Hear for the holidays

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Tips for identifying hearing loss in a loved one, from the team at Advanced Audiology Concepts.

By Patricia Nugent

With families gathering in lovingly decorated homes, revisiting traditional recipes and basking in the spirit of giving, this season is the most wonderful time of the year, right?

But if a family member feels isolated due to hearing loss, it can actually be the loneliest time of the year.

“Hearing is the gift that bridges us socially,” says Dr. Ashley Spisak, who works in partnership with Dr. Jane Kukula at Advanced Audiology Concepts in Mentor. “It connects us with others and is necessary to attain happiness and good health.”

Sensitivity is the key to recognizing hearing loss in a loved one.

“There are telltale signs to watch for,” she explains. “Does this person nod and smile at conversations without joining in? Do they position themselves at the periphery of a group of people instead of in the center of it? Do they keep telling you that you’re mumbling, even though you’re not, or ask you to repeat things?”

Dr. Ashley offers a few helpful strategies for communicating with a person with hearing loss that’ll keep them in the loop this holiday:

  • Speak clearly, slowly and naturally in a normal tone, don’t over-amplify your voice
  • Enter their field of vision so they can focus solely on you, maybe tap them lightly on the shoulder
  • Move closer to them physically to lessen the background noise, and face them so they can see your lips moving
  • If he or she didn’t understand you the first time, choose different words to say the same thing, for instance change “dinner” to “supper” as certain speech sounds are harder to pick up and understand. If a person can make out a key word, their brain helps them fill in the blanks
  • Don’t try to talk over noise, such as a dishwasher or water running; it’s just not realistic. And don’t try to have a conversation by yelling from another room

If you notice that a loved one’s hearing has significantly declined, encourage him or her to have an audiologic assessment. AAC offers a simple, in-office test that’s covered by most insurances.

“Our goal is for everyone to enjoy the gift of good hearing,” she says. “And we present a variety of treatment options to fit into any budget.”

Advanced Audiology Concepts is located at 8897 Mentor Avenue in Mentor. Call the office to set up an audiogram to see how healthy your hearing is, 440-205-8848, or visit AAChear.org for more information.