Living with a hearing loss
People with hearing loss can still live a happy and rewarding life. However, impaired hearing makes communication difficult in certain situations, which can lead to frustration and fatigue with the all extra effort required. Over time a person with a hearing loss may begin to ‘sit out’ of group conversations or avoid social situations altogether because they easily lose the thread of conversation and end up feeling left out. This can lead to social isolation, and recent studies have found that those suffering from hearing loss are twice as likely as others to suffer from depression.
Obviously hearing aids can make a big difference to a hearing impaired person’s quality of life, but there are other things that can help. Read our tips and advice for living with hearing loss.
Hearing Assistive Technology
As well as hearing aids, there are other devices to make life easier for those suffering from hearing loss.
- Alerting devices – alarm clocks, smoke detectors, doorbells etc. that use either light, vibration, sound or a combination to alert the user.
- FM systems – a wireless device that enhances the use of hearing aids by providing greater clarity of speech/sound and a reduction in background noise in situations where additional hearing assistance is required.
- Hearing loops – a sound system for use with hearing aids. It consists of a looped cable that generates a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by the hearing aid when it is set to ‘T’. They are commonly found at shop or bank counters.
- Amplified telephones – a loud telephone that can be used with hearing aids or by itself to make telephone conversations louder and clearer. Textphones are also available.
- Personal amplifiers – a device that can be placed in front of the person you are having a conversation with or a television you are watching to capture sounds and play them directly into your ears.
Tips for better communication
The following tips may be useful for aiding and facilitating communication on a daily basis.
Tips for a hearing impaired person communicating with a hearing person:
- Face others when they are speaking – visual clues such as facial expressions, body language and lip movement will help you to interpret speech.
- Inform the person you are speaking to that you have hearing loss – don’t hide your limited hearing ability from other people. Instead, let them know how best to talk to you.
- Repeat back what you have heard – this will help to make sure you’re on track with the conversation and will provide feedback to the speaker that you have understood what they have said.
- Reduce the level of noise in the room – turn off the TV, radio and shut doors to help you hear the speaker more clearly.
Tips for a hearing person communicating with a hearing impaired person
- Ensure you have the person’s attention before you begin speaking – give the listener a chance to focus their attention and reduce the chance of missing words at the beginning of the conversation.
- Face the person directly and maintain eye contact – position yourself where you can be seen and ensure there is adequate lighting on your face. This helps the listener to lipread and to read your facial expressions and body language.
- Do not obscure your face with your hands or chew gum – this will make lipreading very difficult and muffle any sound you’re making.
- Do not shout or gesture – shouting can make it even more difficult for the hearing impaired person to lipread or understand you. Excessive hand movements can also distract a hearing impaired person from lipreading.
- Be patient – pause every now and then and repeat things if necessary. If the hearing impaired person does not understand after you have repeated yourself, try to rephrase your sentence.
- Make sure your expectations are reasonable – do not assume the listener can hear correctly because they are wearing hearing aids. Hearing aids alone may not let a person with hearing loss to communicate successfully in all listening situations.