Hearing loss is a natural part of the aging process; it may also come a bit earlier than normal in people who have worked in environments with high levels of noise, or suffered some sort of damage to the ear. Listening is more difficult, and requires more effort. It is frustrating to say the least, but hearing aids and other strategies can help make it easier to live with. Here are just a few helpful tips for coping with the reduced ability to hear.
Investigate Hearing Aids
This tip is so obvious, it may not seem worth mentioning, but for many people, they probably should be using them a lot sooner than when they finally cave and get one. Don’t put off purchasing a hearing aid because you are embarrassed. You’ll get over it, and start enjoying a much higher quality of life. They have many now that you can barely see. Talk with an audiologist, who can test your hearing and determine which types of hearing aids will be most beneficial.
Advocate for Yourself
No one knows what you need better than yourself, so you must be your own advocate. Don’t hide your hearing loss. You may feel some sense of embarrassment, but not letting people know what you need will just further complicate things, and add to your frustration. If you don’t understand something, or missed something, ask the person to repeat or rephrase the message. Explain to others what hearing loss is really all about. Many people don’t understand that it is often not about the inability to hear someone speaking, but rather, hearing that someone is speaking but not being able to understand what they are saying.
Craft Your Environment to Your Advantage
If you are in a place where there is a lot of background noise, choose areas where it is most quiet—in a restaurant for example, don’t be near the door or kitchen. Anywhere there are partitions or low ceilings will be quieter. Good lighting allows you to better see the speaker’s gestures and facial expressions, providing helpful cues. In your home, carpeting may help reduce echo, allowing you to hear better. If you have a good ear, be sure to face the speaker so you are utilizing it. If you are listening to a lecture, get permission to record it. Get agendas at a meeting beforehand so you can know what will be talked about—this will help you tune into key words and know what is being discussed.
See if assistive listening devices are available in places such as churches, theaters and other public spaces. You can buy them for use at home as well.
Here are a few tips to better follow a conversation. Do your best to stay alert and zero in on the speaker. If you are with multiple people, listen to the flow for a bit if you are having trouble picking things up. You will start to tune into certain words and phrases that will give you a better idea of what is being discussed. If you truly become lost, ask for something to be repeated. Pay attention to faces, speech, gesture and tone.