4 Ways to Better Communicate with the Hearing Impaired

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Communicating with loved one with hearing loss

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.”

-Rollo May

There is no doubt that communication is a basic human need. Even our earliest ancestors found ways to communicate. Communication helps us to share ideas and thoughts. It helps us build relationships and stay connected to others. So, what happens when those in our lives are diagnosed with hearing loss? How do we keep lines of communication open?

This is such a common question for family and friends to ask when a loved one begins to experience difficulty hearing. Whether they have gotten a hearing aid yet or not, the good news is that with the right strategies, you, your family, friends, co-workers and others can communicate as effectively as ever, even with hearing loss.

How to keep the conversation going

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 37.5 million Americans report some trouble hearing. That is approximately 15% of adults aged 18 and over. That means that most of us are either hearing impaired or know someone who is. That just means it’s time to up our communication game with effective communication strategies like these:

  • Make sure you are face to face – Whether you are sitting down to a meal in a restaurant or catching up on a walk, or trying to get your spouse’s attention from the other room, wait until you are face to face with the person you are speaking to. This allows the person with hearing loss to see the full picture of lip movement and body language in addition to what they are able to hear.
  • Speak naturally and clearly – One of the biggest mistakes people can make when speaking to those with hearing loss is talking louder. Instead, speak clearly and in a natural voice. Avoid both mumbling and shouting as both can be harder to understand for someone with hearing loss.
  • Catch their attention – Before starting a conversation, get the person’s attention so they can tune in to what you’re saying. It’s as simple as saying their name, brushing their arm or giving a little wave.
  • Rephrase your point – Some words and phrases are more difficult to understand with hearing loss. If the person you are speaking to is having trouble understanding what you’re saying try rephrasing to help them better hear.

The most important thing you can do

Most importantly, be patient! Communication isn’t always easy, even for those without hearing loss. Be patient with your loved one and yourself as you both learn more effective ways to communicate.

If you believe a friend or family member is affected by hearing loss, encourage them to get a hearing evaluation. These professional tests can determine if there is hearing loss, the degree and configuration of the hearing loss, the cause of hearing loss and options to treat the hearing loss. Determining the level of hearing loss and the best ways to manage hearing loss can help everyone feel more comfortable and confident communicating.

If you have questions about hearing loss and how to manage it, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

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