If you have a family member or friend who has hearing loss, you may ask yourself: What does it sound like for them? What is it like for them to communicate with others? And what is it like for them to hear their voices?
It’s not just the obvious things you might wonder about, such as how it feels for them to go to a loud concert or restaurant and have trouble hearing the person next to them. You might also wonder about what it must be like at a job interview.
This post is for you if you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from hearing loss or if you love someone who suffers from hearing loss. While each person with hearing loss has their own unique experiences, there are a few common elements that people who are living with hearing loss understand with the rest of the world. The following is a list of some of the most frequently voiced wishes from hearing loss people.
“I’m doing my best to hear what you have to say.”
Hearing loss is so gradual and subtle that it’s easy for loved ones to forget their friends or family members have it. We understand how frustrating it may be when your communication partner constantly asks you to repeat yourself, whether speaking passionately to someone with hearing loss or just sharing your day.
Please understand that when a person with hearing loss asks you to repeat themselves, they genuinely want to comprehend what you’re saying and are doing their best to do so – not because they aren’t paying attention.
“Please don’t leave the conversation.”
We understand that conversing with someone with hearing loss can be frustrating at times, and believe us when we say they are annoyed. Please be patient with a communication partner with hearing loss and avoid saying “never mind” or quitting the talk when it becomes challenging.
“I can speak for myself.”
Hard-of-hearing people do not require others to speak for them. People with hearing loss can communicate independently as long as those around them are ready to make minor modifications.
“Hearing loss is mentally and physically taxing.”
Shari Eberts summed it up wonderfully in an article on livingwithhearingloss.com when she compared living with hearing loss to being a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. “The contender (or listener in this situation) is trying to make sense of the various and incomplete sounds he or she is hearing and convert them into a word or phrase that makes sense in the context of the conversation,” she writes.
One of the first things to disappear is the ability to recognize and decode minute changes in letter sounds, such as the “d” and “p” sounds. This is difficult to handle because talks do not pause to allow the brain to complete this additional processing. Hence, it’s no surprise that hearing loss can feel like being forced to solve an aural jigsaw puzzle all day long.
“Rephrasing is better than repeating yourself.”
If you’re speaking with someone who has hearing loss and they ask you to repeat yourself, do so slightly louder and more clearly the second time. If they still do not hear the second time, do not speak at a toddler’s pace or repeat the exact words louder and louder until one of you becomes angry. Simply rephrasing your phrases can sometimes boost intelligibility and comprehension substantially.
Hearing aids do not function in the same way that glasses do. Hearing aids can significantly improve conversations and quality of life, but they do not completely restore normal hearing. Hearing aids, unlike glasses, do not totally “repair” hearing loss. Therefore it’s crucial to understand what modifications your loved one with hearing loss requires to comprehend you fully.
Many of these concerns can be alleviated by wearing hearing aids customized to your unique hearing profile. Contact us if you have any questions regarding your hearing health or are seeking hearing aids that are a better fit for you. We are here to assist you and eagerly await your call.