Hearing Loss Myths: Communication Issues

SoundVoids™ can cause unnecessary frustration in visiting with your loved ones.

In the continuation of our Hearing Loss Myths series, we’re looking at some of the common misconceptions regarding communication with people who are hard of hearing.  The perception of SoundVoids™ can cause problems in conversations, some of which are not easily treated.  Many people may be surprised to find out that they’re overcompensating for those lingering problems that hearing technology does not easily address.

Myth: If my loved one wears hearing aids, they should be able to hear me when I’m speaking to them and understand everything that I say to them.
Fact:
Please be aware that hearing technology is a supplement to poor hearing, not a substitution for good hearing. Nothing can restore the damage that causes a permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Today’s digital hearing technology can do wonderful things to help in compensating for hearing loss, but they do not restore a person’s ability to hear and understand speech. Hearing technology cannot compensate for nerve damage that involves a loss in speech discrimination ability. Technology can make improvements, but “cake” may still sometimes sound like “take,” or “tough” like “puff,” or “road” like “rose.”

Myth: You have to repeat yourself many times before someone with hearing loss can understand what you’ve said.
Fact:
Actually, repeating the misunderstood words will cause more frustration rather than providing clarity, especially when trying to communicate with someone whose loss involves a compromised ability to understand speech.  You can tell them your “chicken was tough” until you’re blue in the face and they’ll most likely always hear that your “sicking was puff.”  It’s a much better idea to rephrase your words to communicate the same idea in a different manner, avoiding those words that are misunderstood.  Telling them that your “meat was not tender” might be much easier to understand.

Myth: People who are “hard of hearing” have selective hearing. They only hear what they want to hear, but they can hear perfectly well if they really want to.
Fact
: This is partially true. However, people who have hearing difficulties cannot hear certain frequencies of sounds until they are at elevated levels of loudness. They have no control over which sounds they hear and which ones they don’t. The difficulty does not originate with a lack of attention but rather with an inability to discern that their attention is desired.  They may be able to hear in diverse listening environments, but it takes them a lot more energy and concentration to fill in the Sound Voids™ they’re experiencing using contextual or visual cues.

Myth: You have to shout or over-enunciate your words when speaking to people who have hearing loss.
Fact:
Too often, the problem is not a simple matter of sound volume. A lot of hearing losses involve a distortion in sounds due to the degradation of the cilia in the cochlea. This degradation can cause problems regardless of how loud a person is speaking. Shouting or over-enunciating words makes the perception of this distortion worse because you’re distorting your speech, making your loved one’s perception of distortion even worse.

At Advanced Hearing Care, we recognize that hearing difficulties can make communicating with your loved ones difficult.  To make things a little easier, we have a page listing some wonderful tips for successful communication.  If you or your loved ones are struggling to hear clearly, please call us for an appointment.  There’s no reason to continue to be frustrated when trying to visit with your family and friends.   Don’t wait until it’s too late to hear what you’ve been missing!  Call today and reintroduce yourself to a world of sound.