Ways to Accommodate Your Loved Ones with Hearing Loss
Navigating hearing loss can be challenging. There are countless ways you can accommodate your loved one who has imparied hearing. Making specific and simple adjustments can maximize their hearing capacity, supporting them as they participate in conversations with greater ease. This not only strengthens communication but also your relationship. A few helpful tips include the following:
Practice effective communications strategies. There are numerous ways you can create the conditions for effective communication. Strategies you can practice to maximize your loved ones hearing capacity include:
Get their attention before starting a conversation. Simple ways you can do this are by calling their name or tapping them on the shoulder. This allows them to be ready for the conversation.
Face them while speaking. This gives them access to nonverbal cues like hand gestures, facial expressions, and other movements that amplify what you are saying, making it easier to follow the conversation. Facing your loved one also allows them to see your lips which is helpful because lip reading is a common strategy people with hearing loss use to help identify words.
Rephrase rather than repeat. If they’ve struggled to hear something you’ve said, try rephrasing rather than repeating. Using a new set of words increases the likelihood that they will be able to better hear and process what you are saying.
Speak clearly. Be sure to fully enunciate your words and take pauses to provide time to process what you are saying.
Know what to avoid. Part of practicing effective communication strategies is also knowing what to avoid. This includes:
Background noise: background noise can be distracting. It creates additional noise for the ears and brain to have to process which can take more energy and also distract from what you want to hear. Reduce background noise as much as possible by eliminating any audio playing, powering off devices that you aren’t using, and avoiding places during peak hours.
Multitasking: doing things like texting or cleaning while you are trying to have a conversation can not only be distracting and create more noise, but it can also prevent you from being fully visible. Maintaining clear visibility so that your loved one can see you is important.
Shouting: people often assume that they can just speak louder so that their loved one can better hear them. But projecting your voice can actually distort and muffle sound, making it more challenging to hear. Instead, speak in a normal tone and focus on fully annunciating and pausing.
Speaking for them: be sure to not speak for your loved one. Rather, repeat something they haven’t heard so that they are able to respond themselves.
Maximize technology. Utilizing technology to support communication and hearing is a great way to increase accessibility. There are several technologies you can tap into that support hearing. This includes:
Closed captioned services: this translates audio into text, allowing your loved one to read what is being said. This is especially helpful when applied to tv programming and movies.
Texting & emailing: sending detailed and important communications via text or email is a great way to ensure that your loved one has the correct information.
Hearing aid compatible phone: there are phones that are designed to pair with hearing aids, making it much easier to talk on the phone while wearing hearing devices.
Regular check-in. It is important to ask your loved one what their hearing needs are and if they are being met during your conversations. This should be an ongoing practice you engage in which incites them to share what works and what doesn’t work for them. Effective communication involves all parties so regularly checking-in is a great way to ensure that they are feeling comfortable and are hearing well.
Be patient and learn more. It takes time to adjust to hearing loss and wearing hearing aids. People have to navigate their different environments and practice communicating to identify the strategies that work best for their hearing. So being patient and understanding is a great way to be supportive. You can also take the time to learn more about how they experience hearing loss by attending their appointments and even having your hearing tested!