We discussed tips that family members can use to help communicate with their loved one when a hearing loss is present.
There are also things for the person with hearing loss to keep in mind. While the recommended action is to undergo a hearing assessment to identify a hearing loss and invest in a solution that works for you, there are strategies that can be implemented to help with communication. These tips work well for those who currently wear hearing aids but can also be used for individuals who do not have hearing aids.
- Almost everyone with a hearing loss engages in speech/lip reading to some degree, whether they are aware of it or not. It is helpful to make eye contact so that you can see their face clearly.
- Do not try to hide that you have a hearing loss. When others are aware that you have a hearing loss, they are more likely to face you, speak clearly, and repeat when necessary, and are generally more patient and understanding.
- Ask people to repeat or rephrase if you miss what was said. You can also verify what they have said to make sure you heard or understood correctly.
- Be aware of other competing sound sources in your environment. Noise from the TV, heater or air-conditioner, radio, etc. can make it more difficult to hear the person you are communication with. If possible, turn the noises off or move to a less noisy location.
- Try to be close to the person or object you want to hear. Sitting closer to the front during a lecture for example or next to a person can be helpful.
- Anticipate your listening environment and plan ahead. Choose restaurants that are more quiet or go when it is less busy. Try to sit away from major sources of noise, such as the middle of the restaurant or near the kitchen. If you have your back to the majority of the noise, you may be able to hear more easily.
- Be patient and honest with others. If you cannot hear what someone is saying, make sure to let them know.
- Involve family members or friends when going to appointments. They can help listen to what is said in case you miss something.
If you are new to hearing aids, it takes time to get used to them, especially if the loss has been present for a long time. Many factors come in to play, the most obvious the hearing loss itself, but also the age of the person, the person’s needs and goals, and the technology within the hearing aid itself. They can all contribute to the effectiveness of hearing and communicating with a hearing aid.