With over 48 million people, or 1 in 6, having some degree of hearing loss – you likely have a loved one who lives with impared hearing. Hearing loss can be challenging to navigate. It often requires extra effort to engage in conversations, spend time with others, and be in social settings. Fortunately there are effective treatment options and hearing technologies that transform hearing and communication. In addition to this type of support, there are specific ways you can accommodate your loved one with hearing loss. Your support is invaluable and can go a long way towards strengthening your relationships. A few tips include:
- Practice effective communication strategies. There are numerous communication strategies you can practice with your loved one to better support effective communication. This includes:
- Grab attention: before you start the conversation, tap them on the shoulder or call their name so that they are prepared.
- Be visible: maintain visibility so that they have access to nonverbal cues like body language and facial expression. Lip reading is also another strategy that people use to help follow conversations.
- Reduce background noise: excess noise can be distracting and also make it more challenging to hear. You can reduce noise by turning off any appliances you aren’t using, driving with the windows rolled up, turning off the TV or music playing in the background etc.
- Speak naturally: speak in your natural voice rather than projecting your voice. Increasing volume can actually further distort sound, making it harder to hear. Be sure to take time to fully enunciate words and also pausing naturally to provide time for your loved one to fully absorb and process what is being said.
- Rephrase vs. repeat: if they’ve struggled to hear something, rephrase rather than repeat. This creates more opportunity for them to hear and process what you are saying.
Know what to avoid. It is important to know what to avoid so that you can create the best possible condition for communication. This includes:
- Multitasking: we often multitask during conversations with loved ones – texting, eating, cleaning etc. This creates distractions that prevent people from being fully engaged and focused.
- Background noise: avoid settings with lots of background noise. This includes busy restaurants during peak hours, construction sites, noisy parks etc.
- Speaking for loved ones: if your loved one hasn’t heard something, avoid speaking for them. Rather, you can repeat what was said which allows them to directly respond.
This creates greater accessibility and helps your loved one be more comfortable.
Maximize technology. There are a wide range of technologies that are designed to support hearing and communication. These technologies increase accessibility and easily integrate into everyday life. A few examples include:
- Closed captioned services: you are likely familiar with this feature which can easily be applied while watching TV or a movie. It converts audio into text, allowing people to read what is being said, increasing comprehension.
- Texting & emailing: utilizing these communication platforms is a great way to send more detailed information that may be harder to catch if communicated audibly.
- Amplified phone: designed for people with hearing challenges, amplified phones make it easier to talk on the phone. They offer easily adjustable volume settings, amplified ringtone, and transcription features.
Maximizing the use of technology can significantly aid in communication.
- Regular check-in. Another useful tip is to regularly check-in with your loved one. This also invites them to share their hearing needs. You can do this by simply asking about specific strategies that best support their hearing during a conversation. Additionally, be sure to pay attention to any signs that they are experiencing challenges. You can ask if there is anything you can clarify or if there are specific ways you can adjust to better meet their hearing needs.
- Be patient. Learning how to navigate communication with hearing loss takes time. This ongoing process involves exploring different strategies as well as practicing in various environments. It is important to be patient and flexible as this can take time and adjusting to for everyone involved.
These strategies can strengthen communication as well as improve relationships. Contact us today to learn more about the hearing technologies, resources, and services that are available to support communication.