyday life, such as your friends and family, it can take time to learn to communicate again and rebuild rifts that may have become vast due to years of compromised communication. There are certain things you can do to help them communicate better with you. This not only gives you more of a chance at success when communicating, but helps you to advocate for your hearing needs in every aspect of your life.
What your family should understand about your hearing loss
Hearing aids are tiny devices which amplify sound. This does not return your hearing back to its original ability but gives you an advantage to help hear, much better than before. Still, it can help to have people communicate clearly and direct with you to help hear better. The issue is that for many without hearing loss they may not be aware of these communication strategies, which can make your hearing experience more complete.This is why it is extremely important to educate your family and friends about your specific hearing needs as well as basic communication tips.
Advocate for your needs
Hearing loss is often referred to as an invisible disability because the people around you may not realize you have a loss unless you tell them. Even if your friends and family know about your hearing loss, it is all too common that they forget to speak to you in a way where your communication needs are met, unless they have formed a strong habit around it. It is okay to remind the people in your life of key tips to help you hear.
Important tips for communication
For those who rely on lip reading and facial expression to compensate for what they can’t hear, remind the people in your life to make sure that their face is in clear view and well lit when addressing you. Ask them to avoid putting their hands over their mouth so you can optimize and visualize cues. Another common thing you may remind them of is to avoid speaking to you from another room. If they can make sure they have your attention, and maintain eye contact while speaking you both will have a more successful conversation.
Listening in noise
It can be difficult for anyone to hear conversation in a noisy environment, but for those with hearing loss, this has added hurdles. Many hearing aids have features which suppress background noise, but these don’t always solve the problem all of the time. Let your family know, if it is difficult to hear over the dishwasher, laundry machine, background music or when many people are speaking. Suggest instead, that they wait to run machines, turn down the stereo, or TV in the background or wait to communicate important information until you can find a quieter setting.
Pronounce words slowly and clearly
Another major confusion for people with hearing loss is that when people slowly pronounce their words and enunciate it is much easier to follow. Oftentimes people believe they have to yell to communicate with a family member with hearing loss. If you have experienced this, then you already know how condescending this can feel. Yelling can actually distort words and sound, making it more confusing. Instead, ask your family members to avoid slang or shortening words when they can. These kinds of short cuts can be very confusing when you are struggling to hear.
Tips to teach your friends and family members
When people in your life are invested in a relationship with you, they will take the time to make sure you can hear your best and stay engaged in most conversations you have together. Of course there will always be those times when they forget. This is why it could be helpful to write these tips out and send them to your loved ones for future reference.
When you take the time to advocate for your hearing needs and your loved ones become used to these accommodations, you will find that your relationships will improve. If you still haven’t dealt with your hearing loss, then it is up to you to schedule a hearing exam today and get on the road to clearer communication.