Each person’s experience of hearing loss is quite different. In turn, the ways that you can help any given person with hearing loss can be different, as well. When you are working to communicate with a loved one who has hearing loss, one of the first mistakes you can make is to assume what will help. If you remember the principle of communication with a person who has hearing loss, ironically enough, you need to listen. Listening to what the person tells you is the most helpful. Though you might think certain strategies are helpful, they can actually make your loved one feel worse. With this principle in mind, the first step you need to take is to have a conversation with your loved one, asking for some specific recommendations. When you hear what can help, be sure to abide by these requests before taking your own steps. In addition to these specific requests, there are a few general principles you can keep in mind. Let’s walk through a few of these generalizations, always keeping in mind that specific requests should take precedence.
When you are communicating with your loved one alone, this environment can be the easiest to navigate. Take care to look directly at your loved one, and remember not to put your hands over your mouth. Whether they realize it or not, many people with hearing loss use visual cues from facial expressions and mouth movements to interpret what you are saying. Remember not to call out from another room in the house. This muffling and lack of visual cues can be the most difficult way to talk, even if it is one-on-one. There’s no need to oversimplify your speech or change what you have to say. When your loved one realizes that you’re modifying your word choice, it can give the impression that you think they are unintelligent. Raising the volume of your speech a bit usually doesn’t hurt, but don’t fall into the bad habit of yelling at your loved one unintentionally.
When you are communicating with your loved one in a group, it can be somewhat more difficult. In the first place, you might not have the opportunity to pass along the individual requests that can help the most. When possible, you can let people know about these helpful tips, but the opportunity might not arise. The most important thing to keep in mind in group conversations is not to leave your loved one out or speak for them. If someone asks a question, you can help by relaying that question at a closer distance, louder volume, or in other terms, but don’t jump in and answer directly for your loved one. Speaking on their behalf can have a profound effect on their mental wellbeing, confidence, and feeling of independence. In group conversations, the setting is key, and you might want to navigate to a place where background noise is at a minimum and where your loved one is central to the conversation.
In addition to spoken conversations, you can assist your loved one with hearing loss by supplementing communication with other modes, including text. When you have important information to pass along, you might want to leave your loved one a note, email, or text message with those details. These combined modes of communication serve to enhance your loved one’s feelings of inclusion and self-sufficiency while making sure that details are coming through.
Although these tips can make a difference for your loved one with hearing loss, the only lasting solution is to seek assistance from a hearing health professional. After a thorough diagnosis, we can point your loved one toward the right hearing aids to assist with communication. Your efforts can only do so much to fill in the gaps in conversation, and many people find that hearing gets worse with time.
Rather than applying a band-aid to the problem, why not assist your loved one to pursue the durable solutions that hearing aids can provide? The benefits of treatment extend far beyond conversation, including physical, mental, and cognitive wellbeing. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!