Is there someone in your life who has hearing loss? There are about 466 million people around the world who experience crippling hearing loss. According to this statistic, there’s a high probability that you do know someone with hearing loss. You may notice that they are asking you to repeat yourself more often, you can tell that they are having difficulty in keeping up with conversations, or you notice that they are isolating themselves from social interactions. Here are some tips to handle this situation.
1. Practice effective communication.
When talking to someone with hearing loss, get their attention. Your face and lips need to be visible in order to better understand you. Do not talk from a different room that has walls around it. Do not talk while eating. Enunciate and speak at a steady pace. Do not yell, this makes it more difficult to lipread. When in a group setting, please only allow one person to speak at a time. If the topic changes, notify the person who is hard of hearing.
2. Create an environment that will help people hear best.
A good environment is important to let people hear at an optimal level. Have very little to no background noise and a brightly-lit space to provide ease with lipreading. Have the person with hearing loss choose the location to meet. They can pick a place that will help with their communication with everyone. Let them choose where to sit in order to maximize their ability to hear others as best as they can.
3. Give support, rather than pity.
If someone discloses their hearing loss, don’t apologize or pity them. You can be direct by asking them what you can do to help them hear at their best and then follow their instructions.
Hearing aids are not like eyeglasses. A person with hearing loss will not have normal hearing by using hearing aids, the way that eyeglasses restore vision. Repeating yourself may be annoying, but try to stay positive and patient.
Listening to someone, when you have hearing loss requires a lot of effort. You might only catch parts of some words or phrases, so your brain is working overtime in order to piece together what was stated based on the context of the discussion. After enduring a long day of carefully listening, it can cause exhaustion. If necessary, a break and rest.
4. Exercise useful means of communication without reminders.
It may be exhausting to continually explain to those who you regularly interact with how they can help you hear at your best. You may feel as though you are nagging when frequently reminding those closest to you about what they need to do in order to make you feel included. Simply facing someone with hearing loss, with their mouth uncovered and using the previously advised means of communications, shows that they are making an effort and that they care.
5. Have someone with you during your own self-advocacy.
Someone who is hard of hearing may get tired of constantly asking a waiter to repeat the day’s specials at every restaurant, or when they need to request the closed captioning device at any theater that you attend. When there is someone to help them with these needs, it helps in understanding the struggle of hearing loss and helps that person save their energy for listening and requests for other needs.
6. Refrain from saying, “Never mind.”
It may be tiring to repeat yourself, but do not simply reply with “Never mind”, “it’s not important”, or “forget about it”. Those with hearing loss take those words as being brushed-off, scolded and insulted all at the same time. Frequently being treated in that manner can lead a person with hearing loss to isolate themselves, which can lead to depression.
When a person with hearing loss needs something repeated, rephrase what you said. You can ask them to repeat what they thought they heard in order to fill in the missing words. Sometimes the miscommunications can be humorous, so you can share a laugh with each other.
7. Test out different technology.
While hearing aids are useful, there can still be the occasional miscommunication. This is especially true in busy areas. There are always new technological advancements that are being made with hearing aids, including talk-to-text apps.
It’s a good idea to test some of them out to know what works best for you and the person with hearing loss.
If you have a loved one who is experiencing hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation. We offer a variety of hearing aid brands and styles that suit a wide range of hearing loss.