May is the perfect time to resolve to improve communication in relationships affected by hearing loss.
Why? May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, a time designed to raise awareness about the challenges of living with hearing loss and effective strategies to improve communication. This year, the month’s theme is “Communication Across the Lifespan.”
Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Arizona in Scottsdale encourages both those with hearing loss and their friends and family to work on strategies improving communication. The following measures can improve relationships with loved ones and our quality of life by making communication easier and more effective.
Types of Hearing Loss
Different types of hearing loss and conditions may affect which strategies are effective in improving communication. These types include:
- Sensorineural: Permanent hearing loss stemming from damage to the auditory nerve or inner ear
- Conductive: This hearing loss is caused by sound being unable to reach the inner ear, possibly from extra fluid, punctured eardrum or earwax buildup. Surgery or medical treatment can often improve hearing.
- Presbycusis: Age-related hearing loss that comes on gradually as a person gets older. Often hereditary, presbycusis is the most common type of sensorineural hearing loss. Initially affects ability to hear higher-pitched frequencies.
- Sudden hearing loss: Sudden deafness can occur immediately or over a short period of up to three days. This is considered a medical emergency – visit a doctor immediately.
- Tinnitus: Common hearing condition involving a ringing, buzzing or humming in the ears. Tinnitus is a sign of hearing loss or other medical problems including high blood pressure, medication side effect or allergies.
Strategies to Improve Communication
Fortunately, there are a number of techniques you can try to improve communication in the presence of hearing loss, including:
- Speak while facing and close to the person with hearing loss, but far enough away they can maintain eye contact and focus on the lips to aid speech reading.
- Talk clearly and loudly, but don’t shout – that can distort sounds and make it harder to understand you.
- Keep your mouth uncovered and in a room with good lighting.
- Be mindful of the person’s nonverbal cues. They may be hesitant to ask you to repeat yourself, so find a tactful way of making sure they understand you.
- Shorten sentences, using simple phrases instead of complex thoughts that can be difficult to follow.
- Do not speak over other people in group settings.