Proactive ways to communicate with people who have hearing loss

Communicating is the vital to all relationships, and when a friend or member of your family experiences hearing loss, it becomes crucial to adapt and find new ways to connect. As audiologists, we understand the challenges that come with hearing impairment and the importance of creating a supportive environment.  In this blog, we aim to suggest proactive ways to communicate with people who have hearing loss, enhancing understanding, empathy, and connection.

Understanding Hearing Loss

Before we delve into communication strategies, let’s briefly understand hearing loss. It’s essential to recognise that hearing impairment is not just about volume; it often involves difficulty understanding certain frequencies or distinguishing speech from background noise.

It’s important to recognise the level of hearing loss so that you can better understand it and make the adjustments that are personal to them. They may have additional needs that also need to be considered and a holistic approach would be easier for everyone.

This understanding will lay the foundation for the proactive communication approaches we’ll explore.

Create a Hearing-Friendly Environment

  1. Minimise Background Noise: Ensure that conversations take place in quiet environments. Background noise can be especially challenging for individuals with hearing loss, making it difficult for them to focus on and understand spoken words.
  2. Optimise Lighting: Good lighting helps in facial expressions and lip-reading. Make sure the area is well-lit, allowing your loved one to see your face clearly during conversations.
  3. Face-to-Face Communication: Position yourself in front of your family member when speaking to make lip-reading easier. Maintaining eye contact enhances the connection and provides visual cues.

Embrace Assistive Technology

  1. Hearing Aids: If your loved one uses hearing aids, encourage consistent usage. Regularly check the devices to ensure they are functioning correctly and assist in changing batteries or troubleshooting issues.
  2. Assisted Listening Devices: The use of simple devices such as personal mics, tv connectors and table top mics allow shared activities such as watching TV, communicating with loved ones, meeting friends for coffee much easier. This not only ensures comprehension but also allows everyone to enjoy the experience together.
  3. Smartphone Apps: Explore communication apps designed for individuals with hearing loss. These apps can provide real-time transcription and facilitate text-based communication, enhancing accessibility.

More proactive ways to communicate with people who have hearing loss, enhancing understanding, empathy, and connection…

Develop Clear Communication Habits

  1. Speak Clearly and Slowly: Enunciate your words and speak at a moderate pace. Avoid shouting, as it can distort speech and make it harder to understand.
  2. Rephrase Instead of Repeat: If your loved one struggles to grasp a particular phrase or sentence, try rephrasing instead of repeating the same words. This provides a fresh context that might be easier to comprehend.
  3. Use Visual Aids: Incorporate visual aids, such as written notes, diagrams, or gestures, to support verbal communication. Visual cues can provide additional context and assist in understanding.

Foster Open Communication

  1. Encourage Feedback: Create an environment where your loved one feels comfortable providing feedback on communication. This ensures a collaborative effort to find the most effective ways to interact.
  2. Check-In Regularly: Hearing abilities can change over time. Regularly check in with your family member about their hearing experiences and explore any adjustments that may be needed.
  3. Educate Others: Help friends and extended family members understand the challenges of hearing loss and the communication strategies you’re implementing. This promotes a supportive environment for your loved one.

Be Mindful of Emotional Well-being

  1. Acknowledge Frustrations: Understand that your loved one may experience frustration due to communication difficulties. Acknowledge these feelings, and work together to find solutions and coping mechanisms.
  2. Encourage Social Inclusion: Individuals with hearing loss may withdraw from social situations due to the challenges they face. Encourage participation in family gatherings and social events, ensuring they feel included and valued. Please read our blog about “How Hearing Well Can Make You a Bigger Part of Your Community“.
  3. Seek Professional Support: If the emotional impact becomes significant, consider seeking the guidance of a mental health professional who specialises in hearing loss-related issues.  Hearing Link Services is a charity which will be able to signpost you.

