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.

Let's Talk - - Hearing 89 -

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.

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