Getting the most out of your hearing aids means managing your own and others’ expectations about what your hearing aids can and cannot do. Communication is key to helping others understand your hearing loss, which will allow everyone to work together to get the biggest benefit from your hearing aids.
Despite the ability of your hearing aids to enhance your life and help maximize your ability to hear, they are not supersonic listening devices.
Even people with normal hearing will have trouble hearing the TV or talking to friends in a crowded restaurant from time to time. But many of the people around you may be under the impression that your hearing aids make you hear like a Golden Retriever. Be ready to set the expectation that—although your hearing aids are helpful—there are still situations when you can’t hear as well as those around you.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Be open about your hearing aids. Make sure your friends and family know you are wearing hearing aids. Being up front makes it easier for everyone to communicate. If they’re aware of what’s going on, they’re more likely to be respectful and attentive to your hearing needs.
Be direct. There’s no reason to be ashamed of your hearing aids! Using best practices for hearing aid wearers only makes communication more effective and easier for everyone. For example, ask people to:
- Look at you when they’re talking
- Slow down if they’re talking too fast
- “Rephrase” instead of “repeat” what they just said
Additionally, if you find yourself in an environment with too much background noise, you can always ask to move your conversation to a quieter location.
Be aware of your surroundings. If possible, take control of your physical surroundings. For example, arrange your living room so that people will naturally sit across from you rather than next to you. In business settings, arrange your workspace so that people sit directly in front of you when they come into your office. Also, try and get to meetings a minute or two early so you can make sure to sit near the front of the room and have the best chance at hearing everything.
Don’t forget: better hearing will result from a combination of the right devices and the right strategies for communication. Combined, you should increase your likelihood of understanding everything going on around you.