My husband and I were in the kitchen together making dinner. Food was sizzling on the stove, music was playing in the background, the water was running, and my husband asked me a question. Needless to say, I answered his question incorrectly as I had not understood what he said. My guess is that this scenario paints an all too familiar picture to a majority of individuals while conversing with their loved ones, especially for those who have a hearing loss. When an individual wearing hearing aids experiences an incident such as this, it is frustrating, and it can be easy to use the hearing aids as a scapegoat, claiming that they are ineffective.
However, it is not necessarily the hearing aids at fault, though a convenient culprit they make!
I like to imagine the audiologic treatment plan as a pie. Hearing aids make up 75% of that pie. We absolutely cannot have a treatment and management plan without them when a hearing loss exists. They are the lifeblood of good hearing care, and they are imperative to hearing and well-being. However, the unsung heroes of the story of effective communication, the remaining 25% sliver of that pie, are our good communication strategies. These strategies are vital for all conversations, for individuals with hearing loss and even for those without.
So what do we mean by “good communication strategies” and what can we all implement into our daily conversational exchanges to help with the ease of understanding? Some quick tips include minimizing the background noise, looking directly at the individual to whom you are speaking (don’t talk while walking away from your communication partner, don’t talk to them from a different room), speak in well-lit environments (we all subconsciously lip-read to supplement visually what we are missing auditorily) and finally slow down and speak up! By no means do we need to yell, but speaking at a slightly elevated volume can help in a big way.
These are some easy and practical tips from which we can all benefit when communicating with our dear ones. Next time a conversation road-block presents itself, try one of these suggestions to find an alternate communication route.