Ways to Accommodate Your Loved Ones with Hearing Loss

Ways to Accommodate Your Loved Ones with Hearing Loss

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA Uncategorized

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA
Latest posts by Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA (see all)

Hearing loss affects around 466 million people worldwide—approximately 48 million in the United States alone. It is likely that you have a friend or family member that is living with some degree of hearing loss. 

While hearing aids, assistive devices, and cochlear implants are more advanced than ever at working to correct disabling hearing loss, the element of human connection is irreplaceable. You can advocate for better understanding, quell conversation frustrations, and help a friend or family member with hearing loss feel comfortable in social settings. Here are a few tips you can use:

Encourage Them to Get a Hearing Test

If they aren’t already being treated for hearing loss, gently encourage your loved one to get a hearing test. The benefits of getting hearing aids are well-documented, and 85% of people who have them are satisfied with them. Depending on the severity of hearing loss, hearing aids may be able to restore a person’s hearing to near-normal ability. If your loved one is requiring a lot of accommodation for their hearing loss and is not currently fitted with hearing aids, it is likely that hearing aids can improve their life in myriad ways: from keeping them from falling down to being more socially active, there are many reasons to seek treatment for hearing loss immediately.

Always face your listener and get their attention first. 

Even with the help of hearing aids, hard of hearing listeners have to work harder to understand speech, especially in noisy situations. Having a moment to prepare to listen–or even a couple of seconds–can make a difference for someone with hearing loss.

With this in mind, always make sure you face your listener and get their attention before speaking. A simple touch on the shoulder is a good way to let them know you’re about to address them. Shouting from another room or talking while walking in front of or behind your conversation partner is never a good idea. 

Remember: facial expressions, gestures and the movement of your lips are all important to your hard of hearing listener, so you shouldn’t cover your mouth, chew gum or food, or smoke while talking.

Speak clearly

Speaking clearly—and not louder—is very important. Enunciating each syllable is often more helpful than shouting. The brain is processing speech and language recognition in a new way so if a loved one has asked you to repeat yourself, try to use a different word or phrase.

“Restating and rewording is a good communication strategy,” agrees Jason Wigand, an audiologist, assistant professor and clinical director of the cochlear implant program at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

Facing the person is also helpful in case they use lipreading in discussion. 

Be mindful of the environment

You have probably struggled to understand a friend at a crowded party or jam-packed restaurant. In these noisy situations, It’s 100 percent more difficult for someone with hearing loss. If you find yourself trying to converse with a hard of hearing friend in a noisy venue, there are a few simple things you can do to facilitate understanding.

  • Sit across from your hard of hearing companion, in a well-lit location, so that your face can be easily seen.
  • In a restaurant, choose a table near the wall and give your friend the wall seat, so that the background noise isn’t also coming from behind them.
  • When possible, find a quieter space to converse. In an office setting, go to a separate, quiet area and make sure to send a follow up email with a recap of the conversation.

Help them operate and maintain their hearing device

Once you have a better understanding of what your loved one is facing, you can begin to assist them with their checkups. This could include cleaning their devices or adjusting the volume. 

Some seniors need help with putting the device on and in their ear. Whatever you can do, try to be as supportive as possible. If your loved one is in the beginning stages, take it upon yourself to help them get a test. This can be one of the best things you can do for your loved one. 

Know who their doctor is and what location does the routine exams. You might find yourself searching for a clinic or facility on their behalf. Try helping as much as you can, and be there when they need you.

If your loved one  has experienced changes in their hearing or finds that communication is more difficult than before, it may be time for a hearing test. Contact us to  schedule an appointment to seek treatment. Treating hearing loss brings significant benefits to your loved one and everyone around them – including you!