Navigating the challenges of communication with a friend or family member experiencing hearing loss requires a thoughtful and proactive approach. By creating a hearing-friendly environment, embracing assistive technology, developing clear communication habits, fostering open communication, and being mindful of emotional well-being, you can strengthen your connection with your loved one.

Remember, each individual’s experience with hearing loss is unique, so it’s essential to tailor these strategies to suit their specific needs. By implementing these approaches and staying informed about the latest technologies and developments in hearing care, you can create a supportive and communicative environment that enhances the overall well-being of your family member.

Have you ever experienced discomfort, impaired hearing, or a constant ringing sensation in your ears? It’s possible that excess ear wax build up could be the culprit! Ear wax, while essential for protecting our ears, can sometimes accumulate and cause various issues – and there are many benefits of getting ear wax removed by a Hearing Care Professional.

GPs are no longer offering this service and we want to educate you as to why you should be careful as to who now removes your ear wax. Ear wax removal is being offered by both healthcare and non-healthcare professionals due to lack of regulation. Although they may be competent in their own area of expertise, they provide ear wax removal as an additional service after attending a basic one or two day course and then immediately removing earwax from a clients very delicate ears.

In comparison, our Hearing Care Assistants undertake a comprehensive 3 month course and are under the direct supervision of our expert audiologists, undertaking further ongoing training at The Audiology Academy when required.

We want to inform and educate about the benefits of getting ear wax removed by a Hearing Care Professional – which is not as straight forward as many people consider it to be.

  1. Safe and Effective Removal – While many people resort to at-home remedies or DIY techniques for clearing ear wax, it’s crucial to understand the potential risks involved. Inserting objects like cotton swabs or makeshift tools into your ears can often push the wax further, leading to complications. Opting for a hearing care professional ensures a safe and effective removal process, reducing the probability of accidental damage to your ears. This damage could be permanent or extremely painful with the non-hearing care professional unable to offer further support or advice.
  2. Restored Hearing – Excessive ear wax can cause temporary hearing loss or reduced sound clarity. Seeking professional help ensures that your hearing is accurately tested and the root cause evaluated. A hearing care professional uses specialized equipment and techniques to remove the ear wax, allowing us to then test your hearing accurately without obstruction. This leads to a significant improvement in your hearing ability, enhancing your overall quality of life and communication.
  3. Prevention of Complications – Ignoring ear wax build up can lead to severe complications if left untreated. Impacted ear wax can cause pain, dizziness, and tinnitus (ringing sound in the ears). Moreover, it can create an ideal environment for bacterial infections, resulting in discomfort and potential further damage. By visiting a hearing care professional, you can prevent these complications and maintain healthy ears.
  4. Expert Guidance and Advice – Hearing care professionals are well-versed in the complexities of ear anatomy and function. During your visit, they can assess your overall ear health, provide personalized advice on maintaining optimal ear hygiene, and guide you on preventing excessive ear wax build up. Their expertise ensures that you receive accurate information and professional recommendations tailored to your specific needs.
  5. Care for Hearing Aids Users – For those who use hearing aids, ear wax can pose an even greater challenge. Accumulation of wax can interfere with the proper functioning of the devices, leading to diminished performance, feedback and discomfort. A hearing care professional not only removes the ear wax but also ensures that your hearing aids are in top condition, maximizing their effectiveness.

What to look for when seeking a qualified hearing care professional for your ear wax removal

It is very confusing when searching for an ear wax removal specialist in your local area and so this is a basic checklist for you to use

  • Do they have a dedicated hearing or ear clinic with the necessary equipment to fulfil any hearing related issue that may occur when removing your ear wax? Our clinics are recognised as Centres of Excellence by AIHHP (Association of Independent Hearing Healthcare Professionals)
  • What qualifications do they hold? As a minimum standard, we recommend that they hold an earcare qualification provided by a reputable, accredited institution. All of our practitioners are either HCAs or fully qualified HCPC registered audiologists, well above the minimum standard.
  • What level of insurance do they hold specifically for ear wax removal?
  • What other services do they offer? If someone is offering other health related services – such as foot health practitioners. Chiropractors or sports therapy – they may have a basic understanding of ear wax removal but can they competently recognise other hearing issues?
You may also want to read our blog –What To Look For When Choosing a Hearing Company

