Are you an Older Adult? Having difficulty hearing?

Independent Living
July 20, 2022

Are you an Older Adult? Having difficulty hearing?

Have you lived with hearing loss for a long time, or have recently seen a decline in your ability to hear? Do you find yourself experiencing any of the following: Have trouble hearing over the telephone, find it hard to follow conversations when two or more people are talking, often ask people to repeat what they are saying, need to turn up the TV volume so loud that others complain, have a problem hearing because of background noise or think that others seem to mumble?

If anyone is suffering from hearing loss, it can be difficult and even frustrating for them to communicate effectively with others. However, for seniors like yourself who experience age-related hearing loss, you may likely feel isolated and want to withdraw from social situations, which can over time take a terrible toll on your overall quality of life.

The use of proper communication techniques can significantly improve hearing and listening performance. As you get out and socialize with others, use the following tips to advocate for yourself as you are navigating the hearing world:

  • Look at the speaker.
    Your brain can pick up a lot of information from visual cues that can supplement what you hear to help you understand the message. Everyone reads lips more than they realize, and facial expressions and body language can provide helpful cues as well.
  • Find the best location for listening.  
    Placing yourself between the speaker and sources of background noise makes it much easier to hear and understand what is being said.  Practice finding the best locations for different situations. For example, sit across from your host in a restaurant, or stay in a room apart from the music at a party.
  • Choose favorable listening environments whenever possible.   The physical characteristics of a room can make it easier or harder to hear.  For example, choose restaurants with better lighting or meeting rooms with carpeted floors and acoustic ceiling tiles that reduce the echo (or reverberation) in a room.
  • Pay attention to the conversation.  
    It is easier to understand a conversation context than to understand a statement that has no background to help you know what it is about.
  • Alert others to your hearing difficulty.  
    Speakers can use strategies to help you hear better as well, such as making sure they have your attention before they speak and giving you a clear view of their face.
  • Use closed captioning.
    Use closed captioning (CC) when you watch TV, movies, and online videos. Closed captioning can enhance your ability to understand the program.

Consider using hearing devices that can help you make the most out of the hearing you have.

  • Hearing Aids
    Hearing aids make sounds louder. They can be adjusted to work best for your specific hearing loss. Making sounds louder can make them easier to understand. However, hearing aids may also make background sounds louder. If you have a hearing loss that distorts sounds, a hearing aid will not make sounds clearer.
  • Assistive Listening Devices
    These devices help you hear sounds in specific everyday activities. Telephone amplifiers can make it easier to hear on the phone. A flashing or vibrating alarm clock can help you wake up in the morning. Loop, FM, and infrared systems can transmit sound to some types of earphones and certain hearing aids. They can help you hear television broadcasts, movies, and meetings in public places.
  • Cochlear Implants
    These devices are for people who have very severe hearing loss. They stimulate the auditory nerve directly. Surgery is required to insert them.
  • Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs)
    PSAPs allow people with normal hearing to hear better in specific situations. They might be used when hunting or bird-watching, for example, or to better hear a conversation or performance from a distance. PSAPs are not intended to compensate for hearing loss, and they are not individually programmed like hearing aids. However, they can be useful in some circumstances.

When it comes to discovering ways advocate for yourself when you have hearing loss, there are many ways to help empower you. Consider using these suggestions or research other ways to support yourself as you venture out to socialize and meet with people!

References:

What If I Already Have Hearing Loss? | NCEH | CDC

How to Communicate With a Senior Who Has Hearing Loss - AgingCare.com

Hearing Loss in Senior Citizens and What Can Help (completecareatlanta.com)

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