Thanksgiving is here and the holidays are around the corner! ‘Tis the season for seeing friends and gathering together with those we care about most. This is always an exciting time of the year, but if you have a hearing loss, being part of a busy, social gathering and communicating with others can be difficult and you may feel as if you are missing out on some of the conversation. If you have a hearing loss and notice people sound unclear, or as if they are mumbling while speaking, a hearing test is strongly recommended. The good news is hearing tests are often complimentary! If you have hearing aids, be sure they are working in proper order prior to the festivities, and keep the following simple tips in mind to help you communicate better at the dinner table. Don’t forget to pass these tips along to your loved ones too!
If you have hearing loss, be sure to face the person you are speaking to.
Hearing aids work best when the user is facing the person they are communicating with. This is because the microphones in the hearing aids work to amplify the strongest speech signal and decrease surrounding noise. Facing the person you are speaking with will also make it easier for you to focus on the conversation better, while also allowing you to use visual cues to understand what is being said better. If you do not wear hearing aids and find you struggle in these situations more than before, it might be time for a hearing test. Hearing tests are complimentary if you are over 65 at The Hearing Room!
Adequate lighting is important for lip reading.
We all lip read to a certain extent. Even people with normal hearing use facial cues and body language to understand what is being said and follow conversations. More light enables stronger visualization of what is being said resulting in better conversations at the dinner table. This is especially important when more than one conversation is happening at once and greater focus is required.
If communicating with someone with a hearing loss, do not talk with your mouth full!
Not only is talking with your mouth full impolite, but it also makes it harder for those with hearing loss to understand what is being communicated. When talking with your mouth full, the listener will find it more difficult to lip read as the intonation of your voice, the shape of the words being said, and how well you can project speech all change dramatically. As the speaker, it is also beneficial to those with hearing loss if you sit up straight, and speak clearly and loudly. However, it is important not to yell as this actually causes speech to become distorted, prohibiting lip-reading.
If speaking to someone with hearing loss, get their attention before you start a conversation.
Saying a person’s name is very powerful, and it can also let them know you are starting a conversation with them. This allows the listener to face you and become attentive. Hearing loss requires increased attention to hear, especially in noise. Obtaining someone’s attention before speaking with them can help them better follow the conversation and make their dining experience, usually during the holidays, much more enjoyable! It can also decrease overall fatigue levels, as those with a hearing loss are already using more resources than average to be able to follow conversation.