“Communication works for those who work at it.”

~ John Powel

Life with a hearing loss is quite a challenging issue, that is sensitive enough to be handled with proper care. Not only should they be spoken to carefully, but the home and office atmosphere should also be motivating and comfortable enough. A successful communication with a person having hearing problems requires the joint effort of him/her together with all the near and dear ones around him/her.

 

Effects of Hearing Loss

There a whole lot of changes that occur in a person who is struggling with his or her hearing problems. Even after using much advanced digital hearing aids, the problem does not end by itself. The problems faced by people with untreated hearing loss are -

  • The person with hearing loss feels shy and socially isolated

  • He/she feels that he is ignored or is not taken heed of

  • The person avoids eye contact or face to face interactions for fear that he would not be able to participate efficiently, or would not be understood.

  • The person asks the person to repeat themselves or speak loudly

  • Worklife and productivity at work decreases, as a result of which business efficiency might suffer.

  • Health issues like headaches, muscle tension, and an increase in stress and blood pressure

  • The person with hearing loss abstains from listening to music, as he/she fears that the listening experience would not be as pleasant as it used to be before.

  • Untreated hearing loss is also associated with anxiety, depression, fatigue, frustration and even impaired memory and other psychological issues.

  • Auditory Deprivation might develop gradually as a result of untreated hearing loss, in which the brain stops recognising sounds it has not heard for a long time.

An early treatment procedure should, therefore, be started so as to avoid these problems, and to prevent situations from turning worse.

It is, however, very important to note that merely providing the hearing impaired person with the latest and advanced modern digital hearing aids would not in any way help. The main thing that is required in such a sensitive issue as a hearing loss is to acquire effective communication strategies. Following are some important tips that would be effective and helpful enough for you as a family member of a person with hearing loss to deal with him/her in your day-to-day lives -

  • Face the hearing impaired person directly - this will impart confidence in him/her.

  • Avoid talking from another room.

  • Speak slowly and clearly, distinctly, but naturally, and not exaggerating your mouth movements.

  • Speak in a volume level that is audible enough, but not too loud. Shouting distorts the speech sounds, hence making it all the more difficult for the hearing impaired person to read it.

  • Call the person by his/her name, before beginning a conversation.

  • Make use of visual communication, like hand gestures. It will make the conversation easier for the listener.

  • Do not speak while chewing a gum or while having food. It will distort the speech sounds.

  • Avoid blocking your face with your hands while speaking to the person with hearing loss.

  • Start with simple sentences. Avoid the complex ones. It will puzzle the struggling hearer.

  • Be extra careful while speaking with the person while he/she is ill or tired.

  • Try keeping the environment noise free while speaking to the person suffering from hearing loss.

  • Try to say the same thing in a different way, if not understood in the first place.

  • Make sure that the listener is well aware of the topic of discussion before proceeding towards more complicated discussions. Also avoid switching topics.

  • If you are giving some specific information like place, time, date, numbers, etc. then  make the hearing impaired person say it back to you to make sure that he/she has heard right. In matters of grave importance, like assignments, schedules and directions, write it down for the person.

  • Pay attention to the person with hearing loss when he is speaking, so that he/she has the feeling that he/she is given proper attention to.

  • Finally, and the most important tip is that you should always allow the other person to take turns in participating in the conversation, to keep it going and engaging. Avoid long monologues. It will make the person, especially when he/she is hearing impaired, boring and lose interest in the discourse.

In a nutshell, it can be said that no matter how advanced your digital hearing aids might be, the support and motivation of the people around you in your day to day life - mainly the family members becomes extremely crucial.