Hearing loss is a condition that can’t be seen and is one of the nation’s most important public health issues. According to the RNID, about 18% of the UK population has some level of hearing loss, whether mild or severe.
When we think about our health and fitness, hearing health isn’t given enough attention. The average person in the UK doesn’t know much about hearing loss, but by 2050, about 900 million people worldwide will have trouble hearing.
Take note of the following things so that the next time you talk to someone who has trouble hearing, you can help to keep a respectful conversation going. Here are five things that people who have trouble hearing wish they knew.
“Hearing aids don’t work like glasses.”
Hearing aids don’t tend to become a part of a person’s style like glasses do. They are made to blend in and help people hear better. Instruments that help people hear often make sounds louder, but it’s still up to the person wearing them to figure out which sounds are essential.
For example, when we’re having a conversation in a noisy restaurant, we automatically block out background noise that doesn’t matter. People who wear hearing aids must work hard to keep up with new sounds and tell them apart.
It is hard for people with trouble hearing to keep filtering out sounds that aren’t important to how they talk to others.
“It takes work to understand others in noisy places.”
People with trouble hearing have to work hard to participate in conversations, while the rest talk away without much thought. They have to lean in, move their bodies to get the most out of what they hear and pay attention to all physical clues to help them get by in social and professional situations.
When talking to someone with trouble hearing, be sure to speak clearly. Sounds that are easy for us to understand as part of a conversation are not the same for people with trouble hearing. They could be getting distorted sounds or muffled speech, making it hard for them to figure out what is happening. It wears you out and can be very disheartening.
“We’re not stupid.”
Make sure you don’t judge a person’s intelligence too quickly if they don’t answer you right away or don’t get your point. It’s not because they don’t try, but because they can’t process sound well or are distorted. If people mistime or misinterpret your answers, speak more slowly and give them more time to respond.
If you aren’t getting your point across, try repeating yourself and speaking clearly. The key is to be patient. People with hearing loss aren’t rude or stupid; they try hard to keep up and use all their resources.
“Try your best not to patronize us.”
When talking to someone who has trouble hearing, try not to do their talking for them. They may take a little longer to answer or catch up on the conversation, but they can and will. Again, the key is to be patient. If you’re talking and your point isn’t getting through, don’t get mad at the person who asks you to repeat it. For them, they must get what you’re saying. People having trouble communicating can also hurt each other and make things worse by being rude.
“There are a few things you can do to help us understand you.”
There are many ways to keep a conversation going with someone who has trouble hearing.
- Before you talk to them, it helps if you can first get their attention.
- Stay in front of them so they can read your body language, making it much easier for them to read your lips.
- Do repeat what you say when asked; if that doesn’t work, try putting what you say differently.
- Some words are more challenging to understand than others, so switch it up. You can change “I’m going to a weight training and fitness program” to “I’m working out at the gym!”
If we remember some of these critical pieces of information, we can help everyone around us have a conversation and exchange information that is good for everyone.
Have you noticed that a person you care about is having trouble following what’s being said? It could be because they can’t hear. Please do your best to convince them to treat their hearing. Once you’re done, contact us today to make an appointment for them for a hearing test!