[Plenty of people have preconceived notions on hearing loss. More likely than not, these preconceived notions are inaccurate and are rooted in misconstrued societal stigma. It is not until we ourselves experience hearing loss or someone very close to us does that we fully understand the far-reaching impacts of it. For those who know someone with hearing loss, may it be a co-worker, friend, or family member, you probably have already taken the necessary steps in making adjustments and accommodations in order to improve communication.
Whether it is you or someone else who is recently experiencing hearing loss, it is important to ensure that everyone be heard and visible. Adjusting to life with hearing loss is a challenge, and it is a learning process for not only those experiencing it, but those who surround them. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a several key points that people with hearing loss wish folks with normal hearing knew about their experience.
Living with Hearing Loss is Exhausting
When you are living with hearing loss, hearing takes work. No matter the circumstance –may it be a regular work day during the week or a weekend outing with your family, straining to hear takes effort and energy. This may come as a surprise to those with normal hearing, because hearing is automatic for them. Imagine being a listener with hearing loss trying to make sense of the distorted or incomplete sounds and turn them into words or phrases, while also trying to keep up with the entire conversation. Without any extra processing time, some things just fall through the cracks. Constantly being engaged in every conversation like this is exhausting. What eases this challenge is if you find yourself engaged in conversation with someone hard of hearing, be patient and be willing to repeat a sentence or two.
Don’t Assume That I am Stupid or Rude
For those with hearing loss, being in conversation can be exhausting as they scramble to make sense of all that’s being said. Sometimes they’ll answer questions inappropriately or miss the main point of a conversation, but that does not mean they’re stupid. They just misheard what you said. And if they didn’t respond to your greeting or “excuse me,” also don’t jump to the conclusion that they’re rudely ignoring you, they probably just again misheard you.
Hearing Aids Help, but They’re Not the Cure All
Hearing aids are extremely helpful in improving the lives of those facing hearing loss, but they don’t function like eyeglasses. Where glasses transform a blurry image into a crisp and clear one, restoring your vision to normal, hearing instruments function a little differently. With hearing loss, cells in your inner ear are damaged which transmit sound to the brain. Hearing devices will help amplify sounds, block out background noise, and help remaining existing cells process sounds all around you. Hearing aids won’t bring back your hearing, but will certainly improve your hearing health significantly.
I Can Speak For Myself
Just because someone with hearing loss missed a question and didn’t respond does not mean you should speak for that person. People with hearing loss are not invalids, they are human beings with their own opinions. You may think that jumping in and speaking on their behalf is helpful, but it can be insulting and demeaning to the individual experiencing hearing loss. A rule of thumb is to never speak for someone with hearing loss; let them speak for themselves. If they failed to answer due to not hearing, let the speaker repeat the question.
A Few Things that Can Help Improve Conversation
If you know someone with hearing loss, you probably understand that there are challenges and struggles when it comes to engaging in conversation. Despite this, there are a few things that can improve conversation between the two of you. Patience is the first step. Following this, speak clearly and repeat yourself if necessary. Speak face to face and be sure they can see your face fully in order to be able to read facial expressions and other non-verbal cues. Lastly, get the listeners attention directly before speaking, that means don’t yell from another room.
Reach out to Focus Hearing Today
If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, you aren’t alone. Close to forty-eight million Americans live with hearing loss and struggle every day to communicate with friends and family. If you are ready for positive change and to improve your hearing health, visit Focus Hearing today for a hearing test.