Enjoying social events despite hearing loss
Karen Finch, audiologist and managing director of The Hearing Care Centre, suggests simple ways to enjoy get-togethers even if your hearing is worrying you.
For most people, the recent hot weather and the prospect of social events out in the sun were a source of great excitement. However, for someone with hearing loss, gatherings such as these can be a source of great anxiety. The anxiety centres around not being able to join in or feeling silly if you mishear something. This can mean that people with hearing loss choose to isolate themselves rather than to put measures in place to mean that they can feel included.
It doesn’t have to be this way! Here are three main areas of focus to ensure that you can feel comfortable in an outdoor gathering: 1 Environment
The main focus is to find a quiet, well-lit location to sit. You can limit background noise by sitting away from speakers if music is playing and by joining a smaller group of conversation or moving on to another group if the conversation becomes too loud or difficult to follow.
Lighting is important too. If you sit in a place where you can clearly see the faces of people you are talking to, you will be able to lipread much more easily. If you are outside once the sun goes down, you can ask the host to turn on an outdoor light so you can still follow the conversation.
Technology is also developing at a rapid pace to help those with hearing loss in these sorts of scenarios. Hearing aids such as the new Signia Primax Pure BT13 model have a feature known as SpeechMaster, which uses directional microphone technology and singles out the dominant speaker, reducing background sounds and voices according to environmental changes. 2 Social
Another way to make your environment more comfortable for you is to be open and honest with the people around you. Let them know that you are struggling so they can help you to feel more included. Small things such as introducing everyone when you arrive so you can call their attention or having a visual signal to let your friends know if you are struggling to hear without disrupting the conversation can change the scenario for you completely. 3 Personal
The first and least taxing step is to wear your hearing aids. This will make life so much easier for you and will prevent the strain you would otherwise feel from trying to keep up with your environment unaided. There can be an inner self-consciousness surrounding wearing hearing aids because it draws attention to the problem, but what will draw even more attention is the more visible struggle you will have if you don’t use them.
It also makes life a lot easier if you have reasonable expectations for the event. After going to a number of events it will become second nature and you will learn what helps and what doesn’t.
The main thing to remember is that social events are not intended to test you; they are an opportunity to spend time with your friends and family. As long as you are open and honest with the people you are with, then there is nothing for you to worry about. Just relax and allow yourself to enjoy the get-together.
If you want to find out more about improving your hearing please speak to one of the expert audiologists in Karen’s team on 01473 230330.