We are all natural lip readers and the more you can look at someone’s face and lip movements it will make it much easier to understand what they are saying. The large majority of our communication ability also comes from body language so remember to ensure that you always have the person/s you are speaking to face you. This is a simple hearing tip, but a powerful one.
Firstly, if you are having an important conversation at home think about reducing competing noise. You can do this by doing simple things such as moving to a quieter room, closing a window or turning off the television/radio while you are having a conversation. In terms of eating out, it is important to consider going to a café or restaurant that either has less noise or booking a table in advance that is away from background noise. Also, think about how you position yourself at a table as you want to ensure the noise is as far away from you as possible and so that you can clearly see at least the primary speaker.
Don’t be afraid to ask people to repeat what they are saying or to speak more clearly when they speak to you. You ideally want the person to speak to you in a slow, clear voice that is slightly raised in volume (not yelling as this distorts the speech signal). It is ideal that you start the conversation by telling family/friends this upfront such as ‘I’m having a bit of difficulty hearing today (or I’m feeling a little tired) would you mind please speaking a little slower/ louder so I can hear you better?’. Doing this from the get-go avoids any frustration or embarrassment from both parties and while this can be hard to do at the start you will find this gets easier the more you do it and people are generally very good at modifying their speech once you ask them to do this.
Good lighting (not too bright or dull) is one thing that people often neglect but it is actually very important so that we can see each other’s faces clearly when trying to have a conversation. Ideally, you always want to be within 1-2 metres of the speaker as well to help you hear better. Don’t be afraid to tell loved ones to ensure that they don’t speak to you from another room and that they come close to you when they want to tell you something or have a conversation.
Our final hearing tip is an easy one, don’t let your hearing aids sit in the drawer – they were designed to be worn! Hearing devices can also be adjusted to work better in noise and newer technological advancements mean that hearing aids continue to get better in their ability to process speech in noise. Hearing aids can be very helpful in social situations so remember to wear them. If you haven’t used them for a while or find they aren’t working well for you in certain situations (or if you have never used hearing aids) remember hearing aids can be adjusted to suit your needs. So, don’t suffer in silence – go see an accredited audiologist who can work with you to reach your full hearing potential.