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 talk with a soft-spoken person can be especially difficult. On the other side, 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 amplify speech to a comfortable level for the listener and reduce the need for repetition. While hearing aids can make sounds louder and clearer, clarity can still be an issue for those with poor word understanding, especially in noisy situations. When considering hearing aids, the level of technology chosen should be done so with your lifestyle and specific needs 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 compensate for the loss in clarity. The skill of lip reading can provide extra information to the hard of hearing; watching facial expressions and how words are formed can add visual cues to the audible portion of the conversation.
It is important to maintain face to face positioning with the speaker. This allows visual cues related to lip reading, the speaker’s emotional state, and allows the speaker’s voice to be picked up by both hearing aids. This visual 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.
Reduce background noise when able to minimize competing sounds. If unable 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.
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 provide the hearing impaired can provide enough information to enable understanding.
If the speaker is chewing or smoking, ask them to stop. This will give clearer visual cues and clearer speech. Facial hair 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. If 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.