Things People with Hearing Loss Wish You Knew

Things People with Hearing Loss Wish You Knew

In Communication, Stigma by Dr. Chris Lawson

Dr. Chris Lawson

Chris Lawson’s credentials include a Doctorate in Clinical Audiology (Au.D.) from the University of Maryland in College Park, and a B.S. in Communication Disorders from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. His graduate clinical training included rotations at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), public schools, and private practice settings.
Dr. Chris Lawson

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Hearing loss of course one’s ability to hear what is happening in the world around them in so many ways. When someone is experiencing hearing loss, conversations can be all but impossible to follow. People with hearing loss may very well be able to hear a given conversation, but that does not mean that they can necessarily understand and follow the exact words being stated. The activity of hearing can be especially difficult in crowded spaces and in places with multiple, overlapping sounds happening, such as restaurants as cafes. Hearing loss can make everyday activities such as watching TV difficult.

If someone you know is experiencing hearing loss, they are likely going through many intense changes in all aspects of their life. Hearing loss deeply impacts people’s ability to feel engaged in and connected to world—and this disconnection can be exacerbated by well-intentioned friends and loved ones who do not understand what hearing loss feels like. These are four things that it is important to know when it comes to people who are experiencing hearing loss.

Hearing loss can happen to people of all ages

There is a common and pervasive stereotype that old people are the only ones who have hearing loss. Hearing loss can occur as the result of temporary and prolonged loud noises, however, which means that people of all ages are susceptible. People working in loud environments with, for example, heavy machinery, are susceptible to hearing loss, as are people who wear in-ear headphones and listen to music loudly Understanding that the hearing loss your friend or loved one is experiencing is not abnormal but can be a mix of biological and environmental issues is a key step to understanding the emotional experiences they are simultaneously having.

Hearing loss changes how people communicate

You do not need to shout or speak excessively slowly when you are talking with people experiencing hearing loss. What you do need to do is practice good communication habits. People with hearing loss can have a hard time distinguishing amongst many different sounds, which makes it difficult for them to communicate in places with a lot of noise or in conversations where many people are talking at once. Be conscious of whether the person you are talking to prefers to hear out of one ear over the other, or if they need you to establish eye contact with them before you start speaking with them. If you want to have important or direct conversations with loved ones experiencing hearing loss, choose sites with minimal external noises to make it easier. Above all, don’t be afraid to ask what communication needs your friend or loved one experiencing hearing loss may need.

Hearing loss takes an adjustment period

Patience is key. Managing healthy hearing habits can be physically and emotionally exhausting and it certainly does not help to be surrounded by people who are impatient, who do not want to adjust their own communication habits, or who alienate people with hearing loss. If you are frustrated while communicating with someone experiencing hearing loss, imagine how they feel losing their abilities to fully engage with people and their surroundings. The more you can create an open and caring environment for people to adjust to their changing hearing and communication needs, the better off everyone will be.

Hearing aids have come a long way

The more you know about hearing aids, the better support you can provide to your friend or loved one experiencing hearing loss. Hearing aids are no longer large devices that ran out of batteries quickly, produced high pitched noises, and malfunction without reason. In this day and age, high-tech, low-profile hearing aids have flooded the market. They range from efficient behind-the-ear devices that will provide hours of crisp and clear hearing with strong and lasting batteries to sleek, in-ear-canal devices that are largely invisible to the naked eye. More often than not, new hearing aids come equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, some have directional microphones, and they make it easy to save hearing settings based on the spaces you frequent. Participating in your friend or loved one’s journey selecting and adjusting to a new hearing aid without judgement will go a long way in ensuring their emotional well-being.

Evergreen Audiology

Have you experienced changes in your hearing? Are you concerned that a loved one might be struggling with hearing loss? Evergreen Audiology is here to help. We provide comprehensive hearing health services, from hearing tests to hearing aid fittings to custom hearing protection. Contact us today to learn more.