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If someone you know experiences hearing loss, they will likely experience many emotional changes in all aspects of their lives. Conversations can be hard to follow, it can feel overwhelming to be in crowded spaces, and otherwise “simple” or regular activities such as having a one-on-one conversation with a loved one can become challenging.
Loss of hearing can have a profound impact on their ability to feel engaged and connected to their family. The disconnection felt by people with hearing loss is sometimes compounded by friends and loved ones who don’t understand the hearing loss experience.
If you want to know how to make communication easier for them, here are just a few helpful techniques to try out.
Encourage them to get a hearing aid
If they don’t have hearing aid already, that should be the first step, as this will help improve their ability to understand others greatly. Talk about all the impressive features hearing aids have nowadays. Did you know that Bluetooth hearing aids exist? Wearers need not take their hearing aids out to listen to their favorite music or talk on their mobile. Hearing aids are also tailored to the hearing loss needs of the patient.
Don’t let feelings get in the way
The standard way to obtain hearing aids is with an initial hearing test. Do not tell them that they need to have their hearing tested while you are in a frustrating situation. Calm down and then give them actual examples of why you know they’re having trouble: the TV volume is too loud; you’ve had to repeat what a shop clerk told them or they don’t want to go out to a restaurant or visit with friends anymore.
Face them, and get their attention before speaking
Even with the assistance of hearing aids, listeners hard at hearing need to work harder to understand speech, particularly in noisy environments. Having time to prepare to listen can make a difference for someone with hearing loss.
This in mind, makes sure you always face them and get their attention before they talk. A simple touch on the shoulder is an excellent way to let them know that you are about talking to them. It is never a good idea to call out from another room or speak while not face to face with your partner.
Using the right facial expressions, gestures, and making sure your mouth is visible can be critical to your listener’s ease of communication, so you shouldn’t cover your mouth, chew gum or food, or smoke while talking.
It is essential to speak clearly-and, not louder. It is also more practical to enunciate each syllable than to yell. If you’ve been asked by a loved one to repeat yourself, try using a different word or sentence.
“Restating and rewording is a healthy communication technique,” says Jason Wigand, an audiologist, assistant professor and clinical director of the cochlear implant program at the University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health in Columbia.
Help them deal with the emotions related to hearing loss
Those with hearing loss can sometimes feel isolated and depressed since contact becomes so inherently frustrating. Ask them to share their hearing loss experience and what they feel like living with hearing loss. This is a way to support them and give them away to air their feelings, or even just an opportunity to be heard and understood for their trials.
Don’t be a human hearing aid
Although the communication tips mentioned earlier are useful, the fact is that if you are accommodating someone who hasn’t yet sought treatment for their hearing issues, there is a limit to how much you accommodate your loved one before you become an enabler of their hearing loss.
It might seem like you are helping when you echo everything that’s said to them, but you’re not. You are keeping them in denial that there’s a problem. By excessive repeating and repeating, it prolongs how long it takes for them to admit it is time to have their hearing checked, and that should be the main aim for someone with hearing loss.