Hearing loss can be a problem for the whole family, not just the individual. Below are a few strategies that can help with effective communication at home:
- Maintain eye contact : Face the speaker and maintain eye contact. Facial expressions and body language add vital information to communication
- Gain attention: Gain the listener’s attention before you begin talking. If the person with hearing loss hears better from one ear, move to that side of the person.
- Keep hands away from face: When talking, try to keep your hands a way from your face. You will produce clearer speech and allow the listener to make use of those visual cues.
- Speak naturally: Speak distinctly, but without exaggeration. You do not need to shout. Shouting may actually distort the words. Try not to mumble. Speak at a normal rate, not too fast or too slow. Use pauses rather than slow speech to give the person time to process what you are saying.
- Rephrase rather than repeat: If the listener has difficulty understanding something you said, find a different way of saying it. If he or she did not understand the words the first time, it’s likely he or she will not understand the words the second time.
- Converse away from background noise: Try to reduce background noise if possible. Turn off radio or television. Move to a quiet space away from the noise source. When going to a restaurant, ask for a table away from the kitchen, server stations, or large parties.
- Move to an area with good lighting: Sit where there is good lighting so that your face can be more easily seen. Avoid strong lighting coming from behind you, such as through a window.
Becoming More Successful With Your CI
One of the most important steps in the cochlear implant process is rehabilitation. Research studies demonstrate that patients adjust more quickly and achieve greater overall success when they actively participate in a rehabilitation program. Rehabilitation with a cochlear implant can be done at home with computer based programs and listening exercises with family members or in a more formal setting with an auditory verbal therapist.
After a cochlear implant is activated it is important to complete listening exercises to help teach the brain how to listen with a cochlear implant. Immediately following activation, speech often sounds strange and unclear; this is because sound is being delivered to the brain through electrical stimulation (versus acoustic stimulation). The brain must adjust to this new way of receiving sound input. This process of “brain acclimatization” can be greatly impacted by the amount of effort put into the rehabilitation stage. Imagine never completing physical therapy after a knee or hip replacement; it would be very difficulty to walk effectively and progress may be much slower. Fortunately there are many resources available for patients to help them with their “listening therapy’. Each cochlear implant company offers an abundance of support and activities intended to help the brain acclimate to listening with a cochlear implant.
Cochlear’s Communication Corner offers specially designed activities for every age group from young children to older adults. Each group offers activities that range in difficulty to allow you to tailor you rehabilitation process to your specific needs. They also offer a Music program to help you enjoy the sounds of music again. In addition Cochlear has a telephone program called “Telephone with Confidence”. This program allows you to practice listening on the telephone through guided activities.
Follow this link: http://www.cochlear.com/wps/wcm/connect/us/communication-corner
The Listening Room:
Advanced Bionics’ The Listening Room provides numerous listening activities for people of all ages. Activates vary in difficulty and are labeled as beginner, intermediate or advanced to allow you to work through hearing skills at your own pace. The activities can be completed with a listening partner or done independently. Lessons are designed to improve speech understanding as well as increase music appreciation.
Follow this link: https://thelisteningroom.com/
BRIDGE to Better Communication:
MED EL’s BRIDGE program contains listening exercises for various age groups. The activities for adults focus on sentence recognition. The recorded activities can be done independently and allow the listener to vary how the sentences are presented to mimic more ‘real world’ scenarios. There are also activities that can be completed with a partner. Suggestions are given on how to increase the difficulty of the task to ensure the listener continues to make progress once a particular skill is mastered.
Follow this link: http://www.medel.com/us/soundscape/#prettyPhoto
Do I need a hearing aid?
This is a question that the audiologists and physicians hear every day at The Hearing Center and JHBI. Let’s take a look at what matters (and what doesn’t!) when it comes to making that decision.
The first step to deciding whether or not it’s time to try hearing aids will depend on your hearing loss. Hearing aids can be programmed to fit all different degrees and configurations of hearing loss, from mild to profound. However, you have to keep in mind that what your hearing loss looks like will greatly affect your outcome with amplification. For example, patients that have very little usable hearing left may be better suited to a cochlear implant. Patients with middle ear problems may want to try a bone-anchored hearing device. So how do you know what’s right for you? That’s an easy one to answer- you just have to ask an audiologist. Come in for a hearing aid consult. If hearing aids aren’t the correct choice for you, we promise to guide you to whatever is.
Most people with hearing loss know that they have trouble hearing. In fact, that is usually what drove them to get a hearing test in the first place. However, even with severe hearing loss, some people will deny any hearing difficulties. Hearing aids are a process that involve both commitment and work on the part of the new user, so that person has to be invested in a positive outcome. In other words, it is important that you feel like you have something to gain from wearing a hearing aid. If you are convinced that you are not having any difficulty hearing, it will be hard to justify using hearing aids. Keep in mind, though, that sometimes it is actually the people you are talking to that take the brunt of a hearing loss. Are they frequently repeating or speaking up so that you can be apart of the conversation? Look to those closest to you for honest opinions about how they are affected by your hearing difficulties. If they are expressing frustration, that might be a reason to consider trying hearing aids.
