Coping with hearing loss in a social setting


Another tip: Ask for a roundtable, which brings you closer to more people, says Christine Morgan, president of the Twin Cities section of the Hearing Loss Association of America.

Bring your own assistive listening device. Listening assistive devices, or ALDs, work with your hearing aids or have earbuds or headphones for people who do not use hearing aids. A small, portable wireless microphone amplifies conversations while reducing background noise, says Sydlowski. You can circulate the microphone to talk with different people, and the signal can be transmitted up to 80 feet from your ears. “You can use one at a noisy wedding, in a restaurant, when you go to the drugstore – just put it on the counter,” she says.

Or use your smartphone as an amplifier. Speech amplifier apps can turn your smartphone into a remote microphone, sending sound to headphones or hearing aids that can be paired with your phone. Examples include the iOS Live Listen app and the Android Headset Remote and Sound Amplifier apps. Another app, called Chatable, is available for iOS and Android devices. “Turn on the app and hand your phone to whoever you want to talk to,” Sydlowski says. “You will hear them much more clearly. “

Visit restaurants during off-peak and quieter hours. “If we go out to eat, we usually don’t go between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm for lunch. We’ll be going at 2pm, so places are less crowded, ”Morgan says.

Meet someone new

Have a script. Ebert recommends creating a brief explanation of your hearing loss that you can use when meeting people. As you repeat it more often, you will be more comfortable revealing your condition and asking for what you need to hear better. “Being up front is almost always the right decision,” she says. “If you feel embarrassed, practice with strangers you probably won’t see again, like your seatmate on the bus or someone in a store. “

Ask for what you need. Don’t hesitate to ask people to face you when they talk, slow down, or speak a little louder, says Ebert. It is also helpful, she says, to ask the other person not to speak while eating, to avoid yelling, and to keep their hands away from their mouth, which interferes with lip reading and interpretation. facial expressions.

Use technology, or pencil and paper, for better understanding. Face masks and other coronavirus-related precautions, “such as plastic barriers,” can make hearing and understanding more difficult during errands like a stop at the bank or grocery store. Using a speech-to-text captioning app on your smartphone can help (options include Live Caption, eyeHear, and TextHear for iOS devices; Speechnotes for Android devices; and Ava for iOS and Android). Simply activate the app and point your phone’s microphone at the speaker. A no-tech alternative: Jot down important information or have the other person do it, Ebert says.

Sari Harrar is a contributing editor of AARP publications specializing in health and science.

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