Here are a few tips to keep in mind when speaking with a friend, colleague, or family member who has a hearing loss:
Our facial expressions tell our audience a lot, and when someone is hard of hearing, that is the first thing they see. It may be necessary to repeat yourself several times. Adjust your expectations and understand it may require a few adjustments to your own life to accommodate their needs. Remember, it can be just as frustrating for them to communicate with you as it is for you to try and get your point across. Those with hearing issues are trying to piece together the information they are receiving both visually and verbally.
Make sure you have their attention
Engage loved ones that suffer from hearing loss with a visual cue before you begin a conversation. The gesture gets their attention and lets them know you have something to communicate, giving them a chance to follow you from the beginning. A gentle tap on the shoulder or waving of the hand is the most common way to get someone’s attention. Being attentive and engaged with each other during these conversations can reduce frustration on both sides.
Speak clearly and rephrase, but do not repeat
When our loved ones suffer a hearing loss, it is often a certain tone, specific sounds, or frequencies that cause these issues. Engage them with this in mind to make it easier to communicate. Enunciate your words and make it easier for them to follow. If it appears they are having trouble understanding certain sounds or combinations of words, restate the conversation, but use different phrases and combinations of words for clarity. Shouting and slow speech patterns often feel condescending and demeaning to those you are communicating with, so be aware of your tone of voice.
Take note of your environment to communicate better
At home, turn down the television, radio, or computer to make the communication process easier for all parties involved. When you are running errands and out in public, reduce distractions and search for a quieter location. Limiting external noise and excessive commotion makes it easier to retain their attention and allows you to focus on their needs.
Hearing loss is just as frustrating for you as it is for the person suffering from it. Take the time to understand the issue as it concerns your loved one’s wellbeing. Ask questions and discuss your concerns in-depth with one of our audiologists at Cornerstone Audiology. Various hearing aids can tackle this problem and improve life quality. Contact us today to learn more about the multiple services and resources available for you.