Conclusion

Maintaining healthy ears is crucial for our overall well-being, and seeking professional help for ear wax removal is a step in the right direction. By relying on a hearing care professional, you can ensure safe and effective removal, restored hearing, prevention of complications, and access to expert guidance. Don’t let ear wax affect your daily life – take the necessary steps to maintain healthy ears and enjoy the benefits of optimal hearing!

Cycle lanes are becoming more common and we’re all encouraged to cycle rather than drive. But what if you have difficulty with your balance as a result of hearing loss? How does hearing loss affect your balance and bicycle riding?

As we go about our daily lives, we may not always think about the intricate ways our senses collaborate to keep us safe and balanced. We rely on a symphony of signals from our eyes, ears, and proprioceptive system to maintain stability. It might be a surprising revelation, but our ears play a crucial role in this system.  We strongly recommend that anyone who has a hearing aid should wear it all the time – read here for more information.

Understanding the Inner Ear’s Role:
To grasp the connection between hearing loss and balance, it’s essential to learn a bit about the inner ear’s marvellous mechanism. Deep inside our ears, there are small, delicate structures called the vestibular system. This system is responsible for detecting motion and changes in head position, thus enabling us to maintain equilibrium.

The vestibular system works in harmony with our visual system, helping us gauge our orientation relative to the environment around us. For instance, when we ride a bicycle, our ears help us maintain balance by detecting shifts in movement and coordinating that information with what we see and feel.

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Balance:
Hearing loss, even if it appears mild at first, can disrupt the communication between the ears and the brain. This disconnection can hinder the vestibular system’s ability to accurately detect motion and balance-related cues. As a result, those with hearing impairment might experience a slight, yet impactful, decrease in balance control.

Research suggests that individuals with hearing loss may rely more heavily on their visual and proprioceptive systems to compensate for the compromised vestibular input. While this adaptation can be effective to some extent, it may not provide the same level of balance control experienced by those with fully functional hearing.

Keep reading – How Does Hearing Loss Affect Your Balance and Bicycle Riding?

The Bicycle Connection:
As we circle back to the subject of bicycle riding, you might now understand how hearing loss could play a role in this seemingly unrelated activity. Riding a bicycle requires a fine-tuned coordination of balance, especially when navigating through obstacles, making turns, or adjusting speed. When hearing loss affects the delicate balance mechanism, it can lead to difficulties in maintaining the necessary equilibrium for a smooth ride.

However, there is some good news! With increased awareness, the right support, and a proactive approach, those with hearing loss can continue to enjoy the thrill of cycling.

Seeking Solutions and Embracing Technology:
If you suspect you might have hearing loss or have already been diagnosed, it’s crucial to consult Hear In, a professional audiology practice, for a comprehensive evaluation. We offer free hearing assessments, without obligation, to establish your level of hearing.

We can then suggest appropriate interventions, such as hearing aids, to improve your auditory experience if you need them. It could be as simple as removing ear wax!

Hearing aids have come a long way in recent years. Advanced technology now allows for better sound processing and filtering, reducing background noise and enhancing speech clarity. By wearing hearing aids, you can potentially improve your balance by regaining better access to auditory cues and enhancing your overall sensory perception.

Furthermore, some hearing aids even come with features like Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to wirelessly connect to your smartphone or bicycle accessories, such as GPS systems or communication devices. Embracing these technological advancements can help you enjoy your rides more safely and confidently.

