Alex O'Brien

Hearing

Managing hearing loss is more than getting hearing aids

Managing hearing loss is more than getting hearing aids

These days, people are paying a bit more attention to hearing loss, and how to manage it.

This is great news for me, because as a hearing therapist, as I know that one in six people have hearing loss but many do not take action – or wait a very long time to finally get some help.

Our Ministry of Health funded hearing therapy service is free and I would love to see more people getting in touch for the advice and support we offer.

Hearing loss doesn't automatically mean you need a hearing aid. Your needs will depend on the extent of the loss and how it affects your daily life – this is what a hearing therapist will help work with you on as part of our service.

Hearing aids could well be a solution, but there are other things people don't always think about that can help, like developing good communication strategies and tactics to help cope with your listening environment.

It is important to identify the conditions that make hearing a challenge for you. There are lots of strategies you can adopt that will improve everyday situations that are challenging for those who have hearing loss – some are obvious, and others not so obvious.

Hearing therapy sessions are tailored to each individual, and target issues unique to each person.

Talking on the phone can be really challenging for some people.  Simple, practical strategies such as using the speaker phone, turning up the volume, or changing the tone can make a difference.

Sometimes a person with hearing loss needs to have the television volume turned right up, which can be really frustrating for other family members.  Now there are all sorts of wireless headsets available that give really good results by allowing people to choose the volume they need.

One of the most successful strategies is to ask other people to help. Educate others about the best ways to communicate with you.

People won't necessarily know that you have a hearing loss.  Let them know to make sure they have your attention first before speaking.

Face-to-face conversation is also important, especially for those who rely on watching lip movements, and encourage clear, slow speech. If you have trouble understanding what is being said, ask good clarifying questions or ask the speaker to rephrase their words, not just repeat them.

Remember that communication involves two people.  Successful communication is not just about the listener.  It requires the speaker to deliver a good, clear message.

Sometimes this component gets a little overlooked.  Rather than having a conversation around a corner or through walls, go over to the person you want to talk with.

A nice little motto is "the person doing the talking does the walking". 

Written by Tanya Shearer, first appeared on Stuff.co.nz.

Related links:

Revolutionary apps for people with hearing loss

What people did before hearing aids

Negative feelings can affect hearing