Hearing loss can make it challenging to navigate conversations. Practicing a few strategies while also wearing your hearing aids can help you communicate effectively and with greater ease. The following tips can be easily integrated into everyday life, supporting your hearing needs and communication with loved ones.
- Maximize use of hearing aids. Hearing aids, the most common treatment for hearing loss, are an essential item that provides critical support for people with impaired hearing. It is important to get your hearing tested regularly because hearing needs can change over time. If your hearing needs change, your settings for your hearing aids may need to be adjusted. It is also important to understand your hearing aid settings and features so that you can get the most out of them. There are also hearing aid accessories that also maximize your device’s performance. Be sure to discuss this with your hearing healthcare provider. Lastly, it is important to wear your hearing aids during waking hours.
- Reduce background noise. We experience varying levels of background noise in everyday life. Hearing while there is background noise can be tough for anyone but it can be especially challenging for people with hearing loss. It contributes additional noise that the brain has to process and filter through. This creates additional labor for the brain which can contribute to fatigue and make it more challenging to hear. You can reduce background noise by lowering any volume settings on the TV or music playing, powering off any appliances that are not in use, driving with the windows rolled up to minimize environmental noise, silencing your phone while having a conversation, avoiding places that are noisy – especially during peak hours etc.
- Avoid multitasking. Though it can be common to multitask during conversations, this can be a barrier for effective communication. Engaging in activities like texting, cleaning, cooking etc. can be distracting in a few ways for people with hearing loss. It can create more noise for the brain to process, making it more challenging to hear. Multitasking can also block visibility which is important for people with hearing loss to have. This includes having access to lip which allows for lip reading – a common strategy people use to help identify individual words. In addition to lip reading, having access to body language like facial expressions, hand gestures, and other movements is also useful. This helps provide context for the conversation. Multitasking can take away from these access points.
- Sit strategically. Seating may be more important that you realize. Strategically choosing where you sit in any given space can support your hearing needs. A few tips include: do not sit near sources of loud noise like fans, speakers, a busy kitchen etc.; avoid sitting next to windows if there is a lot of street noise, and sit in a position that allows you to see as many people as possible. For example, sitting in the center at a dinner table allows you to see everyone’s faces which gives you greater access to nonverbal cues that are useful.
- Have a buddy. Another useful tip is to identify a loved one who can provide support. This is especially useful for navigating social settings like dinners and other gatherings that involve multiple people. Your loved one can help clarify things you may have missed and can be the go to person when you need support.
- Share communication strategies. You likely know what best helps you hear and feel comfortable during conversations. Sharing specific strategies that others can practice is a great way to invite others to contribute to making conversations more accessible. Strategies can include:
- Grabbing your attention before starting a conversation. People can do this by saying your name or tapping you on the shoulder.
- Facing you while speaking and maintaining visibility through the conversation.
- Putting the phone on silent to reduce distractions and background noise.
- Rephrasing rather than repeating.
- Speaking in a natural voice and taking natural pauses throughout the conversation.
These strategies can support your hearing needs, making it easier to engage in a
Contact us to learn more about the resources and technologies available to support your hearing needs and effective communication.