The Power of Adaptation:
Like with any challenge in life, adapting to changes is the key to unlocking new possibilities. While hearing loss may influence your balance, it doesn’t have to prevent you from riding a bicycle. Start with short, safe rides in familiar settings to build your confidence. Consider riding with a friend or family member who can provide additional support and reassurance.  There are specific cycling clubs if you want to ride with people who are also hard of hearing.

Always remember that it’s essential to prioritise safety and follow traffic rules. Wear a helmet, use reflective gear, and equip your bicycle with proper lights for visibility. Taking these precautions will ensure you can enjoy your bicycle rides while feeling secure.

In conclusion, hearing loss and balance may have a hidden connection, but it doesn’t have to hold you back from the joys of cycling. Visit us for professional guidance, embrace technology, and adapt to new strategies. By doing so, you can pedal into the sunset and experience the wind in your hair with newfound confidence, all while cherishing the simple pleasure of riding a bicycle. Happy cycling!

If you’re suffering with hearing loss, you’re not alone. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 1.5 billion people live with hearing issues. The WHO predicts that this could rise to over 2.5 billion by 2050. Why? Because more people are neglecting their hearing health. But choosing a hearing company can help you do something about it. Here are some tips for choosing the right audiologist.

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Definitely. You should wear hearing aids as much as you can during your daily routine. It can sometimes take your brain a few months to adjust to hearing devices. To get the best out of them, you need to wear them regularly. Sure, they take some getting used to. But you got them to help with your hearing, not to sit on the bedside table.

What You Need To Know

  • Hearing aids are designed for regular wear. Use them as part of your daily routine
  • Having said that, don’t wear hearing aids when showering, swimming or an activity that creates excess noise – like drying your hair (unless your aids are designed for this)
  • Remember to charge your hearing aids when you’re not wearing them. They’re no good to you without battery power
  • Hearing aids can last a number of years but typically wearers look to replace their hearing aids at around 4 or 5 years
  • Wearing two hearing aids is better than wearing one

Why Should You Wear Hearing Aids All The Time?

To Improve Your Quality of Life

Stimulating your brain with great hearing can really improve your quality of life. With hearing loss you have to concentrate on everyday conversation, TV etc… significantly more than someone with normal hearing. This can be extremely tiring.

Often, people with hearing loss will turn the TV up to an uncomfortable level for others with little improvement for themselves as volume doesn’t always mean clarity.

The right hearing solution can make things sharper and clearer without the need for more volume and keep the neighbours happy.

Prevent Other Illnesses

There are a lot of studies and content circulating about hearing loss and its association with other illnesses, the most concerning of which is cognitive decline.

According to an Oxford University study in 2021, those people with hearing loss are more likely to develop cognitive decline (Alzheimer’s or Dementia). With this in mind, don’t underestimate how important your hearing aids are to your general health and mental well-being.

Good for Your Social Life

Not only do hearing aids give you a better quality of life physically, but they make your social life easier too. Don’t let hearing loss steal the joy of conversations with friends and family. If you don’t wear your hearing aids, you might miss part of the discussion and find yourself asking people to repeat themselves. This can get awkward.

It can cause you to withdraw into yourself and exclude yourself socially, which can lead to other health problems.

Equally, you might be thinking to yourself ‘I’d never wear my hearing aids in a social setting’, but there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. There are plenty of stylish hearing devices that are completely discreet or look like a great fashion accessory.

I Can Just Wear One Hearing Aid, Right?

You can if you’re only experiencing hearing loss in one ear and your other ear is functioning normally. However, hearing loss is more common in both ears, especially if it’s age related. For the brain to separate speech from noise it really needs information coming from both sides.

Aren’t Hearing Aids Uncomfortable to Wear?

They can sometimes take a little getting used to for sure. However, choosing the right hearing aid provider will play a big part in getting the best solution for you. Hearing aids are a life adjustment, but in the pursuit of preserving your hearing for years to come, they are worth it for your well-being.

Think you could benefit from hearing aids? Use our fast, online hearing screener to test how well you’re hearing. Try it now.