Conversations at the pub
Every time I get a new set of hearing aids I head straight to the pub. Usually I am euphoric at the clarity and quality improvements but it is not just to celebrate.
The pub is where you can really test how the hearing aids work in a difficult to hear situations.
The conversations are different at the pub too. it's not the place you go to hear Shakespeare however as a composer of human emotions he was aware of the difference in vowels and consonants.
"If there are harsh consonants in the speech of a particular character, that will tell you something of their state of mind. If they have long vowels and soft consonants, it will imply they are in a calmer, softer place."
Vowels often convey emotions with consonants related to intelligence.
For a typical sensorineural hearing loss in high the consonants are the letters first to go - hence you loose the subtleties of the conversation the f, t's and s's.
So the pub challenge immediately tests how the new hearing aid is going to work in the most challenging of environments especially if there is some reverberation and various competing conversations in background noise.
New hearing aids will zone in on conversation so it can be an interesting experience as the hearing aid decides who you will listen to depending on the settings or if in auto flight.
The classic emotional conversation is the bloke at the pub all vowels.
An intelligent conversation may emphasise more consonants - with less emotion - like you may get from a lawyer who is more interested in his next trip away than helping you (that boy was all consonants and no vowels).
Context of a conversation
While we are at it you may need to subtly remind yourself to start listening again. Listening to the words that is, because often we have switched off from conversations because we are not used to hearing them.
"You may need to remind yourself hey I can follow this conversation now"
Try to pick up the context of the conversation early. If you miss that your brain is going to work so much harder to make sense of things. Even people with normal hearing will not hear everything. Picking up the context early means you can fill in the blanks quicker.
If you have had hearing issues for a while you may have enhanced body-language, lip-reading and other non-verbal skills.
But you still need to remember to listen and not to expect perfect results.
Some experts quote non-verbal communication to be as high as 93% of communication - however the amount of communication that is non-verbal probably varies between 60 and 90% on a daily basis. This number depends on both the situation and the individual.
Learning to Listen Again
Consider how you learn, how you listened even when your hearing was better than it is now.
Enjoy conversation again and do not throw the towel in if you do not get every word.
Some people notice my hearing aids but rarely anyone comments on them. The most likely comment would be if you are not wearing them - people notice that glazed look of someone not following their "important" conversation and may say something like - you are not wearing your hearing aids are you.
If you are going to make the step to wear hearing aids - do your research first, use an audiologist you can trust and one that can recommend across various brands.
For me it is usually set and forget - I buy the hearing aids and maybe some really good Bluetooth accessory and I am done. Others need to return for adjustments, so choosing well to start with means you can return for adjustments.
Given the obvious neo plasticity of the brain - leaving the decision to buy hearing aids too late may put you in an early dementia ward - if you don't use it you may lose it.
I am not wearing a white jacket so these are just my thoughts at the very least you may recognise a conversation with a lawyer where very little emotion is invested, and you may also notice a friend excited about some topic at the pub sounding off from the vowels.
Ok you have got me a pint of Stone and Wood or a Guinness (genius my neice used to say) and as for hearing aids I am going for the bell and whistles too thanks - if you are going to stick a brick in your ear you may as well hear. Often a cheaper hearing aid is exactly the same with the advanced features turned off.
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