Connecting People | May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

Connecting People | May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

This year has brought a lot of changes when it comes to how we socialize and connect with others. Many places have relaxed the COVID-19 restrictions, making it possible to reconnect with others in ways that are more comfortable. Although the process of responding to COVID-19 continues at the global scale, we no longer take for granted the ability to sit together with friends, loved ones, and community members in close proximity for a conversation. This simple act that was once an obvious way to connect with others has now become a cherished activity. For some people, though, these face-to-face encounters, even without face masks, still pose a barrier to communication. Hearing loss can come between us in these settings, making our connections fragmented and even broken at times. 

Each year, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association sets aside the month of May to celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month. This year’s theme, “Connecting People,” couldn’t come at a better moment in our shared history. We are all eager to connect and reconnect in 2022, and reducing barriers to these connections is an important way to make sure each of us knows that we are not alone. Let’s take a closer look at how untreated hearing loss can cause a barrier to communication. On the other side of the coin, we can consider how treatment makes it possible to reconnect with others in 2022. 

Untreated Hearing Loss and Communication

Hearing loss comes in many forms, but many of them have in common the struggle to communicate. Though individuals have different experiences of frequency and volume, human speech can be difficult to discern when a person has one of the most common forms of hearing loss: age-related loss, otherwise known as presbycusis, and noise-induced loss. Whereas we once heard complete words or phrases that fit together as a single unit of language, hearing loss can transform that communication into a jumble of disconnected syllables. The process of trying to put together the puzzle of these syllables into something meaningful can be quite exhausting, particularly when you are working without all the pieces. This fatigue can make some people cut communication short or to become agitated, frustrated, or even angry during interactions. The negative emotional cloud that falls over these conversations can be another type of impairment to our connections with others. When we are feeling frustrated or we know that others are frustrated, it becomes less appealing to make these connections in the first place. 

Hearing Loss Treatment and Connecting People

Getting treatment for hearing loss is a powerful way to help people connect and reconnect. After hearing loss has posed a barrier to communication, it can come as a huge relief to find a solution. Yet, some people still resist getting the help they need. Some people think that hearing aids will make them seem old or give the appearance of a lack of independence. Quite the contrary, these devices can help you engage directly and fluidly with others, not only deepening connections with friends and loved ones but making it possible to move through the community independently. The relief that comes through hearing loss treatment is not limited to relationships, either. This treatment brings benefits for health, mental wellbeing, and other aspects of social life that let us thrive. 

If you have someone in your life who has been having a hard time connecting during the COVID-19 pandemic, many barriers may be at fault. However, hearing loss is one factor that you can take proactive steps to improve. The first step is to encourage this person to schedule a hearing test. We can provide a thorough diagnostic exam and consultation about their individual needs, making sure that we have all the relevant information to make a recommendation of the right hearing aids. Once treatment is in place and used regularly, the benefits for relationships can be transformative. Why not help someone with hearing loss in your family, friend group, or community connect once again? This practical way to celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month is a gift to all the people who felt the loss of this connection in the first place.