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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Susan Hellyer, MD
Helping Those With Hearing Loss
A&A Maryland Hearing Center

Helping Those With Hearing Loss

Think about the last time you were in a crowded room with kids running around making noise, music in the background, and people chatting. Did you find it hard to focus on what was really being said to you?
Now imagine you have a hearing loss. For those with even mild hearing loss, even a one-on-one conversation can be difficult to hear without background noise. Phone conversations, without the benefit of some body language and unconscious lip reading, can be even more difficult.
Now imagine the conversation you are trying to have includes important instructions, such as how to take medicine or how to avoid driving through a dangerous section of town. What you say and their interpretation of it could be a matter of life or death.
As a person without hearing loss, become sensitive to those who have hearing loss when you are communicating with them and be proactive in modifying your communication to make it easier for everyone involved. Remember, the person with hearing loss may or may not realize they even have a hearing loss (given the gradual progression of most hearing loss and our bodys ability to accommodate) or they are embarrassed to admit the hearing loss so they just struggle to hear.
To enhance communication and make speaking with those who have hearing loss easier, here are some communication strategies for you to use
Face the person with hearing loss directly so they can see your lips.
Avoid sitting or standing with a bright light behind your face, it puts your face in a shadow and makes lip reading difficult.
Speak more slowly than usual, making an effort to enunciate each syllable clearly.
Move your conversation to a quieter area, away from heat vents, noisy or humming appliances.
Avoid speaking to someone with hearing loss in wide-open rooms that have hard floors and hard furniture. Room acoustics can be more challenging in such places.
If you are in a restaurant with someone who has hearing loss, ask for a table that is in a quiet area.
Make sure the rooms in which a person with hearing loss watches television have soft furniture, pillows, and a carpeted floor to help absorb sounds and minimize reverberation.
Suggest or give television “ears” and phone amplifiers (assistive listening devices).
When choosing a cell phone, ask the cell phone dealer for the models with hearing aid compatibility.
Stay patient and do not raise your voice or yell, since louder is not always better. Slower is better.
In addition to communicating more effectively with someone with hearing loss, consider being even more proactive. If you have a loved one or even a close friend with hearing loss, encourage them to get regular check-ups from a doctor of audiology. The doctor will monitor any changes in their hearing loss and can recommend treatment options. The doctor is up-to-date on the latest technology, with advances being brought to market more rapidly than ever as a record number of baby boomers are hitting that hearing loss age, after a lifetime of exposure to our noisy society.

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