Hearing loss is incredibly common. In the US it affects approximately 48 million people, making it likely that one of those affected could at some point be your spouse, family member, friend or coworker. Learning ways to support the people in your life with hearing loss, can help them feel more connected, engaged and included. It’s a way of actively letting them know you care
What is it Like To Live with Hearing Loss?
Depending on the degree of your loved one’s hearing loss it could cause them to miss only certain tones and pitches or entire words or phrases. No matter what the degree, it can make holding a conversation incredibly frustrating. It can also cause a person to become exhausted as they have to work harder to piece together words and phrases.
Empathy can go a long way in helping someone with hearing loss following conversations. Hearing aids can amplify sounds they may be struggling with but even so, employing certain communication styles can help your loved one feel included.
Keep a Clear Line of Vision
There are few things to consider when communicating with a person with hearing loss. One is that people with hearing loss rely heavily on visual cues to help them compensate for what they can’t hear. Make sure that when you are speaking with them that your face is unobscured and well lit. This will help them be able to focus on facial expression, body language and lip-reading. Try not to talk to them from the other room. This completely strips them of visual cues, they might not understand, and you won’t even realize it! It can also be helpful to maintain eye contact when you speak. This can help you know when they don’t catch what you are saying.
Make sure to speak slowly and enunciate your words. There is nothing more confusing to a person struggling to hear than someone who speaks fast and uses abbreviations they are not familiar with. Use simple sentences rather than complex ones which can be hard to follow and most importantly don’t shout. Many times, when people try to communicate with people with hearing loss, they believe that talking at a louder volume can help. Shouting can actually distort the sound and the shape of your mouth, making it more confusing for the listener. Take time to make sure your loved one has the time to understand what you are saying by speaking slowly and clearly.
Avoid Noisy Areas
When you are planning an outing with a loved one with hearing loss, it’s important to consider the environment that you are planning to meet in. It is common for people with hearing loss to struggle in noisy settings. It can be hard to hear the conversation over noise and even more confusing to hear one speaker when there are multiple conversations happening at once. Make sure to choose a quiet place for a social outing. If you do have to meet in a crowded area, make sure they can rely on lip reading and even written out notes to communicate important information.
Speaking with Your Loved One About Their Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can cause strains on relationships when it isn’t dealt with. The problem is that many people who struggle don’t even realize that they have an issue. If you have noticed someone close to asking you to repeat themselves constantly or turning up the TV to the maximum volume just to hear it, then it could be helpful for you to mention it to them. Don’t wait till you are frustrated to say something. Force is often met with resistance. Approaching them calmly and thoughtfully can go a long way towards encouraging them to have their hearing tested.
Treating Hearing Loss
While most cases of hearing loss are irreversible, they can be treated using hearing aids. These amazing devices amplify just the sounds that are an issue to detect so the wearer can follow the conversation and stay more alert of the world around them. If you suspect that someone you love could benefit from hearing aids, it’s important to let them know. It could be the moment that finally pushes them to accept the fact that they may have hearing loss and seek the vital treatment they need.