One of our customers recently wrote to us to thank us for the hearing aids they were able to afford through our program: “Without being able to hear, my husband became isolated & resentful,” she said. “He simply quit socializing or joining any volunteer opportunities….Our marriage suffered greatly.” However, after getting hearing aids, their lives and marriage changed dramatically, she writes:
“His quality of life is returning, but it’s actually two lives you’ve saved; his and mine!”
In many of our customer’s stories, we hear about the strain that hearing loss can create on relationships. Addressing hearing loss with hearing aids is often the first step to improving those relationships—but it doesn’t stop there.
Acknowledging hearing loss and learning how to communicate better with hearing aids can make an incredible difference in the relationships you have with your family, friends, and coworkers. Here are three strategies we’ve found that can greatly improve your relationships after getting hearing aids.
1. Tell People About Your Hearing Aids
Although many first-time hearing aid wearers don’t want to broadcast that they have hearing aids, telling people you wear hearing aids will change their perception of you—for the better.
Before getting hearing aids, many hearing loss sufferers report that people often perceive them as aloof or distant. Usually this misconception is a result of the fact that someone with hearing loss simply didn’t hear a question or didn’t know they were being spoken to. Even after getting hearing aids, these misunderstandings can happen.
When you are open and honest about wearing hearing aids, others are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt and make sure you’ve heard them before rushing to judgment. Additionally, opening up about hearing aids can spark a discussion about how you can best communicate with each other.
2. Give Advice on the Best Ways to Communicate
Once you’ve let someone know you wear hearing aids, you can improve your communication with them by letting them know the most effective ways to talk with you. For example:
Ask them to look at you when they are talking
Communication is made up of more than just the words we speak. The expression on someone’s face and the shape of their mouth as they talk can aid your understanding beyond simply hearing the words they speak.
Additionally, most hearing aids are designed to focus on sound coming from directly in front of you. When your partner is conversing with you face-to-face, the hearing aids will pick up their voice more effectively. If your hearing aids pick up your partner’s voice better, you’ll be able to hear more clearly and communicate more effectively.
Ask them to get your attention
There are many sounds going on around us all the time and, even with hearing aids, it’s not always apparent where specific sounds are coming from. Simply asking your friends and family to get your attention before talking to you can prevent misunderstandings. For example, ask them to tap you gently on the shoulder before talking, or tell them to say your name to get your attention and make sure you’ve made eye contact with them before starting a conversation.
Suggest moving to a better location
If all else fails, and you’re still unable to communicate clearly with someone, simply ask to move your conversation to a place with less noise. When you ask someone to move to somewhere more convenient for listening, you show them you care about them and the conversation you’re having. Whereas trying to “get through” a difficult listening environment may make your partner feel like you’re not paying attention or you don’t care about what they have to say. Moving the conversation somewhere quieter isn’t an inconvenience; it’s a sign that you are actively engaged in what the other person has to say.
3. Continue to Improve Your Communication Strategies
Lastly, if you want to ensure that you’re communicating to the best of your ability, continue to work on and improve your communication strategies.
Talk with your provider about aural rehabilitation strategies that may help you better understand speech. Also, look into speech reading classes that may help you increase your understanding during conversations.
Another effective strategy is to use hearing aid accessories. Accessories, like remote microphones and Bluetooth streaming devices, can help you hear better in a range of situations, like crowded places, restaurants, meetings, or when talking on the phone.
Communication Is a Two-way Street
Putting hearing aids in for the first time marks the start of improving your hearing. The next step is improving your relationships with others through better communication. Simply telling people about your hearing loss, communicating your needs, and improving your own strategies can go a long way toward improving relationships with everyone around you.