Ask your spouse or significant other; someone you spend a lot of time with. They will be more than happy to provide you with an honest opinion about your hearing ability. Your spouse/significant other will typically notice your hearing loss before you do or before anyone else does for that matter. He/she will notice that you ask for people to speak up, repeat themselves or that you come up with inappropriate answers to questions. Sometimes this might be amusing, sometimes embarrassing.
Hearing impairment can be stressful and result in fatigue. For the non-hearing impaired, having to repeat yourself frequently or to raise your voice to a level you’re not accustomed to can also be stressful. Trying to make sense of an answer that does not tie in to the question can be tiresome, if it happens frequently.
Impaired communication can have detrimental effects on the relationship. Accusations of mumbling, or of being ignored or disregarded can occur. It is frustrating for both parties and can lead to strife in the relationship. Contempt is a strong word but is fitting in describing some relationships that that are impacted by faulty communication due to hearing loss. Avoidance of conversing can occur if one or both parties reach the point where nonessential communication is just too demanding and deemed to not be worth the struggle.
There are ways to help minimize communication difficulties. Ensure that both parties are in reasonable proximity, facing each other and prepared for a conversation. Knowing the topic in advance can be a tremendous benefit. Facial expressions convey a lot during a conversations. Also, by facing one another, the hearing impaired individual has a better chance of hearing with both ears, giving the brain more to work with in regards to speech understanding. Keep it simple; complex sentences are way too difficult to follow and can cause interest and attention to wane rapidly. Slow down your rate of speech. Rapid speech can be as difficult to follow as complex sentences…too much information to process. Trying to communicate from the other side of the house is setting yourself up for failure; don’t do it. Minimize background noise. Mute the TV. Surely, whatever you’re watching isn’t as important as conversing with a loved one and if it is, save the conversation for a quieter time and place.
Remember, communication with a hearing impaired individual can be effortful…for both parties.
A thorough hearing evaluation by an audiologist is the surest way to confirm a hearing loss. Through visual inspection the loss may be determined to be wax impaction; easily remedied. A more serious cause may involve a visit to a specialist for medical evaluation. Hearing loss generally does not fix itself. Early diagnosis and treatment is the best approach.
Advancements in hearing aid technology are worth investigating. Amplification can make life easier and less stressful. Today’s hearing aids have the capacity for automatic operation in a variety of situations, with the goal of making speech sounds audible and intelligible.