The effects of hearing loss reach far beyond just the person with impairment—they can impact the lives of friends, family members, loved ones, acquaintances and coworkers. Whether you were diagnosed with hearing loss yourself or are adapting to someone else’s hearing impairment, adjusting to the condition can be a big challenge.
Acclimating to life with hearing loss takes hard work, a little time and some serious dedication. More than anything, though, it takes patience and positivity.
If you know someone with hearing loss, take a look at these communication tips. They provide some helpful ideas that can improve your relationship and conversations with your hearing impaired loved one.
- Speak up and slow down. Fast, mumbled talking can make hearing difficult, even for those without impaired hearing. Focus on speaking slower and louder to avoid having to repeat everything you say. You can also try to adjust the pitch of your voice higher or lower depending on whether your loved one was diagnosed with high-frequency or low-frequency hearing loss.
- Communicate directly. People with hearing loss have trouble when it comes to background or secondary sound in many settings. Even though you know who you’re talking to, your hearing impaired loved one may not realize that they need to focus on listening. When you initiate a conversation, ensure you have your loved one’s attention by making eye contact, speaking directly from nearby and using his or her name.
- Avoid background noise. Even the best hearing aids aren’t always effective in situations with a lot of ambient noise. While there are assistive listening devices (ALDs) and other accessories to help in these situations, sometimes it’s best to just avoid them. Choose quieter restaurants and events, and always be aware that group gatherings and parties can be difficult for your loved one.
- Utilize body language. Speech is only a small part of humans’ overall communication abilities. Motion is a great way to supplement your speech, making it easier for the hearing impaired to interpret what you’re saying. Use facial expressions, hand gestures and bodily motions to boost successful communication in your conversations.
Please take a look at these helpful tips that can help you communicate better with your spouse, children, friends and even strangers.
- Talk about your condition. You are one of at least 36 million people with hearing loss in the U.S., and it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Your friends and loved ones as well as acquaintances and strangers understand hearing loss and are more than willing to help you communication with them better. All you have to do is ask!
- Use your hearing aids. This may seem obvious, but many of our patients often report struggling to hear at home because they remove their hearing aids when relaxing, eating dinner or watching TV. Even though you may want to be as comfortable as possible, not wearing your hearing aids means less communication with your family. For every hearing loss patient, communication tip number one is to keep your hearing aids in during the hours that you’re awake.
- Try out ALDs. Even those with mild hearing loss often struggle in certain situations. Trying to talk to your friends, spouse or kids across the table at a loud restaurant can prove to be nearly impossible. Audiologists developed tools called ALDs to resolve problems like this. If you’re struggling with conversations in a certain setting, come talk to us about what ALDs may be worth the investment.
- Stay engaged. When you’re hard of hearing, it can be easy to give up when you’re struggling. If you get in the habit of doing this, though, you will stop trying to engage in conversations at all in some situations. This can be frustrating for both you and your loved ones. Even if you can’t keep up with a complete conversation, force yourself to remain present and aware. As you develop the skills to hear better with your hearing aids, you will find that you begin understanding more, not less.