If you or a loved one has hearing loss, you’ve experienced the difficulty of communicating effectively. You try to speak clearly, and make sure your loved one has understood you, but sometimes it seems that they can’t understand you, and you wish you knew how better to communicate. Here are a few tips on how to communicate more clearly with your loved ones with hearing loss.
Why Communication is Important
Clear communication is one of the most important parts of any relationship or family. If you can’t express yourself, or you feel like your loved one can’t understand anything you’ve said, communication breaks down, and you lose the closeness that makes your relationship so special. This can be frustrating, scary, and heartbreaking for everyone involved, and leads to social anxiety, stress, and even depression. Sadly, hearing loss often goes untreated for years, and during that time relationships will suffer even more. That’s why finding ways to have better communication with people with hearing loss is so important.
Encourage your Loved One to Open up
Even if your loved one wears a hearing aid, communication can be improved in a number of ways. If your loved one has hearing loss, encourage them to open up, and share their struggles with family and friends. When people are aware of their hearing loss, communication will be improved. Your family and friends want to have a great relationship with your loved one with hearing loss, and if they know that your loved one is struggling to hear, they’ll gladly do everything then can to help them communicate. Your friends will be more willing to repeat themselves, especially in a noisy environment or on a phone call, and if they understand what’s happening, they’re less likely to get upset or frustrated, or feel ignored when your loved one hasn’t heard them. If your loved one opens up about their hearing loss, friends and family will be more patient, and make communication easier.
Get on Their Level
If you want to have a clear conversation with someone with hearing loss, get on their level. If they’re sitting down, pull up a chair. Always face the person straight on, and make sure you’re not too far away. Staying close will help your loved one hear, and being on the same level and facing them directly will allow them to read your body language or facial expressions. This will give context to a sentence or phrase they couldn’t quite hear, and aid communication.
Take Turns Speaking
If you’re having a group conversation around the dinner table, it can be extremely difficult for your loved one to follow what’s been said. Your family may get excited, all talk at once, or interrupt each other. To help your loved one with hearing loss, always take turns speaking. Make sure your loved one is at the head of the table so that they can see everyone, and easily participate in the conversation.
It’s common to change the way we speak when communicating with someone with hearing loss. We might speak very slowly, or speak extremely loudly. While you might think these two strategies are helping your loved one, the truth is that this will make it harder for them to understand what you’ve said. Speaking very loudly can distort the sounds, and make your loved one feel as if you’re angry at them. And speaking very slowly can stretch out the words, and make speech difficult to understand.
Say your loved one’s name before speaking to make sure you have their attention before you launch into a conversation. Always speak clearly, and don’t yell. Finally, try adding in pauses after phrases to make sure you’re loved one has understood what you’ve said.
My Hearing Centers
Successful conversation is a team effort, so use these tips to make sure your loved one is involved in the conversations, and that your entire family is utilizing clear communication strategies. Then, encourage your loved one to get hearing devices, and change the way they hear. At My Hearing Centers, our team of hearing health specialists will work with your loved one to find the device that perfectly matches their hearing needs, and will have them communicating with ease from the moment they slip the hearing aids into their ears.