Hearing loss can be an isolating condition, especially if it is not addressed. As Helen Keller once said, “Blindness separates people from things, but deafness separates people from people.” The same might be said of hearing loss, which interferes with our ability to communicate with the people in our lives.
With hearing loss, speech recognition might become challenging. Some of the early signs of hearing loss include asking people to repeat themselves or believing that everyone around you is “mumbling.” For some forms of hearing loss, higher-frequency sounds are difficult to register, and thus, some people struggle with hearing higher-pitched voices.
It’s been said that hearing loss affects not just the person who has it – but the entire family. If you – or a loved one – experiences hearing loss, read on for ways to improve communication in the family.
Treat Hearing Loss with Hearing Aids
Here’s the most important thing to keep in mind about hearing loss: it is 100% treatable. Though there is no cure for hearing loss, it is treatable with the use of hearing aids. In treating hearing loss, you are already taking steps toward significantly improving hearing loss with your family members.
There are a number of negative consequences of leaving hearing loss untreated. For one, communication with your loved ones will suffer. Hearing loss interferes with how we recognize and process speech, and when this process is hindered, it could lead to misunderstandings and frustrations. When communication is the foundation of all healthy relationships, hearing loss could seriously undermine that.
If you or a family member exhibits signs of hearing loss, it is important to seek treatment. At Hearing Consultants, we will provide you with a comprehensive hearing test and fully customized hearing aid fitting.
Two Simple Rules for Family Communication
From Hearing Health, a leading organization on hearing loss, writer Suzanne Jones offers two simple rules for family communication: “If you are the speaker, it is your job to be sure what you’re saying is being heard and understood. If it isn’t, you need to fix it. If you are the listener, it’s your job to let the speaker know whether you’ve heard and understood.”
And – Jones adds – “Be nice to each other!” Hearing loss can be a frustrating condition, especially when we don’t feel heard. Keep in mind that no one is setting out to hurt anyone’s feelings – it’s just a matter of making sure that conversations and intentions are clear.
General Tips for Communication
For most of us with normal hearing, communication is woven so seamlessly into our daily activities that we may not stop to think twice or analyze about what happens in social interactions. Think for a moment about non-verbal ways we acknowledge that other people are listening to us and understanding what we’re saying. There’s nods, or sustained eye contact, or even verbal cues like, “Mm-hm” or “yeah.”
Pay attention when you’re communicating with a family member with hearing loss. People with untreated hearing loss, especially, have learned ways to “fake it” in conversations and social interactions. Just to make sure you’re on the same page, do a little check in: “So – just to recap – you’re going to pick up the dog at the vet, and I’ll grab the dog food on my way home.”
Another important thing is to make sure you’ve got their attention first before you start speaking. It’s easy to shout from across the house or just start talking while you’re in the same room, but the person with hearing loss might not be listening at that moment. You could gently touch their arm or shoulder to get their attention and make eye contact before you begin speaking.
When it comes to speaking, there are several different scenarios. People who have treated their hearing loss with hearing aids have a much easier time with conversation, thanks to advanced technological features that analyze and process speech sounds. If you’re communicating with a loved one using hearing aids, it’s just important to remember to speak clearly at your normal volume of voice. There’s no need to speak more loudly than usual. If you’re a fast speaker, take a few pauses so they can catch up.
For family members who may have untreated hearing loss, communication becomes more difficult. Again, the most important thing to do in this instance is to sit down with your loved one and have a frank discussion about seeking treatment for hearing loss. “Faking it” in conversations only goes so far – and hearing loss is a degenerative condition, meaning it worsens over time.
Visit Us at Hearing Consultants
Our team at Hearing Consultants is committed to reconnecting you to the sounds of your life and the voices of your loved ones. If you or a loved one has been experiencing changes in hearing, schedule a consultation with us today.