It’s hard to get away from ‘advice’ these days. We live in a world of advice on how to do anything better. Sleep better, eat better, dress better, get rid of wrinkles better.
How to live with hearing loss better.
There’s a lot of great information available on how to live well with hearing loss and tinnitus, much of it centering on technology. But in my experience, many important tips are overlooked because they are the on-the-ground type, the ones that you can only learn from the experience of communicating with people, as best as you can, every day.
This is some of the useful ‘stuff’ I’ve absorbed on my endless laps around life’s hearing loss track.
- Take out your hearing aids before you turn on the shower, or before you go into the shower-room, or before you take off your clothes, whichever of these comes first.
- Don’t yell at someone that they’re not communicating properly with you. That’s a pot calling a kettle black. Yelling hurts your ears, and it doesn’t work with them. It just makes them mad and then everyone’s upset and, hey! It just doesn’t end well. Find a better way.
- Speaking of good communication behaviour, do it. Speak as clearly as you want other people to speak with you. Maintain eyeball-to-eyeball contact. Try to lose the famous hearing loss frown. The one you may not realize is grooved between your eyes; we use it when we’re concentrating to hear and understand. It’s scary to other people, especially small children.
- And speaking of kids, when your grandchildren find out that you ‘read mouths’, they may test you. Even though their mouth is wide open, with half-chewed food just sitting there, go with it. Think a moment and then ‘guess’, “Are you saying hi?” Whether you’re right or wrong, they’ll love it.
- If you say pardon too quickly – because you actually did hear what the person said – just wait patiently for the repeat. If you try and explain that sometimes you say pardon out of habit, they may never believe you again, even when you really need them to repeat something.
- If you want to have a good conversation while you’re on a walk with someone, you have choices. Learn to walk backwards so you can read the lips of the forward-walking person. Or learn to walk forward while keeping your eyes peeled on their face. Both of these require a smooth walkway with no trip-barriers – and a conversation partner that you literally trust with your life. Otherwise, do the best you can, say pardon when you need it (see point 5), and enjoy the scenery.
- Accept that when you ask a young child (who’s not your own) to repeat themselves, they may not do it, because a/ think they’re in trouble or b/ they forget what they just said. Also, c/ they just don’t like you.
- When revealing the fact of your hearing loss to a potential romantic interest, don’t come on too heavy with something like, “I have hearing loss and I read lips – and wow, yours are beyond gorgeous!” On second thought, go for it and let us know how that works out for you.
- If you don’t understand how hearing aids work, don’t worry about it. Someone else does! Your job is to understand how they might change your life for the better, then try them out and test the theory.
- Tinnitus can blow your mind, unless you deny it the permission or power to do so. Turn your focus elsewhere and make stress reduction your number one goal.
- Speech to text apps: they are wonderful, lifesaving, amazing, mind-blowing and help you understand what the masked salesperson is saying. But only if you remember to use it and can quickly find it on your phone while you’re in the midst of a tricky conversation.
- If you pretend you’re following what’s being said, but you really have no idea, that’s not good. Seriously not good. You’re either going to get caught out or, even worse, you’ll have no idea just what went down. And won’t, because you’re too embarrassed to ask someone later. And who knows what you’ve committed yourself to? Be brave, stop bluffing
In a nutshell, be open, express your needs, and commit yourself to better communication.
I swear by these tips (and many more)! Sometimes, though, I forget to lean on my own experience. But when I’m true to myself, communication just gets better.
Do you have any streetwise tips to share?