Explaining hearing loss to your friends can be difficult. You want them to understand what you’re going through, but sometimes they just don’t realize how hard it is for you to keep up with conversations or overcome the challenges of listening in places with a lot of background noise.
Better Speech and Hearing Month
Every year, the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) dedicates the entire month of May to raising awareness about communication disorders, so this is a perfect time to talk to your friends about your hearing loss. The ASHA works tirelessly to reduce the stigma surrounding communication disorders like hearing loss and encourages those with hearing loss to seek treatment and get back to communicating. Helen Keller once said that the sense she missed the most was hearing. Not being able to see put a barrier between her and the world, but not being able to hear separated her from people. The theme for this year is Communication for All, and the ASHA is increasing awareness of disorders that affect hearing, speech, and language in people of all ages.
I’m not Being Rude
Don’t let your hearing loss come between you and your loved ones but take the time to talk to your friends about your hearing loss. One of the worst assumptions is that you’re being rude when you don’t answer a question, when in reality you just didn’t hear your friend. You’re not ignoring them, and you need to ask them to be patient with you and realize you didn’t mean to upset them. Sometimes you might even answer inappropriately, but that just means you need to hear the question again because you didn’t catch it the first time.
I Get Tired Easily
Most people don’t realize that hearing loss can be exhausting, and it’s hard to explain to your friends how hearing loss makes you tired so easily. You use a lot of energy straining to hear, and unlike your friends, your brain is always on high power mode. Loud noises make your ears ring, fuzzy sounds grate on your nerves, and after a long conversation you feel drained. Hearing loss leaves you playing an endless game of fill in the blanks and trying to guess at the missing words. Even if you look normal on the outside, on the inside you’re a bundle of straining nerves, and you wish your friends would understand how tired you can get.
I’m Just as Smart as I Once Was
Just because you’ve lost some of your hearing doesn’t mean you’ve lost your intelligence. You want your friends to realize that even though you don’t hear everything clearly, you still have good ideas and opinions, and don’t want to be overlooked. For example, are your friends in the habit of helping your order at restaurants? You sometimes struggle to understand the server, but you still want to make your own decisions. Instead of taking over, or answering questions for you, your friends should repeat the question, and give you the chance to answer for yourself.
How to Help Me Hear
Good communication is all about listening, so this month take the opportunity to tell your friends how they can help you hear. Hearing loss is frustrating for everyone, and a few tips will make life easier for both you and your friends. Ask your friends to always face you when they’re speaking and keep their hands away from their face. You’ll be able to pick up on facial cues or lip reading to understand them easier. Yelling doesn’t help, but makes you feel like your friends are angry with you. Ask them to speak clearly instead of loudly and add pauses between sentences to allow your brain the time to catch up. These simple tricks could be the difference between a frustrating encounter or easy communication.
We’re Here to Help
This month isn’t just a time to raise awareness about hearing loss and talk to your friends, it’s also a time to seek treatment. Visit us at Pacific Northwest Audiology where our team of audiologists are waiting to help you hear. Communication should be easy for everyone, so join us for Better Speech and Hearing Month and invest in your hearing health. From the hearing assessment through to fittings and consultations, we’ll find you the perfect device that will get you back to hearing clearly.