The ability to communicate is likely to be affected when a person has hearing difficulties. Communication is a basic need for all of us, so it is important to remember that good communication requires the efforts of at least two people. It is consequently very important that you play your part in ensuring optimum communication when you are together with hearing impaired people.
Becoming accustomed to hearing aids
It is a great advantage to have some knowledge about hearing aids when someone close to you is a hearing aid user. Many people commonly believe that hearing aids can completely restore people's hearing, but this is unfortunately an exaggeration. Hearing aids are an invaluable help to hearing impaired people, but first-time users usually need time to adjust. The overall sound of the world around them is changed, their own voice sounds different, and sounds that have been "lost" for years may now be heard again. It takes time to become accustomed to hearing aids, but the support of family members, friends and colleagues can make a big difference.
Some sounds are more difficult to hear than others
Hearing problems often manifest themselves as the inability to hear certain sounds, or the confusion of some sounds with others. People with a hearing loss may hear some of the words of a sentence, but fail to understand the spoken message. In such situations it can be a good idea to rephrase your sentences, as you might when communicating with someone from overseas who has not yet mastered English.
It is important to remember that any kind of background noise makes it much more difficult for a hearing aid user to communicate. As people do not generally want to appear to be a nuisance by asking favors, it helps considerably if you can remember to switch off any sources of noise, such as the radio or television, before communicating with a hearing impaired person. In situations where everyone is speaking at the same time (for example parties or restaurants) are situations where people with a hearing loss may tend to give up communicating. They appear to isolate themselves from the environment around them because of the difficulty in communicating.
Psychological consequences of hearing loss
Some people can develop emotional or social difficulties due to their hearing loss. The inability to understand what is being said can lead to isolation, loneliness or depression. It can therefore mean a great deal if the people around them are supportive and encourage them to seek professional advice if necessary. Some people with a hearing loss struggle with a feeling of embarrassment if they misunderstand what is being said, or respond inappropriately. Your support and understanding in such cases can make a big difference. People with hearing difficulties often spend a great deal of their energy just in concentrating on listening, which can lead to tiredness and stress. So it is important that friends and loved ones, as well as colleagues in the workplace, are equally understanding.