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  • Writer's pictureWidex Emirates Hearing Care

How to Support Someone with Hearing Loss?


helping someone with hearing loss
Image Credit: Freepik

Your spouse, friend, or coworker has hearing loss. What is the best method to deal with this situation?

There are plenty of ways and communication techniques to help them cope with their situation and thrive. Have a look at how to provide support and help to someone with hearing loss:

 

Successful communication in any kind of relationship requires the efforts of all the people around. People dealing with hearing loss cases in relationships should get involved in the communication process and consistently use good communication strategies. The challenges presented in hearing loss affect both the person experiencing it and all those around.

There are many tips that we can use to deal with people with hearing loss. To improve communication with them, we can:

 

  • Attract their attention before starting our conversation with them.

 

  1. When talking to people experiencing hearing loss, do not talk from another room. Not being able to see each other when talking makes it very difficult to understand what is being said.

  2. Start the conversation by saying the person’s name before beginning the conversation. This makes the listener give you their attention and reduces the chance of missing words at the beginning of the conversation.

  3. Avoid touching the person or tapping them on the shoulder to get their attention. This could be startling to some, especially if they didn’t hear you approach them.

 

  • Face them when we speak to them.

 

When a person has a hearing impairment, oral communication becomes difficult. The vital functioning of participating in society is negatively affected. That is why it is crucial to face the person when talking. Facing directly, being on the same level, and sitting in a good light whenever possible helps a lot in improving the communication channel between them. A puzzled look on their face may indicate misunderstanding. Facing them would help in understanding what they heard and if they heard it right.

 

  1. Use gestures and facial expressions that improve the meaning of the message.

  2. Position yourself so that the light is shining on you and not in the eyes of the listener.

  3. Keep the mouth uncovered.

  4. Do not chew gum while you are talking. It distorts the shape of the mouth, making lipreading more difficult.

 

  • Learn more about this condition.

 

Getting to know what it is like to live with a hearing problem and how we can support someone with this problem helps a lot in understanding our loved ones and increasing our patience towards them.

Hearing loss can put a strain on our relationships, causing stress and frustration over miscommunication. Having empathy and relating to what the other person is experiencing with hearing loss can help a lot because it shows a clear picture of what the world sounds like for a person suffering from hearing loss.

 

On the other hand, learning the risks of untreated hearing loss is very important. It leads to many negative effects, such as social anxiety, clinical depression, self-isolation, and even cognitive decline.

Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss in older adults increases the chances of developing dementia.

 

  • Try to reduce any background noise when having a conversation.

 

Choosing a quiet place could be an option. Many people with hearing impairments have greater difficulty in understanding speech in a noisy environment. That is why minimizing unnecessary noise when talking helps a lot.

Others are very sensitive to loud sounds and they have reduced tolerance for them. That is why avoiding such situations is a helpful step.

 

Busy places like restaurants or cafes can be very difficult, so before starting a conversation, assess the environment and if necessary, wait to have the conversation later. When in public or outside, wait for large groups or noisy distractions to dissipate rather than trying to shout over them so that the person can hear you.

Advising them to wear hearing aids can help a lot because they amplify sounds and reduce background sounds by filtering out unwanted sounds.

 

  • Speak clearly and slowly.


hearing loss support
Image Credit: Freepik

Enunciation is crucial when talking to someone with hearing loss. It ensures that consonants or consonant blends that are usually hard can be heard correctly. Speaking TOO slowly and exaggerating the syllables can make them hard to understand as well. Instead, keeping your speech patterns natural can help a lot, especially when you avoid slurring or rushing the words. How can we talk and help someone with hearing loss?

 

  1. Make sure to speak slowly, clearly, distinctly, and naturally at a normal volume. If you raise your voice too much, it would be difficult for the person facing you to hear and understand, since the sound can be distorted. Shouting or exaggerating mouth movements makes the speech reading more difficult.

  2. Avoid using sentences that are too complicated.

 

  • Be patient.

 

  1. Whenever you talk to someone with hearing loss, you should stay calm and show patience. Do not get annoyed and think, “Never mind” or “It’s not important, forget it.” This makes the person with hearing loss feel way worse. Do your best to get rid of any miscommunication.  

  2. Rephrase rather than repeat when having a conversation. It’s easier for the person to understand using a wide variety of words that are easier to hear.

  3. Pause between sentences or phrases. Wait and make sure that the person facing you is understanding what is being said before going on.

 

  • Try and ask them what helps them.

 

Listening to them is very important because in this case, they will guide us to the best way they prefer to better communicate with each other and not let them feel bothered by our behavior.

For example, if the hearing-impaired listener has a problem in one ear or hears better in one than the other, try to remember that so you know where to position yourself.

 

  • Attend hearing care appointments.

 

If the person with hearing loss is a closed one, give support to them by being involved in their hearing care appointments. This will not only show how much you care about their hearing, but it will also give them a chance to ask the hearing care professional or audiologist about their hearing loss.

You can jot down vital information and share all your observations about your loved one’s hearing loss.

 

  • Suggest auditory rehabilitation.

 

Family members who are impacted by hearing loss can search for aural rehabilitation or auditory training for their loved ones. These classes focus on improving communication for people adjusting to cochlear implants or hearing aids, or just for those who are living with hearing loss. They:

 

  1. Help people adjust to their situation, by providing communication tips and counseling.

  2. Assist people with hearing loss to interpret visual cues and improve their lipreading skills.

  3. Provide tips for handling challenging conversations.

  4. Educate people with hearing loss on their legal rights to accommodations in the academic environments and the workplace.

  5. Help people learn how to adapt to hearing aids and cochlear implants.

 

  • Advocate for communication aids.

 

Incorporating specific communication tools and techniques into daily interactions can make a significant difference.

 

  1. Write down reminders.

  2. Share a calendar as a reference.

  3. Be free and ready to accompany your loved one or friend to important meetings and appointments. This can help to alleviate their stress or anxiety about not being able to hear important information.

  4. Support accommodations such as captioning or assistive listening devices because they can help to fully participate in discussions.

 

If you care for someone with hearing loss, your understanding and support can play a critical role in fostering the relationship and enhancing the quality of life. Use the tips above to support and help your loved ones with hearing loss, thus creating an inclusive environment for them and showing them all the support and love they seek from you. Start the change today!

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