- Thou shall get my attention before speaking.
- Thou shall not speak to me from another room.
- Thou shall not cover your mouth while speaking.
- Thou shall not have loud background noise.
- Thou shall rephrase instead of repeat.
- Thou shall not shout at me.
- Thou shall not answer for me.
- Thou shall not ignore me.
- Thou shall not underestimate my feelings.
- Thou shall be patient with me.
We can treat hearing loss with hearing devices,but many of us find that we still have difficulty hearing in certain situations. While hearing cannot be restored to “normal” even with the best-fit hearing devices, we can correct the hearing loss to meet your prescription. Hearing aids work best at a distance of 6–8 feet, and utilizing effective listening strategies can help with communication in difficult environments.
Mark Ross, an audiologist with a hearing loss himself, writes, “When someone in the family has a hearing loss, the entire family has a hearing problem.” Communication is a two-way street that requires those of us with less-than perfect hearing to focus and listen much harder. The “Ten Commandments” can actively engage friends and family members to bridge those gaps in communication.
- Own your hearing loss, don’t hide it! By saying something as simple as, “What you have to say is important to me, and I’m having a hard time hearing you,” or “Can you try to speak clearly and repeat yourself if I miss something?” Believe it or not, most people will be grateful to accommodate your request, and they will be much more understanding.
- Give yourself an edge by utilizing assistive technology. Ask Drs. Sheri, Mark, or Liz about assistive technology that can improve hearing in a crowded room, or that can assist with the television, phone, or in the car. You can also brush up on your speech reading skills. Pay attention to how often you tune out. Mentally prepare yourself for situations in which you may need to focus more. If you are interested in speech reading classes, check out the North Shore Senior Center. The Hearing Loss Association of America offers classes in Northfield that can help tremendously! There are also apps for smartphones or tablets that you can use to practice your communication strategies.
- Avoid saying, “huh?” or “what?” Try to say something along the lines of, “I heard you say that you’re going for lunch later, but I missed who you are going with and where.” Remember that if you are talking to someone with hearing loss, louder isn’t always better. Try rewording or adjusting the environment for them to hear better. For example, turn down the television or sit down next to the person you’re talking with.
- Lastly, go easy on yourself. Hearing loss is difficult and exhausting. You can only do your best. Try not to withdraw from the conversation; cheerfully keep trying the tips we listed, and stay positive that you’ll get better with more practice.