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Hearing loss is a condition experienced by many people, yet those who do not have hearing loss tend to misunderstand what is going on in the mind of a person who struggles to hear. Although you may not have hearing loss, it is likely that someone you love either currently has hearing loss or might incur hearing loss within their lifetime.
Becoming aware of a few simple facts can make you sensitive to the experience of someone with hearing loss. You can even become an advocate for that person, making situations easier than they would be without your help. Take note of these basic features of life with hearing loss, and you may become newly sensitive to the struggle to hear. Gaps in hearing are not limited to “the ears” but have effects on the mind, cognition, communication, and social cues. If you can keep these basics in mind, you can better understand the many ways that you can help make life easier for someone with hearing loss.
“I am not trying to be rude”
Those with hearing loss engage in a constant battle to make sense out of their surroundings. This process is exhausting to the mind and body. When a person with hearing loss engages in conversation, even under the best conditions, that process will be a struggle, like putting together a puzzle without all the pieces. If you sense frustration on the part of a person with hearing loss, try to be patient and understand the person is not trying to be rude to you. Some people with hearing loss even tend to disengage from these exhausting and sometimes unsuccessful conversations. If you sense that someone needs a break, give them a chance to step away, collect their thoughts, and return to the conversation. You may even want to ask if there is something you can do to make the conversation easier.
“I am not unintelligent”
Although it could go without saying, hearing loss is not related to intelligence. Yet, many people tend to talk down to a person with hearing loss, acting as if they are operating at the level of a child. Although there are steps you can take to make the communication process easier, you don’t have to simplify your language or talk slowly. The problem facing a person with hearing loss is the inability to hear, primarily, and that does cause a struggle to understand what a person means. Yet, that struggle is not the same as not being intelligent enough to understand complex ideas or advanced language.
“Hearing aids help, but they don’t work like glasses”
Hearing aids are an incredibly beneficial form of treatment for those with hearing loss, yet they don’t immediately clarify the senses like eyeglasses do. Hearing aids amplify all the sounds in a room to become louder. Recent technology has made it possible to identify voices in a room and to limit the whirr of appliances, heating systems, and even the din of other voices in a noisy social space. Yet, they do not restore hearing completely, and it helps to keep in mind that background noise could make listening more difficult even with hearing aids.
“You can help”
A person with hearing loss faces a challenge to make meaning out of fragments of sound, but there are things you can do to help. Perhaps the most important is to look directly at the person while you speak. Our minds put together many different sensory cues to make meaning in a conversation, including the way a mouth moves, facial expressions, gestures, and body language. If you can supply those things to a person with hearing loss, the conversation will be much easier. Raising the volume of your speech a bit can be helpful, but don’t resort to awkwardly shouting, even if you are feeling frustrated at the struggle to converse. One of the most common mistakes is to try to speak to a person with hearing loss from another room. Although you may feel that the volume is sufficient, without the ability to see you speaking, the person with hearing loss might hear a jumble of sounds. Simply wait to talk until you are face to face and the conversation will go much more smoothly.
Visit Us at Roseville Diagnostic Hearing Center
If you or a loved one may be experiencing changes in your hearing, it would be beneficial to take a hearing test. At Roseville Diagnostic Hearing Center, we provide comprehensive hearing healthcare. If a hearing loss is detected, our team will work with you to find the best solution to treat your hearing needs. Contact us today to learn more!