How Hearing Loss Affects Communication
Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition in the United States, following heart disease and diabetes respectively. It affects 20% of the population, or 48 million Americans. The rate of hearing loss rises within older populations of Americans, with one in three people over 65 experiencing some degree of hearing loss, and 50% of people over 75 experiencing some degree of hearing loss. In the workforce, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that 60% of people experience some degree of hearing loss. Similarly, 60% of veterans returning from combat zones report incidents of hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing of the ears). In recent years, the rate of hearing loss has grown in younger populations due to the ubiquity of earbuds and personal electronic devices. Hearing loss has often been linked with age, but is also a product of exposure to noise over an extended period of time.
Tips for Communication with People with Hearing Loss
Better communication strategies can smooth the period of adjustment required when individuals start wearing hearing aids. This also helps to reassure both the person with hearing loss, as well as their loved ones, that they are being heard and understood. If you suspect or know that the person with whom you are speaking is currently experiencing hearing loss, or is a new hearing aid user, please consider the following tips to enhance communication:
• Sit or stand within 3 to 6 feet to maximize audibility.
• Remain at eye level to foster visual cues.
• Gain the person’s attention before speaking.
• Use facial expressions and gestures to give clues to the meaning of your message.
• Raise your voice, but do not shout. Loud speech may sound distorted.
• Speak slowly and distinctly.
• Use simple, short sentences.
• Rephrase your words if the person does not appear to understand or responds inappropriately.
• Avoid speaking directly in the person’s ears because it can distort your message and hide all visual cues.
Addressing and Treating Hearing Loss
Studies show that people wait an average of seven years between the time they first experience changes in their hearing and when they decide to treat their hearing loss. During this time, people may unintentionally alienate themselves from relationships due to difficulty with communication. Untreated hearing loss leads to withdrawal from social interactions, as well as an increased risk of stress, anxiety and depression.
Because it is a sensitive topic, broaching the subject of hearing loss with a loved one may be difficult. At the same time, it comes with manifold benefits which will improve both their life as well as your relationship in the long term. Hearing loss is most commonly treated with hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify sounds and provide a clear signal to be processed by the brain. Most hearing aids are digital and automatic, as well as compatible with wireless devices. With fast processing systems and sleek, discreet designs, hearing aids are sophisticated, small computers that open up a world of accessibility for wearers. If you believe that you, or someone you love, are experiencing hearing loss, contact us at Aaron’s Hearing Care today.
Concerned about Your Communication?
Whether you are concerned about your hearing or for the hearing of a friend or loved one, we can help. Schedule an appointment with Aaron's Hearing Care. Dr. Liebman and his professional staff can evaluate your hearing and helpful provide solutions.Contact Us