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In the United States, approximately 15% of adults over age 18 report some trouble hearing. That denotes about 37.5 million adults, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service. Being hard of hearing or deaf can be caused by environmental factors or genetic factors. Sometimes deafness is present at birth. For others, it can develop gradually over time or is caused by damage from things like exposure to high levels of sound or from an injury. Aging is also a strong factor in loss of hearing for older adults. Data from 2008 showed that more than 25 million adults who reported hearing difficulties did not use a hearing aid.
For an individual who wants to hear and communicate through spoken language, a hearing aid can be a useful tool. It’s important to remember that a hearing aid or other hearing assisting device is not a magical fix. It’s simply a tool that amplifies sound to enable someone to hear better or more effectively. There are also many reasons why an individual would choose to not use a hearing aid or other device: hearing aids can be expensive, hearing aids aren’t strong enough for every person (sound can become distorted when it is amplified to very high levels), hearing aids might feel uncomfortable or awkward, the individual prefers to communicate through American Sign Language (ASL), etc. Regardless, a commonality we all share as humans is the need for language and the need to be able to use language to communicate our desires and needs. Effective communication is an essential part of life. We’ve collected a handful of tips for better communication during shelter-in-place, and for regular daily life, too:
- Communicate face-to-face when possible: Wait until the speaker is in the same room with you. Ask them to face you while speaking
- Don’t pretend to understand: Let the person speaking know that you are having difficulty hearing and/or understand them. Ask them to speak slower and articulate their words
- Remove distractions: put down the smartphone, turn off the tv, and eliminate unnecessary background noise
- Useful technology: Enable closed-captioning on your television, use headphones with noise canceling capabilities, if you wear hearing aids ask your audiologist if yours have Bluetooth capability to stream phone calls and/or connect to other devices
- Consider learning some basic ASL with your circle of community. Signs for the restroom, water, thirsty, hungry, food, help, etc are easy to learn. It may seem awkward at first, but ASL is a full language that can fill in gaps when you aren’t able to hear as well as you used to
- Take listening breaks. This level takes extra energy and concentration, and it can be exhausting. Dedicate small chunks of time throughout your day to relax and recharge.
- Speak up for yourself: there are laws in place to allow communication access for hard of hearing and deaf individuals. Often it’s just a matter of asking to be accommodated
Be Active Be Well can assist you with speech therapy and other needs. Please contact us for more information. We are here to help you communicate well and live your best life.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.