Latest posts by Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA (see all)
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Helen Keller once remarked, “Blindness separates people from things, but deafness separates people from people.” With hearing loss, we can easily be isolated from those who are closest to us.
This isolation comes from the difficulty in understanding the words of family members. You might have noticed it when you repeatedly ask your family members to repeat themselves, or complain that they ‘mumble too much’. The voices of women and children might be particularly hard to understand, given hearing loss and its propensity to shave more frequencies off of the higher end as it develops.
Hearing loss affects everyone in the family, not just the person who has it. If you have hearing loss and are concerned that you might be losing connection to your family members, here are some things you can do to help restore the lines of communication.
1. Be patient and clear in your needs
No matter how bad your hearing gets, it’s still invisible. Unlike blindness, it’s something family members might even routinely forget that you have. As a result of not actively thinking about your hearing loss, they may forget to do certain things to help facilitate communication and understanding. You must keep your patience when this happens.
They are not ignoring you, but they might need regular and clear reminders of what to do as they adjust to your needs.
2. Reduce Background Noise
Noisy places remain the toughest environment for a person with hearing loss. When you are out for a meal with your family, make sure you maintain the home-field advantage by finding a quiet corner or at least a place that doesn’t play loud music. This ensures you’ll have a much easier time understanding the conversations around the table.
You have even more control over your environment at home, so use it. Turn down the volume on the TV as someone starts a conversation with you, so that you can focus more easily on what’s being said. Similarly, don’t be shy about asking others in the room to quieten down if their words or devices are hampering speech recognition.
3. Make sure you can see their faces.
It’s easier for people with hearing loss to decipher speech when they are facing the speaker and able to see their mouth moving. These visual signs become more vital the more severe your hearing loss. Request that your family face you when talking to you. If they call at you from upstairs, the likelihood of you understanding their words is slim. They will have a much better chance of getting through to you if they come over to you, get your attention, and speak directly to you.
4. Remind others to speak clearly
Most of us try to speak with the least amount of effort possible. We often use slang, shorten phrases or trail off when talking. When asked to repeat themselves, your family members might overcompensate by shouting back in a bid to help you understand. While their intentions are good, it’s important to remind your family that speaking louder doesn’t always make it easier for you to hear. Shouting can sometimes distort sounds and your understanding of their words is compromised even further.
It’s much more effective if they enunciated better when talking, paying attention to the clarity of each vowel and consonant.
5. Remind others to be more verbose
Request that your family use more words when talking to you. If they respond with a “yes” or “no” to a question, it might be tricky to understand what their response is. It can make the world of difference if they even add a few words to their responses, like “yes, I did”.
If you don’t understand your family members the first time, it’s also effective for them to rephrase their statement or question. This will help you identify keywords, which will help you understand the gist of their words better.
Get Fitted for a Hearing Aid
If you haven’t got a hearing aid yet, this should be your first port of call. It will increase your chances of hearing your family members, especially the women and children in your life. They work by reducing background noise and increasing the volume of the frequencies you find difficult to hear.
Don’t let your hearing loss come between you and your family. Contact us today at Encore Hearing to schedule a hearing consultation. If a hearing loss is detected, we can help you find the best solution for your needs!