Hearing loss tends to sneak up on us gradually. Because of this, it is pretty common for the person experiencing a hearing loss to be the last to know about it. Family members and close friends usually recognize the signs and symptoms of hearing loss early on, but dealing with your loved one’s condition can be uncomfortable and challenging. To provide you with some help in dealing with the challenges, I have compiled 5 tips for helping loved ones with a hearing loss.
Do Some Research
The best way to begin with addressing the hearing loss of your loved ones is to do some research and educate yourself on the facts. The National Institute on Deafness provides some valuable statistics to help inform you about the overall cultural impact of hearing loss, various treatment options, and treatment success rates. Having this information available will help you overcome some of the awkwardness of your impending conversation.
Be Sensitive and Empathetic
Self-worth and self-confidence are major issues involved in admitting to a hearing loss problem. Bringing up your loved one’s hearing loss at the wrong time or in the wrong way can cause them to feel depressed or isolated. Be sensitive to these feelings and approach the topic of hearing loss out of love and concern. Avoid the temptation to become pushy or insistent. Patience is a key element, because it might take a while for your loved one to come around.
Suggest a Hearing Exam
There is no easy way to suggest a hearing exam without encountering some resistance. Most people do not like to have someone else point out a weakness, regardless of your best intentions. One approach to consider is to accompany your loved one and have your hearing tested too. This can help alleviate any anxiety they might have, and it certainly can’t hurt you to take advantage of a screening as well. Another possible approach is to make the suggestion to their family doctor, who can refer them to an audiologist for testing.
Adjust Your Communication Style
Speaking to a person with a hearing loss is challenging, but you can help make things a bit easier by adjusting your communication style. Here are some quick tips:
- Make a conscientious effort to face your loved one in a well-lit room, which will enhance their ability to understand by providing them with essential visual cues.
- Maintain eye contact, slow down, and enunciate with clarity without exaggerating your lip movements or shouting.
- Avoid frustration if your loved one asks you to repeat something. Instead, make a conscious effort to speak clearly and possibly rephrase what you have said.
- Provide indications that you are changing the topic. This helps them keep up with the conversation.
Using these tips in conversation with a loved one with a hearing loss will help reduce the frustration experienced by both of you.
Be an Advocate for Hearing Loss
One way to be supportive without being pushy is to become an advocate for hearing loss. Family gatherings and social functions are events that usually produce the greatest amount of discomfort for individuals with a hearing loss. Do your best to make yourself available to accompany your loved one to events like these, where you can provide discrete assistance. In addition, assist your loved one behind the scenes by making them aware of the communication tips listed above. However, be careful about who you talk to because some people will use it for an occasion to gossip, hindering rather than helping.
These tips can help you and your loved one to cope with a hearing loss until they receive the help they need or to facilitate communication with those with advanced hearing loss. Keep in mind that some cases might take time to correct, even with assistance. Continue to be a source of support and encouragement to your loved one. Aim Hearing and Audiology understands your struggle and we are here to assist you with the support and encouragement you need to help your loved one.
Call (336) 295-1064 for more information, or contact me to receive additional support and encouragement from the Aim Hearing and Audiology family.