This is a question often asked of hearing aid users by a family member who has not been heard. It is typically asked when the speaker is in another room, at the top of the stairs, or is not facing the individual wearing the hearing aids.
Hearing aids are a positive step toward improving communication with others and can provide great benefit to individuals with hearing loss. Hearing aid success does require practice and patience on the part of the individual and those who communicate with him/her. Family members need to understand that hearing aids do not repair a hearing loss. Once fit with hearing aids, realistic expectations are the key to successfully communicating with an individual with hearing loss.
Some facts that hearing aid users and their families should understand include the following:
• A hearing aid microphone is most effective at picking up sound originating from several feet away from the hearing aid. The further you are from the sound source, the less effective the aid will work.
• A hearing aid is most effective when worn in quiet surroundings. More advanced circuits in hearing aids are now available to help reduce interference from background noise. However, despite this advanced technology, no hearing aid eliminates background noise completely.
• Even when wearing hearing aids, you will achieve the best communication by positioning yourself near the speaker in such a way that you can see his/her facial expressions and gestures. Visual information increases speech understanding by about 40%.
Suggestions for Family Members of a Hearing Impaired Person
- Develop an understanding of the hearing impaired person’s type and degree of hearing loss
- Understand that stress, illness and fatigue may make hearing more difficult.
- Speak naturally, and more slowly. Shouting is not always necessary or helpful. Loud volume does not equal clarity.
- Always face the hearing impaired person while speaking.
- Do not speak with a full mouth (food, gum, while smoking).
- Rephrase rather than repeat comments not understood by the listener.
- Be sure to initially obtain the hearing impaired person’s attention BEFORE introducing a topic of conversation.
- Favorable lighting will assist the hearing impaired person with speech reading cues.
- If possible, hold discussions away from background noise.
Patients and family members will be more satisfied with hearing aid usage when realistic expectations are in place.
York ENT audiologists provide a full range of hearing aid services and are happy to answer any questions regarding hearing aids. Please contact our office with any questions.