Hearing loss can be a challenging experience. This chronic medical condition reduces one’s capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound. Symptoms can take a toll on hearing and communication which are essential tools that are used to navigate everyday life. This can create barriers and difficulties that people with hearing loss often have to navigate. It is important to know that there are ways you can provide useful support and understanding. Taking the time to read about things people with hearing loss wish you knew is a great start.
- Hearing loss can be exhausting. Hearing loss produces a range of symptoms that make it tough to hear. This includes: tinnitus – a ringing or buzzing like noise in one or both ears, sounds are slurred or muffled, and struggling to hear when there is background noise. These symptoms, which can be mild to more profound, make it hard to hear and process speech and sound. As a result, the brain often works harder in trying to detect and understand sound. People with hearing loss may use several strategies to try and hear better – lip reading, asking you to repeat what you said, moving to a quieter space etc. This can be an exhausting experience that leads to fatigue or feeling drained after conversations and social interactions. People with hearing loss may experience listening fatigue more readily and often.
- I am not ignoring you. People often report feeling unheard or ignored by their loved one with hearing loss. This can contribute to frustration, distance, and tension in relationships and this strain can be tough to deal with. But another important thing to know is that your loved one is not actively trying to ignore you. Rather, they are likely trying (really hard) to hear and follow what you are saying. This requires extra effort and work, involving them using various strategies to better be able to follow and engage in the conversation you are having. Your loved one may not readily respond and/or catch everything being said. So it would actually be helpful for you to pause and check-in throughout the conversation – asking if there is anything you can clarify or any adjustments you can make to better support their hearing.
- Hearing aids don’t work like glasses. Fortunately, there are effective hearing solutions that transform hearing health. Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss and these electronic devices provide ample support for millions of people with impaired hearing. But a common misconception about hearing loss is that they restore hearing instantly. It is useful to know that hearing aids are not like glasses which one puts on and vision is immediately enhanced. There is an adjustment period with hearing aids because the ears and the brain have to get familiar with this new way of hearing and process sound. There will likely be sounds that your loved one has not heard in quite some time and the brain has to register this and get used to it. So it is important to be patient and understanding during this period.
- There are communication strategies you can use. There are several strategies you can use to support effective communication with your loved one. This includes:
- Grab their attention before starting a conversation. You can do this by calling thor name or tapping them on the shoulder.
- Speak in a natural voice, taking pauses between sentences.
- Maintain visibility and always face them while speaking.
- Rephrase rather than repeat if they struggle to hear and process something.
- Reduce background noise as much as possible including avoiding noisy settings.
- Avoid multitasking during conversations so that you can be fully present.
- Regularly check-in throughout the conversation.
In addition to these strategies, be sure to ask if there are other adjustments you can make.
- Your support is invaluable. Increasing your understanding of hearing loss and providing support is invaluable. Hearing loss can be an isolating condition so showing your loved one that you want to show up and practice effective communication is useful.
Contact us today to learn more about supporting your loved one with hearing loss and the resources available to help you!