How to Speak to a Loved One with Poor Hearing
In the U.S. about 15% of adults 18 and older have some trouble hearing, and age is the most common predictor of hearing loss. Other factors, such as illness, trauma, and exposure to loud noises, can also affect how well a person hears.
Adjusting the way you communicate with those closest to you who are experiencing hearing loss can prevent frustration and misunderstandings. Try these techniques to help your loved one during everyday conversations.
Always Be Visible
Stand or sit facing your loved one when you speak. Keep your hands away from your face so that he or she can see your mouth and use lip movements to aid in understanding. Don’t talk while eating or chewing gum, and don’t split your attention between the discussion and other tasks.
Keep the Noise Level Down
Background noise makes it harder for people with hearing loss to make sense of what you’re saying, so minimizing distractions is important. Turn off the radio or TV before starting a conversation.
When you’re in crowded public places, move to a quiet spot to talk.
Watch for Visual Cues
If your loved one appears confused or frustrated, stop talking. Ask what’s wrong, or find out if he or she understood what you’ve been saying. You may have to repeat yourself or rephrase your words.
Get into the habit of starting discussions with your loved one’s name to ensure he or she knows to whom you’re addressing your words.
Adjust Vocal Volume Appropriately
Never shout at a person with hearing loss; it’s both rude and unnecessary. You may discover you have to speak a little louder than usual, but yelling often makes things worse. Instead of raising your voice, try using different words if your loved one misses a phrase the first time you say it.
Explore Hearing Aids
Technology is available to boost hearing in one or both ears, improve sound quality and even handle streaming of music and calls from smartphones. Discuss the options with your loved one to find the right fit for his or her lifestyle.
It may take some time to work out the best communication methods to help your loved one deal with hearing loss, so be patient. Work with him or her to establish reliable routines and techniques, and seek medical help if hearing loss appears to get worse.
If you find that your hearing-impaired loved one needs more care than you can provide, Caring Home Care can help! Our certified caregivers are trained to provide assistance for your loved one at home, the doctor’s office, grocery store, or another place outside the home. Learn more about our caregivers today!