As we continue our focus in May on hearing loss, one of the most important things we can do, whether it’s you or a family member suffering from hearing loss, is learning to improve communication in the face of this condition. Left untreated, or even just unacknowledged, it can not only lead to strains in communication with family, friends and medical professionals, but also to feelings of depression.
Avoiding Isolation from Hearing Loss
The American Academy of Audiology gives some statistics on the impact hearing loss can have on one’s quality of life if left untreated.
- 33% of adults 70 years of age or older have hearing loss that impacts their daily communication.
- Less than 25% of adults with significant hearing loss use hearing aids.
- From the time one first starts feeling affected by hearing loss, it takes on average seven years for them to seek treatment!
- There is a strong relationship between hearing loss and depression among US adults of all ages who suffer from hearing loss.
Untreated hearing loss can lead to bad moods, social isolation and potentially even depression due to the challenges it brings with communication. Therefore, we must ensure we are doing all we can to create a modified way to communicate, with the goal of allowing for a more normal quality of life.
Listening and communication skills are fundamental to building better understanding when faced with hearing loss. There are hearing aids and cochlear implants that a doctor may recommend for you or your family member, and this can often be the first step to dramatically improving communication.
After that, the American Academy of Audiology gives some other helpful strategies to allow for easier and more effective conversation.
1.Whether it’s you or a family member suffering from hearing loss, always face the individual you are speaking with and the one who is speaking with you. This way your mouth is always visible when you talk. Without realizing it, people can and will often lip read to catch a word that was missed.
2. Seek a surrounding that is free from any background noise whenever possible. Even the best noise reducer devices will not eliminate noise completely. It’s hard for someone with hearing loss to try to compete with any environmental or background noise when listening.
3. It’s okay to ask for clarification when needed if you couldn’t hear everything said. And if someone with hearing loss asks you for clarification, try to rephrase what you just said instead of repeating it word for word. This gives the other person a better chance of understanding if they were struggling with one or two specific words previously.
4. Always advocate for yourself or your family members experiencing hearing loss! Ensure all communication partners are aware of the impairment prior to initiating communication.
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