Hearing aids are for people with hearing loss, no matter their age. It does not matter at all how old you are- If you have a hearing problem, it is time to consider a hearing aid. Please do not wait until you reach a certain age to start considering a hearing aid.
It’s okay to be worried about what a hearing aid will look like. We are all human, and we want to present our most confident self to the world. For some people, it’s scary to think about what a hearing aid will look like. The good news is that we have come a long way from the large devices that used to be the industry standard. Most styles are nearly invisible these days. Depending on your ear canal size and hearing loss, your audiologist can guide you into the most discrete style possible.
For many people, the price of hearing aids can be very intimidating. At JHBI, we offer different levels of hearing aids at varying prices to meet the needs of everyone that comes through our door. We also have some financing options that may help. We encourage you to come in and see what we have to offer and talk about what your budget allows. Even if a hearing aid isn’t an option for you currently, we may be able to find some ways to help you hear better that are within reach.
For more information on hearing aids, click on the following link: https://www.betterhearingjax.com/hearing-technology/our-hearing-aids/
Communication is an essential aspect to everyday life. Unfortunately, hearing loss can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to communicate. Hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices can provide help in certain listening situations, but difficulties can still exist. Communication strategies, along with consistent use of amplification, can be utilized for greater ease of understanding and fewer communication breakdowns. Both the speaker and listener in a conversation can contribute to better understanding for the hearing impaired listener. Below are a few strategies that can help with effective communication:
1.) Face the speaker
Seeing the speaker’s face and being able to read facial cues can significantly improve speech understanding. Even if you don’t think you can lip read, everyone uses visual cues to enhance their auditory signal. If someone is speaking to you from another room, ask them to please come into the same room and ask their question again. When attending a lecture, sit close to the speaker so you are able to see their face. Remind your communication partner to get your attention before asking a question or beginning a conversation.
2.) Minimize background noise (when possible)
Try to eliminate or minimize background noise when having a conversation. This means turning off the television or extraneous noise sources when communicating. You can also try to move to a quiet space away from the noise source. When going to a restaurant, ask for a table away from the kitchen, server stations, or large parties.
3.) Identify the things in your listening environment you can or cannot change
There are many things in our listening environment that affect the way we hear or understand. These factors range from characteristics about the speaker, to characteristics about the environment, to characteristics of us, as listeners. For example, in our listening environment, we may not be able to change the lighting or acoustics of a room, but we may be able to change our seating or angle of vision. Below is a list of factors that affect understanding. In any given situation, identify the things that may improve your ability to listen, and act towards changing these factors that can be controlled or improved.
4.) Advocate for yourself
The ability to ask for the changes you need to hear better is something that comes more naturally to some than others. Asking a person to speak more slowly or more clearly can be helpful. It may also involve asking for a table in a private room at a restaurant, or asking to switch seats with someone when seeing a show. Many times, your communication partner wants to help you hear them better, but they don’t know what they can do to make it easier.
5.) Make a plan
If you know you are going out to eat at a particularly busy restaurant, plan your meal time accordingly. Try to eat during an off time so there is less competing background noise. Call ahead of time to reserve a more private room that may help control background noise. Arrive early for your meal so you can pick the best spot for understanding. Sit away from sources of noise, like the kitchen area or music speaker.
6.) Utilize repair strategies
Communication breakdowns can happen in any conversation. Repair strategies can be utilized to minimize communication breakdowns and continue with the conversation seamlessly. The most common response when a message is not understood is to say, “What?” The problem with saying, “What?” is that it does not give the speaker any information about what you missed, or what you need them to do to help you understand better. It may even lead them to repeat the entire message in the exact same way, leading to the same result. Instead of saying, “What?” when you don’t hear what someone said, be specific about what you need that person to do. For example, tell them to “please repeat what [they] said, more slowly.” Or, if you understood one part of the sentence, tell the person the part you understood, but ask for clarification on the part you missed. Another helpful strategy when trying to understand a telephone number or address is to repeat back each number as it is said to avoid a mistake in the middle of the series of numbers. These strategies may help minimize the breakdowns in communication, and reduce the amount of time spent on clarification.
It is most advantageous when both parties within a conversation work together to have a successful and meaningful discussion. This requires understanding and flexibility on the part of the speaker or speakers, but also the willingness of the listener to express his or her needs.
If you or someone you know is having communication difficulties, contact The Hearing Center at JHBI at 904-399-0350 ext 246 or click here to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive hearing evaluation and to meet with an Audiologist to better discuss your listening needs.