The first step is to rule out any changes to your hearing by having a full hearing evaluation. This evaluation should include checking both hearing for different pitched tones and your ability to hear and understand both quiet and normal level speech.
Barring any difficulties with your hearing, the next likely discussion has to do with ability to “auditorily multitask”. Simply put, the ability to listen to and understand more than one person speaking at a time. While we witness people who can be watching television, talking on the phone and/or responding to someone else talking next to them, this does not appear to be the norm. As we gracefully approach our middle to later years, this auditory multitasking seems to become more difficult for many. In the presence of normal hearing, listening to multiple conversations and understanding all that is said can still be challenging. Be assured, though, you are not alone.
If hearing loss is identified, ability to listen and respond varies with both the degree of loss and the ability of the listener to interpret the speech. Even with a mild hearing loss, following a conversation with people talking at the same time becomes more difficult. The greater the hearing loss, the harder it is to separate the speakers' voices or even to understand a single speaker.
Hearing can change over time. Having your hearing checked gives you and your audiologist a chance to review your results and discuss strategies when you are in tough listening situations.