HELLO, CAN YOU READ THIS?
Annoying, right? That is how people with hearing loss feel when they are yelled at. Speaking with a person who suffers from hearing loss can be so difficult that their loved ones give up. However, verbal communication is necessary for their well-being in addition to the health of your relationship with them. Below are some tips that can make it easier to communicate with individuals with hearing loss. These strategies can make communication more fulfilling by making the conversation more satisfying for everyone involved.
Patience is Key
As with most things in life, a little patience goes a long way. Being patient with a loved one will usually put them at ease and make them understand that you are committed to helping them. And, when it gets so frustrating that you want to scream, try to remember that it isn’t their fault and increasing the tension will only make matters worse. The following tips will help you cope with your loved one’s hearing loss, but none of them will be useful without patience. Also remember, when you make a mistake (and you will) acknowledge it, move forward, and keep trying.
Mumbling or low volume speech can confuse people who suffer from hearing loss. When you talk to them you should be sure to speak slowly and loudly, without shouting. When you speak too fast, the words can merge, and they will have difficulty processing the parts that they can here.
Technology is an excellent tool to keep in your box. There are applications for smartphones and tablets that convert speech to text. This is a perfect way to communicate with your loved one. They can then read what you said on the screen, or they can use it as a safety net in case they miss some words. You can also use phones to text important information, rather than trying to communicate multiple paragraphs through speaking.
Control the Environment
A loud, public place is not the best place to have a conversation with someone who has hearing loss. When you want to talk to them, it should be in a space where there are limited distractions. Ambient noise from machines, music players, or other conversations, can make it nearly impossible for someone with hearing loss to understand what you are saying. This Wall Street Journal article delves further into the science behind that subject.
Also, proper lighting is essential. Our faces communicate a lot during a conversation, obscuring them in shadows can make it very difficult for someone to understand what you are saying.
Establish and Maintain Eye Contact During Conversation
Keep eye contact when you are speaking, as this forms a connection between the two participants. Eyes convey a lot of emotions, and they often say as much as words do during a conversation. The look and movement of your eyes often give off cues to the other person. People rely on this for a productive discussion; it is even more critical when one of the people has a degree of hearing difficulty.
Rephrase if Necessary
Some people specifically struggle with hearing certain sounds. If you use sounds that your loved one has difficulty with, it doesn’t matter how many times you say it; they will not understand. If you run into this problem, try to rephrase what you are saying. The difference in sounds may help them to understand your point.
Ask Them to Tell You How You Did
The best way to help your loved one remain involved and engaged in conversation is to try different things and see what is most effective. They are the best person to evaluate your methods to see if they are working. They will enable you to personalize your strategies to them individually. Once you both know what works, they can tell other people in their lives how to best communicate with them.
Encourage Your Loved One to Explore Treatment Options
Hearing loss is not rare; according to the World Health Organization, approximately 466 million people have disabling hearing loss throughout the world. There is no reason for your loved one to be embarrassed about their hearing difficulties. There is also no reason to accept it without seeking treatment.
Audiologists are specialists in treating the ear. We understand hearing loss, and we can offer treatment options best suited to you. The best way to fight hearing loss is early detection. A hearing test helps us to identify problems early in their progression, and this makes it easier to treat. Your hearing health is vital; contact us to schedule a hearing test so that we can help you determine if you would benefit from treatment. Life is too short to miss out on conversations with the ones you love, schedule your hearing test today.
Dr. Kalyn Bradford is the Director of Hearing Aid Services here at Physician’s Hearing Care. She completed her externship with Physician’s Hearing Care in 2013 and subsequently joined the practice in 2014 after graduating with her doctoral degree in audiology from Louisiana Tech University. She joined PHC as a Clinical Audiologist where she performed comprehensive audiological exams and specialized in helping patients to hear better using the latest hearing aid technology available. She has carried that experience into her current role as Director of Hearing Aid Services, where she does an excellent job managing the Audiologists to ensure that all patients are treated with the best hearing care possible.