Untreated hearing loss (i.e. not wearing hearing aids) has been linked to numerous health complications such as diabetes, hypertension, depression, anxiety, and even cognitive decline. However, an estimated 28 million people in the United States experience some type of treatable hearing loss. Yet, less than a quarter of those people seek help to enhance their listening lifestyle.
One answer is the unrealistic expectation attached to hearing aids: that hearing aids are going to return hearing back to “normal”. Unfortunately, this is not the case. An individual with hearing loss needs to utilize effective communication strategies in conjunction with hearing aids. Combining the hearing and visual senses sets a hard of hearing individual up for less communication breakdown, positive relationships, and ultimately a better quality of life.
You or your loved one should get your hearing evaluated by an Audiologist if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Muffled, mumbled speech sounds
- Trouble understanding when a speaker’s face is unseen
- Difficulty hearing on the telephone
- Difficulty hearing people speak in a crowd (i.e. background noise)
- Trouble understanding the voices of women or children
- Friends or loved ones complaining you turn the volume of your TV or radio too loud
EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES
Communication is a two-way street. Good communication requires the efforts of at least two people, even when one of them is utilizing hearing aids.
Tips for Communicating with Individuals with Hearing Loss:
- Always face the person you are speaking withMake your mouth visible
- Avoid noisy backgrounds
- Get attention first e.g. “Jim, could you pass the vegetables?”
- Don’t shout. Shouting distorts your face and mouth
- Speak clearly, at moderate pace
- Rephrase if you are not understood and try different words
- Use facial expression and/or gestures
- Be patient if response is slow. Making sense of conversation takes time and is fatiguing
- Stay positive and relaxed
Tips for Communicating as an Individual with Hearing Loss:
- Anticipate difficult situations, plan how to minimize them.
- Pay attention. Watch, listen & concentrate to follow conversation
- Look for visual cues like facial expressions, gestures and body language
- Don’t interrupt. Let conversation flow to gain more meaning
- Admit if you are lost
- Conversation can be tiring. If too tired to concentrate, ask for discussion later
Kelly Kolonay, AuD obtained her doctorate in Audiology from Pacific University in Portland, Oregon and is currently practicing as a Doctor of Audiology in Phoenix, Arizona. Kelly is passionate about working with the veteran population. She specializes in hearing aids, aural rehabilitation, central auditory processing disorders, and tinnitus management. Kelly is the daughter of Bobbi Kolonay RN MS CCM the owner of Holistic Aging – Options For Elder Care.