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Communication breakdowns are inevitable, particularly when communicating with those who have hearing loss. Through the use of advanced hearing aids and our 6 easy steps you and your loved one can breakdown those barriers!
1. Create a distraction-free listening environment
It is easier for hearing aid users to communicate in a quiet, well-lit environment. Always speak to your loved one from the same room and try to minimize extraneous noises. When in a noisy restaurant, request a booth along the perimeter of the room.
2. Get their attention
Always gain the listener’s attention prior to beginning a new conversation. A hearing aid allows them to “hear” your voice, but their brain needs to be focused and ready to “listen”. The most effective way to gain their attention is simply saying their name. If they do not respond, move closer to them and gentle tap their arm or shoulder.
3. Incorporate visual communication
Nonverbal communication can greatly improve communication when in difficult listening environments. The next time you have a communication breakdown consider the following:
- Face the hearing aid wearer directly
- Move closer to your loved one- optimal lip-reading ability occurs at a distance of 5 feet
- Use natural hand gestures
- Keep hands away from your face
- Avoid talking with food in your mouth
- Beards and mustaches may hide lip-reading cues
4. Speak naturally
When speaking to someone with a hearing loss, remember to use clear speech. Shouting or using exaggerated mouth movements can make sounds harder to understand. Instead, consider using a distinct voice and pausing between sentences.
5. Check for understanding
Be sure to acquaint your loved one with the general topic of the conversation. Certain words or phrases can be particularly difficult to understand when you have a hearing loss. Instead of repeating yourself over and over, consider rephrasing the statement to allow for easier communication.
If possible, provide pertinent information in writing and have your loved one repeat specific information back to you.
6. Patience is key
Even after following our tips for successful communication, your loved one may have difficulty understanding in certain situations. Take a deep breath and imagine the frustration that they experience everyday while living with a significant hearing loss.
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By Dr. Nicole Schott, Au.D.,CCC-A