It is estimated that one in eight people 12 years and older in the United States suffer from hearing loss in both ears. This makes the likelihood that someone close to you may be dealing with this condition. Even if your loved ones are treating their hearing loss, they still may need certain accommodations in order for their comprehension to be optimal. Let’s review a few things you can do for the people in your life to hear their best.
Strategies for communicating with people with hearing loss
For people with hearing loss, it is common for the loss of certain consonants, tones or pitches to diminish first. Hearing loss is progressive meaning that these gaps in comprehension only become more severe. This causes the brain to work overtime to interpret sounds around you with limited information. However, you can help your loved ones with hearing loss, whether they are a family member, significant other, co-worker or friend, by employing certain strategies to make it easier for them to hear what you are saying.
Make sure their view is clear
When hearing suffers other senses can compensate. Clear vision plays an important role for people who struggle to hear clearly. For one thing, they may be able to read lips in order to understand more clearly what you are saying. Speak clearly at a level pace so the listener has time to use lip reading to help them understand. Another key factor in a clear view is facial expression and body language. These emotional cues can help the listener to understand the intent of the speaker. Be sure not to try to speak to someone with hearing loss from another room, as this provides no visual clues for the hearing impaired. If you are trying to speak to someone with hearing loss, choose a well-lit setting so they can see you.
Get the listeners attention first
It is important that your loved one with hearing loss is aware and ready to listen. It takes extra effort to listen with hearing loss so they must be ready in order to get the best results. Make sure to get their attention by tapping their shoulder or catching their eye before speaking. Maintaining eye contact can make sure that you are both on the same page around what is heard and what may need to be clarified.
Rephrase rather than repeat
One of the most common signs of hearing loss is the need to constantly ask people to repeat themselves. It is okay to repeat yourself but if you have tried more than once, take care not to get frustrated. Because the hearing issue maybe around a certain tone or pitch try rephrasing instead of repeating yourself. Make sure you speak evenly and enunciate your words, so the listener has time to understand what you are saying. There is no need to raise your voice as this can actually distort the sound and confuse lip reading.
Be aware of the listening environment
For people with healthy hearing, it is easy for your brain to prioritize the sounds you want to hear, such as someone speaking to you in a crowd while sending the other sounds to the rear of consciousness. For people with a hearing impairment, this can be much more challenging. Be aware of the listening space you are trying to speak to your loved one in. Turn down the radio or turn it off. Wait to run the dishwasher till after you are done speaking. If your loved one is having trouble hearing in a loud environment try moving somewhere else to talk if you can’t decrease the noise.
Hearing aids can help
While hearing aids cannot restore your hearing to its full potential, they do help amplify sounds and make it much easier for people to participate and connect to the people they love. However, of those who could benefit from hearing aids, only 20% have ever used them. Don’t be part of this statistic. Make an appointment to have your hearing tested today and get back to connecting and communicating with the people in your life, in a clear way again.