6 Ways to Cope with Hearing Loss

Learning coping skills can help with the exhaustion, anxiety and depression which often accompanies hearing loss. Navigate day to day activities better with the following strategies.

1. Get Your Hearing Tested

The first thing I’d advise to do is visit a local hearing center and get your hearing tested by an audiologist. It’s a good way to find where your hearing is at to get an accurate diagnosis and compare against future tests if your hearing declines.

You don’t need a doctor’s referral. You can visit any hearing center. Most will offer a “free” hearing test. You can do a Google search to find a “hearing center near me”.

I personally like Costco due to their free evaluations and low pressure, no commission sales environment. I have no vested interest on where you go.

2. Max Out Your Technology

Once you’ve gotten your hearing tested, and it’s been established you have hearing loss that’s significantly effecting your quality of life, you can move forward with purchasing hearing aids.

Purchase Good Hearing Aids

Prices on hearing aids vary widely. The cost is dependent on where you purchase them and the level of technology needed.

Costco in the U.S. sells hearing aids starting at $1,500 a pair for their Kirkland 9.0 Signature brand. The technology should be more than enough to cover people’s hearing loss satisfactorily.

Other Hearing aid centers (national chains and single outlets stores) typically start at $4,000 a pair ranging up to $6,000 – $8,000 depending on technology level.

Take Notes and Give Feedback

After you receive your hearing aids it may take time for your brain to adjust to new sounds it hasn’t heard in years. As time progresses you will need to get your hearing aid volume increased, and settings adjusted to more finely tune to your specific needs.

It may help to take notes on the specific difficulties you are facing so your audiologist can adjust your hearing aid settings accordingly.

Some examples of notes/feedback that could be given to your audiologist:

  • “When in restaurants with background noise, I have difficulty hearing the person sitting across from the table. This includes the server taking our order and delivering our food.”
  • “I have more difficulty hearing women and children. Men I find easier.”
  • “When in my car, the background noise makes it difficult to hear the person beside me”.
  • “When putting away dishes after a meal, the ‘clinks’ are very jarring. Is there a way to make this feel more comfortable?”
  • “When I hear very loud noises, I get distortion that makes it more difficult to understand speech.”

Explore Hearing Accessories

  • Phonak Roger technology (Roger Pen, Roger Select, etc.): Designed to improve hearing in noise comprehension
  • Telecoil:  A telecoil is used to enhance and “clean up” the speech signal coming through the audio system, whether it be a telephone or a microphone, such as in an auditorium or place or worship.
  • Bluetooth streamers: Streaming audio (music) through Bluetooth from a smartphone, TV or theater.

Closed Captioning & Subtitles

Closed captioning (CC) and subtitling are both processes of displaying text on a television, video screen, or other visual display to provide additional or interpretive information.

Closed captioning assumes an audience cannot hear the audio and needs a text description of what they would otherwise be hearing.

Subtitles assume an audience can hear the audio, but need the dialogue in text form as well to fill in any gaps in understanding.

Speech to Text Apps

Speech to text apps transcribe the spoken word and displays it on your smartphone screen.

It can be used for real-time closed captioning and subtitles, or for regular transcription when dictating into your phone.

Android

  • Live Transcribe – Live Transcribe is an accessibility app designed for the Deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Speechnotes – Continuous non-stop and unlimited dictation for anyone who prefers fast & easy typing.
  • Voice Notebook – The speech to text application that allows you to take voice notes and save them locally or send them to cloud services. 

Apple

  • REKK –  Call Recorder is a tool to record, save and convert you phone calls easily.
  • Dictation – Speech to text allows to dictate and translate text messages instead of typing. 
  • Otter Voice Meeting Notes  – Takes meeting notes for you in real-time, and shareable with your team. 

3. Advocate for Yourself

  • Let people know about your hearing loss. If they don’t know you’re having difficulty hearing them then they can’t adjust to your needs.
  • Hold your head high and be proud. You’d be surprised. The only person who cares about your hearing loss is yourself. No one cares if you wear hearing aids. Most people are thinking of themselves rather than those around them.
  • Be polite and up front and honest about your hearing loss and your limitations. I find that if people are worth helping they will understand.
  • Ask people to speak slower and clearly

Set Your Stage

  • Face person directly.
  • Spotlight your face (no backlighting).
  • Avoid noisy backgrounds.
  • Get attention first.
  • Ask how you can facilitate communication.
  • When audio and acoustics are poor, emphasize the visual.

Get the Point Across

  • Don’t shout.
  • Speak clearly, at moderate pace, not over-emphasizing words.
  • Don’t hide your mouth, chew food, gum, or smoke while talking.
  • Re-phrase if you are not understood.
  • Use facial expressions, gestures.
  • Give clues when changing subjects or say “new subject.”

Establish Empathy with Your Audience

  • Be patient if response seems slow.
  • Talk to a hard of hearing person, not about him or her to another person.
  • Show respect to help build confidence and have a constructive conversation.
  • Maintain a sense of humor, stay positive and relaxed

4. Get a Professional Assessment

An occupational therapist may be able to assess your workplace or other area where you’re having difficulty hearing.

A family physician may be able to refer you and/or your local hearing association may also be of help in getting you an occupational therapist

Occupational therapists can help with:

  • Seating positioning
  • Advanced phone features
  • Identifying demands requiring solutions to match worker, workplace strategies and use of technology or communication strategies to maximize performance.
  • Identify the procedural and process strategies needed to support communication.
  • Ensure match of the technology with job demands
  • Assess current aids and accessories to ensure in good working order and recommend HA technology to match communication needs of the individual in current workplace.

5. Lower Expectations

Happiness = Reality/Expectations

The less you expect from others and the world, the less disappointed you’ll be when things don’t turn out your way. The less disappointed you are the more happiness you can cultivate.

By focusing only on what’s within your control you can maintain a “happy medium” to get you through the more challenging times.

6. Pursue Auditory Training

Hearing comprehension is not just a function of your ears functioning correctly from a physical standpoint. It’s mostly reliant on how your brain understands the signals it receives.

The old fitness adage “use it or lose it” holds true is that your brain acts like a muscle. If you brain can no longer identify what’s going on in the outside world then over time it will slowly lose it’s ability to understand language.

Angel Sound and Neurotone have auditory training programs that can retrain your brain to identify speech comprehension to a greater degree.

Angel Sound Interactive Auditory Training and Hearing Assessment Program

Neurotone LACE Auditory Training Program

The following YouTube video by LACE shows a fantastic example of the “use it or lose it” principle.