Talking About Hearing Loss
When an individual has a hearing impairment, it changes the way he or she hears everyday conversations which can lead to frustration for both the individual and others in their life. No one wants to have difficulties in communication and most people are reluctant to seek help. Common excuses such as: “Everyone is just mumbling,” “I hear everything I need to hear” or “They just need to speak up” are more of a defense mechanism and can hinder an individual from taking responsibility for a deficit that can often be improved. Here is some helpful information about how hearing loss affects communication and how to talk to loved ones about seeking help.
Hearing Loss and Communication
Common complaints such as: people sounding like they are mumbling, others not speaking clearly or difficulty hearing in background noise can be an effect of a high frequency hearing loss. A high frequency hearing loss is one of the most common types of hearing loss and can be a result of noise exposure or the normal aging process.
Within the English language, we have vowel and consonant sounds. Many of the consonant sounds tend to be produced at high pitches. These consonants are what help us identify differences in words and provide clarity of speech. When an individual has a high frequency hearing loss some of these consonant sounds get filtered out which causes speech to become unclear and they may report a more “mumbled” sound quality. Likewise, if speech is unable to be heard clearly the brain can have more difficulties processing a difference between what is speech and what is noise in difficult listening environments.
Seeking Help for a Hearing Loss
One of the most difficult things to do is to talk to loved ones about a potential health-related issue. Hearing loss may be one of the most difficult issues to talk about due to the negative stigma or correlation it has with aging. When talking to a loved one about the possibility of a hearing loss, It is important to focus on how the loss may be taking away from his or her quality of life. Instead of using blame statements like “you can’t hear” or “you need a hearing aid,” try to focus on the possibility of improvement. Such statements as “I feel you could be hearing better than you currently do” or “I want you to be more comfortable engaging in conversations” can help start productive conversation rather than creating tension or resentment. It is very important to make sure an individual is ready and willing to seek help before setting an appointment with an Audiologist. If a patient ever feels he or she has been forced to seek help, outcomes can be limited and help may be rejected for an extended period of time.
If you or a loved one have noticed increased difficulties in communication and are ready to talk about options for improving your hearing, Call ENT Audiology Center at (325) 437-3617 to set up your comprehensive hearing evaluation. ENT Audiology Center, “Helping You Hear Better So You Can Live Life Better.”