Millions of Americans deal with hearing loss. Finding out that someone you love is dealing with hearing loss can be a shock, both for yourself and for the person experiencing the hearing loss itself. It can be hard to know what you can do and how you can offer support. In the beginning, there may be several appointments to attend and pieces of information to digest about new ways of moving forward. Following that, it is about building a routine and habits that can help you all adjust to any changes, and keeping lines of communication as open as possible.
Offer moral support and understanding
If you are not a hearing specialist yourself, you might feel helpless and unable to offer anything of value to your loved one. However, that is completely untrue. One of the most vital things they will need is moral support and understanding, and you can give them that in spades. This can take the form of attending any appointments with them, so they feel supported and they have someone to talk to about it with afterwards, and discuss any options that have come up.
It’s also important to try and see it all from their point of view, and make sure you’re not getting frustrated if they are finding it difficult to communicate or understand what you are saying. Hearing loss can be stressful for those experiencing it and your loved one will need people around who understand this and keep supporting them on their own terms.
Make sure you aren’t patronizing them
We’ve all seen it happening. People speaking in exaggeratedly slow and loud voices, and then repeating themselves even more slowly and loudly. Whilst you might think this is helpful, it can actually make those experiencing hearing loss feel spoken down to and underestimated. Your relative is just as intelligent and smart as they have always been and speaking to them like a child will not help them to hear you more clearly.
Develop good communication habits
Instead of simply speaking loudly and slowly, try to build up good communication habits that will genuinely help your loved one to have a conversation with you, without patronizing them in any way. It’s important to make sure your face and lips are visible when you are speaking, so they can read your facial expressions and know when you are addressing them. Sometimes picking out certain sounds sounds can be particularly difficult for those with hearing loss. If you are in a group, try to speak one at a time and keep from interrupting each other so that they can follow the conversation more easily and remember to reduce background noise as much as you can – so no more TV at the dinner table if possible! If you do need to repeat yourself, try rephrasing the sentence instead, to help you keep your patience and give them another way of grasping what you are saying. Finally, remember to keep communicating and asking them what is helpful, and what is not.
Keep them socially engaged
One of the lesser known side effects of hearing loss can be depression, as people tend to withdraw from potentially stressful social situations involving large groups and noisy public spaces. Make sure you are keeping an eye out for the signs of this, such as reducing social outings and turning down invitations to events they would previously have attended. Do not push them into uncomfortable situations, but instead gently encourage them and accompany them so they have a support system in place wherever they are, especially for the first few months. Keeping your relative socially engaged will be vital in helping them to adjust to any new situations, and keeping their mental health in shape.
Remind them of good practices
Alongside moral and social support, you may also be in a position to offer practical help to a family member who has hearing loss. It might be helpful to monitor their reactions to various situations, as well as what level they are turning the volume up to on the television. If this volume increases, it may be a sign that their hearing has deteriorated and another appointment with a hearing specialist is required. There are other daily tasks you can take responsibility for, such as reminding your relative to recharge their hearing aid each night if that is required.
Ultimately, the best way you can deal with a family member experiencing hearing loss is by being supportive and patient, and encouraging them to receive the expert treatment that will help to treat any loss of hearing. To find out more about what you can do, call Live Better Hearing at 443-775-2950.