If you have an untreated hearing loss it’s a foregone conclusion that extra effort is going to be required to understand what’s going on around you. Hearing is no longer a passive event where you’re taking everything in and sorting out the meaning. Instead, as a hearing impaired listener you are forced to expend extra energy and concentration to just follow a conversation in the hopes of deciphering what’s being said before you expend any energy sorting out the meaning.
HEARING LOSS AND EXHAUSTION
According to Dr. Ervin Hafter, a professor of psychology at the University of California Berkeley, hearing-loss exhaustion occurs because of the extra mental work that hard-of-hearing people must exercise to get through their day. From keeping up with conversations at work to processing the sounds on the street, the body expends much of its energy to struggle to hear.
HEARING LOSS AND POOR WORK PERFORMANCE
Dr. Hafter also noted that the extra processing your brain has to do when you have poor hearing can create an overload that can affect your overall cognitive performance. The extra effort required to comprehend speech in noise when your normal mechanisms for filtering out background sounds are impaired can put an overload on the brain that makes it harder to perform other mental tasks at the same time. The result can be poorer performance on work-related tasks and extra work keeping up with others than if your brain didn’t have to go through extra cycles trying to comprehend and communicate.
TIPS FOR DEALING WITH HEARING LOSS
Listening is more difficult with a hearing loss and requires more effort. Frustration often occurs between family members as everyone struggles to understand how to communicate when one member of the family has a hearing loss. Below are some tips for things you can do to help yourself.
- Speak up for yourself. Don’t expect everyone else to guess what you need. Trying to pretend that you don’t have a problem hearing will only cause you to answer inappropriately ultimately causing further miscommunication. Tell others if you are having difficulty understanding. Ask others to rephrase the message, not to just repeat the message. Often this will help to improve your understanding.
- Educate others regarding hearing loss. Many people with normal hearing simply don’t understand why you can hear their voice but can’t understand what they’re saying. Ask others to talk more slowly and clearly and not to obstruct their mouths.
- Manipulate your environment to your advantage. Hearing clearly when there is background noise is probably the biggest challenge for people with hearing loss. When you can, choose quiet listening environments. If you know there will be a lot of noise where you are going, make preparations.
- When someone suggests dining out, have a handy list of quieter restaurants.
- Maintain eye contact with the person speaking.
- When attending a meeting, get an agenda.
- Place yourself between what you’re trying to hear and any noise you don’t want to hear.
- Investigate hearing aids. You know you’re having a problem hearing. Speaking up for yourself, educating others about your hearing loss and manipulating the environment are all useful tips. But as Henry Ford once said,
“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”