Communicating with Your Loved Ones Who Have Hearing Loss

Communicating with Your Loved Ones Who Have Hearing Loss

There are always those people in your life who everyone knows have hearing loss. At family functions, you may notice they struggle to hear what people are saying, especially in a big group. They may come across as confused or lost during conversation and seem distant and removed. It’s important to find a time and a loving way to let this person know that you’ve realized they have an issue. It can be the difference between continued feelings of isolation and inviting your loved one to access the best that life and community have to offer.

Suggest a Hearing Exam

It’s important when you first approach your loved one to choose the timing and setting wisely. If you make a point of bringing up a hearing loss in front of a crowd, it can lead to feelings of frustration and shame. Similarly, don’t wait for a time when both of you are so stressed out, due to struggles in communication that bringing up hearing loss is only met with resistance. Wait for a quiet time when you both are feeling even and calm. Turn down the radio and wait to run dishwashers, washing machines, and any other noisy sounds till later, so they can fully concentrate on what you are saying.

Avoid accusing them—instead talk about how their hearing loss affects you. Use “I” statements: “I feel as if you aren’t listening when I realize in truth it’s a hearing loss”. There is a good chance, that they already suspect that they have a problem. Take time to listen to them and make a plan. Schedule a hearing exam soon and invest in hearing aids

Learning to Communicate

Hearing aids are amazing electronic devices that can amplify the sounds in your life, allowing you to connect to loved ones, stay active and explore the things in your life you are truly excited about. However, they take time to get used to, and even with hearing aids, they can’t fix a hearing loss. To enhance your communication with a loved one, several communication strategies can ensure communication will be clear and minimizes confusion.

Make Sure They Have A Clear View of Your Face

When one sense becomes depleted such as hearing, it’s common for another sense to compensate. This is why those with hearing loss often rely on lip reading, body language, and facial expression to better convey what is being communicated. Make sure to maintain eye contact when speaking and resist the urge to talk to them from another room. In addition, when possible, try speaking without a mask, sunglasses, or anything else such as your hands blocking your mouth or obscuring your face.

Get Their Attention

Listening with hearing loss takes extra brain power to focus. While hearing aids help, you are still tasked with filling in missing parts of words and paying extra attention to make sure you don’t miss a thing. When you begin speaking it can be helpful to get their attention so they can prepare to listen. Try saying their name before addressing them or tapping them on the shoulder. This allows plenty of time for them to get ready to listen.

Speak Clearly and at an Even Gate

Make sure you take time to pronounce each sound in every word and practice speaking not too fast and not too slow. Too fast and they miss what you are saying, but too slowly may come off as condescending. It can also be helpful to take pauses between sentences and at the end of an idea. When changing the subject, it can help to signify this to them by saying “new topic” before proceeding.

Ask and Listen

Most of all, speak to the person you love with hearing loss. Ask them what helps them hear their best. Find out what works and what may not be helping. What works for one person may just come off as irritating to another. However, just taking the time to listen and accommodate those in your life says a lot. It means you are willing to take the time and care to make sure they feel included. If you have a loved one who is struggling with hearing loss and may benefit from treatment, suggest scheduling a hearing test today. Better yet go with them and test your hearing too! It can never hurt to know the status of your hearing. You may be surprised!