Position yourself at the eye level of the person speaking, at a distance of 1 to 2m. If one ear is better than the other, position your better ear towards the speaker.

If there is light in your eyes or if there is a shadow on the speaker, move around.

Watch the lips. You can gain a lot of information simply through closely watching the person speaking – their lip movements, facial expressions, gestures and body language. Wear your glasses when people are talking to you. Look at their lips, not their eyes.

Listen. Don’t feel you always need to talk. People with hearing loss sometimes start to miss conversational cues from others. If you are in a group situation, pausing for a moment can give you time to understand what has been said and catch up on the conversation.

If you’ve missed something in a conversation, you can help the speaker by being specific about what you have missed. For instance, you could say “I didn’t catch the last bit of that sentence”. This reduces frustration on both sides and keeps the conversation flowing smoothly. You can ask the speaker to “say that in a different way” so the words you couldn’t make out can be replaced with words that are easier to hear. Another tactic might be to ask the speaker to spell the word you are having difficulty understanding.

Reduce background noise – turn off the television or radio, close windows or doors facing noisy areas, and move away from any other noise sources.

Enhance the acoustics of a room where you often have conversations.  Wooden floors and lack of fabrics will make it harder to listen.

Be assertive. Tell speakers if you need them to need stand closer, speak more slowly, keep their hand away from their mouth, or if you need to move away from any background noise.

Be positive. Being able to laugh when you make mistakes in conversation is far more helpful than feeling negative and withdrawing. Concentration is needed to listen effectively, and you’ll concentrate better if you are happy.

Tune into the topic. It is much easier to follow a conversation when you know what the topic is. Ask friends or family members to let you know when it changes.

Body position. Hold yourself tall, look people in the eye, and speak in a clear and confident voice, and you may encourage others do the same. If you find it hard to monitor your voice level, ask your conversation partner if your volume and pace is okay. This will also make them naturally more aware of clearly and slowly they are speaking.

Use assistive listening devices. These include TV adjustments we can help you with, using your phone in the way our audiologist instructs, public telecoil loop systems, wireless speakers and hearing aid remote microphones.

Booking Restaurants. Try to go at times when it is less busy. Ask for a quiet table in a quiet corner, or a booth if available.

Going to a play, concert, lecture or meeting. Ask for an assistive listening device and arrive early to secure a seat close to the front or a speaker. If you have a loop setting on your hearing aid, try it.

Attending a meeting. Sit near the front, ask the chairperson to ensure that only one person talks at time and ask for a copy of the agenda so you know what will be discussed.

Be realistic. About half of us over 50 find background noise very challenging. Even people with perfect hearing don’t catch everything, so don’t worry or get discouraged if you miss a few words. Focus on the idea a person is expressing rather than exhausting yourself trying to understand every word.

Be informed. Being tuned into what is happening around you can help your listening in a number of different ways. Knowing the big issues in world affairs, your local community and the lives of your friends will make it much easier to join and follow a range of conversations. Similarly, if you are going to see a movie or play, reading the reviews beforehand will allow you to follow the plot more easily.

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