Ways to Support Your Loved One With Hearing Loss

Ways to Support Your Loved One With Hearing Loss

WIth nearly 1 in 5 people having some degree of hearing loss, it is likely that you know someone whose hearing is impaired. Hearing loss impacts over 48 million people and is a medical condition that reduces one’s capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound. This can make it challenging to engage in conversations, spend time with others, and participate in social activities. Fortunately there are effective ways you can provide support and contribute to effective communication with your loved one who has hearing loss. Practicing the following strategies can make conversations adn engrossments more accessible and comfortable to navigate. 

  1. Learn more about hearing loss. Taking the time to learn about hearing loss can increase your understanding of what your loved one is experiencing. Learning more about the symptoms, impact on communication, and strategies to support them helps you show up in a more effective way. It is common for people to get frustrated with their loved one who has hearing loss. They may think they are being ignored and this can lead to tension adn distance, straining relationships. But this misconception is due to not fully understanding hearing loss symptoms and the energy that goes into hearing for people with hearing loss. Taking the time to learn about this is a helpful way to be more patient and supportive. 
  1. Support hearing loss treatment. It is important to advocate for hearing loss treatment. Though hearing loss is pervasive, only a third of people who could benefit from treatment actually receive it. Delaying treatment can worsen symptoms and hearing impairment, having significant effects on everyday life as well as health and wellness. Be sure to encourage your loved one to get their hearing health assessed if they haven’t already. You can also offer to go with them and to get your hearing tested. Hearing tests involve a painless and non-invasive process that measures hearing capacities in both ears. There are effective ways hearing loss is treated that transform hearing and communication. Treatment not only strengthens hearing but also relationships, social connection, and overall health. 
  1. Practice effective communication strategies. There are several communication strategies you can practice with your loved one to make conversation easier to engage in. A few helpful strategies include: 
  • Grab their attention before starting a conversation. You can do this by calling their name or tapping them on the shoulder which allows them to be ready. 
  • Face them while speaking. Maintaining clear visibility gives them access to nonverbal cues like body language, facial expressions, and gestures which are all useful ways to follow a conversation. It also lets them see your lips and lip reading is a common strategy people with hearing loss use to follow what is being said. 
  • Rephrase rather than repeat. If they don’t clearly hear something you said, you can rephrase it rather than repeating with the exact same words.  
  • Speak in your natural tone, avoid projecting your voice or yelling. Take natural pauses between sentences. 
  • Email or text any detailed information you are sharing – addresses, dates, times etc. 

In addition to these strategies, be sure to ask your loved one what works best for them 

and if there are other adjustments you can make to better support their hearing needs. 

  1. Reduce background noise. Another useful tip is to reduce background noise as much as possible. Background noise creates additional sound for the brain to have to process and filter through. This makes it harder to hear the speech and sounds that you do want to hear. You can reduce background noise by maintaining low volume settings on any music or audio playing in the background, avoiding noisy restaurants, opting for quieter settings, powering off any household appliances that are loud, putting your phone on silent or vibrate etc. 
  1. Avoid multitasking. Though it is common to multitask during conversations, this can be especially distracting for people with hearing loss. It can contribute greater noise to have to process and prevent people from being fully present and engaged. Be sure to avoid texting, clearing, running errands etc. while having conversations with your loved one who has hearing loss. 
  1. Be an advocate. Navigating communication with hearing loss can be challenging so providing ongoing support is invaluable. Be an advocate for your loved one by asking them more about their hearing needs, making sure the environment is accessible, checking-in through a conversation etc. 

These strategies can help you provide helpful support. This not only prioritizes your loved one’s hearing needs but it can strengthen your relationships. Contact us today to learn more!