Hearing loss is a very widespread and common condition that may affect anyone regardless of age, gender or occupation. Although, there are specific determining factors that contribute to the degree and time of occurrence, sometimes it is congenital or due to progressive age and all that can be done is to save residual hearing with the use of hearing aids or find alternative methods of communication.
Hearing loss in the UK
Millions of people in the UK suffer from some degree of hearing loss and the most worrying fact is that this condition is expected to affect a larger amount of people in the near future. Currently, there are more than 10 million people in the UK both hard of hearing and completely deaf. Almost 4 million are of working age and 6.4 million are seniors. According to research reported by Action on Hearing Loss, by 2031, hearing loss in the UK will manifest in around 14.5 million people and will surpass diseases such as cataract and diabetes.
Learning to cope with hearing loss and pursuing everyday tasks is challenging for many hard of hearing. Although, there is an abundance of information and a number of organisations, which aim to provide the needed help and assistance, those with hearing impairment may feel isolated or misunderstood or face communication problems with other people, especially if the opposite party is unaware of the condition.
It is extremely important to be supportive, patient and understanding with anyone, who has hearing loss and try to lead as normal communication process as possible with them. To help someone you know manage their hearing disability as easily as possible, you can assist them in several ways:
- Attempt to understand the exact condition and severity of hearing loss.
- Help in getting or obtaining more information about hearing aids or assistive hearing devices that can improve hearing ability. While hearing aids do not restore normal hearing, they greatly help the hard of hearing and give them more options for socialising. Moreover, with the various devices such as amplified phones, doorbells, loud alarm clocks or induction loops, they will be able carry out many daily activities without relying on external help and thus retain or regain their independence in everyday tasks.
- Support them in going to regular hearing checks and protecting residual hearing.
- Know which is the good ear and position yourself the proper way when talking in order to be heard better.
- When possible avoid noisy places.
- Speak clearly and in a normal tone, do not shout. Shouting distorts sounds and facial expressions.
- Make sure there is sufficient light in the room.
- Do not cover your face or mouth when talking.
- Use short simple sentences.
- Rephrase your sentences if not understood or replace certain words that are long or difficult to pronounce.
- Write down additional information if needed.
- Be patient and do not allow yourself to become frustrated that will have negative effect on the communication process and often offends the person who has a hearing problem.
In addition, if the hearing loss is profound, using sign language along with lip reading can be very beneficial for both parties. Learning the language together, can help you both improve communication and share yet another aspect of your relationship.