Hearing aids and tips for better communication

Hearing loss can be stressful for all parties involved in a conversation. For the hearing impaired, struggling to make sense of what is being said when hearing speech as a mumble is frustrating, fatiguing and annoying. Trying to converse with a soft spoken person can be especially difficult. On the other side, a person develops a vocal pattern over his or her lifetime that includes a comfortable speaking level. Having to raise the level of one’s voice for more than a short period of time or frequently repeat becomes fatiguing very rapidly.

Hearing aids can help by amplifying speech to a comfortable level for the listener and reduce the need for repetition if the word understanding is sufficient. While a hearing aid can make sounds louder and clearer, clarity can still be an issue for those with poor word understanding ability, especially in noisy situations. When considering hearing aids, the level of technology chosen should be done so with your lifestyle and specific difficulties in mind.

Hearing impaired individuals can benefit significantly from an appropriate level of hearing aid technology with the development of skills, behaviors and strategies that can compensate for the loss in clarity. The skill of lip reading can go a long way in providing extra information to the hard of hearing to follow a conversation.

For the hearing impaired, it is important to maintain face to face positioning to the speaker. This allows visual cues related to the speaker’s emotional state, lip reading, and allows the speaker’s voice to be picked up by both hearing aids. This input gives the listener more to work with in hearing the speaker’s voice and in processing speech in a noisy environment. The speaker also needs to try to maintain face to face positioning to improve the listening environment.

Hearing in noise is difficult, reduce background noise when able to minimize competing sounds. If not able to reduce background noise, try to position yourself so that the noise is behind you and not behind the speaker. Make sure the speaker is near; greater distance will make listening more difficult.

If the speaker says something you don’t understand, many times rewording the phrase can help. An example is rewording “I’m going shopping” to “I’m going to the store”. Sometimes a simple rewording of a statement or question can make a huge difference.

If the speaker is chewing or smoking, ask them to stop. This will give clearer visual cues and clearer speech. Facial hair such as beards and moustaches can interfere with visual cues also. There may not be an easy way around this, however.

Ask the speaker to converse in a normal conversational level of loudness and not to exaggerate mouth or facial movements when speaking. Exaggeration can interfere by distorting visual cues. I the speaker talks rapidly, ask them to slow down without exaggerating their speech pattern.

These tips can help to make a difficult listening situation easier. When used with properly fit hearing aids, listening can be less fatiguing; helping you to stay connected to family, friends, and work associates. Better hearing can improve your quality of life and help reduce feelings of isolation from your daily environment. Our goal at Gardner Audiology is to remove barriers to better hearing and improve your quality of life. We offer a wide range of technology to meet your needs and lifestyle. Feel free to call us at 1-800-277-1182.

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