Communicating with a Hearing Impaired Loved One
It can be difficult to empathize with a loved one who has hearing loss, especially when your own hearing has no problems. This is why some audiologists can help you step into the shoes of the hearing impaired individual by playing a recording that imitates the hearing experience of the person with hearing loss. This can help you understand what your hearing impaired loved one is going through.
Audiologists can also discuss the various types of hearing devices and why a specific device was chosen for your loved one. Even though there are times when relatives with good intentions bring up the idea of opting for other types of “better” hearing devices when they come across an advertisement, the conversation with the audiologist can help them understand why certain devices may be unsuitable for your loved one’s particular hearing loss.
Your loved one can also undergo aural rehabilitation to help equip them with strategies to improve their efficiency of communication as well as working on their listening skills. People who obtain cochlear implants or new hearing devices can encounter long-forgotten sounds that can be overwhelming. These rehabilitation services can help you reacquaint your loved one with the noisy world that we currently live in and help them develop new types of listening abilities.
Other methods such as assistive listening devices like the ones located within televisions, telephones, conference microphones, or personal FM systems can help your loved one gain additional tools to improve their hearing.
Your loved one does not need to depend only on their hearing to communicate. You can also use visual cues to emphasize what is being said. The use of body language, facial expressions, posture and proximity can provide additional clues about the context and tone of the conversation. Your loved one can thereby compensate for their lack of hearing through the use of their eyes.
Hearing impaired individuals can also benefit from speech-reading training that is geared at providing formal instructions regarding the way in which sounds are formulated and what they visually look like on the speaker’s lips. This helps a hearing impaired individual distinguish words through lip-reading and enables them to decipher what is being said in a conversation.
When communicating with a loved one with hearing loss, it is primarily important to gain their attention before you say anything to them. It is also important not to yell at them or keep repeating the same thing if you can make out that they can’t hear you either way, since this adds to frustration from both sides. Instead, you can try rephrasing what you are trying to say using different words that are easier to understand. Face the hearing impaired person directly and make sure you make eye contact with them before communicating. You can use hand gestures and/or facial expressions to help emphasize what you are attempting to say.
It may be time to rearrange some of the furniture in your home to accommodate your hearing impaired loved one. If certain furniture leaves them with your back turned towards you, it is obvious that effective communication will not be taking place. Make sure that the furniture is arranged in a manner that facilitates conversation and enable each speaker to have a full facial view at all times. You may also choose to change the lighting to provide clearer visual abilities, and you can also add a carpet since they can absorb distracting noise such as the shuffling of feet. Adding a visual alerting device can also help alert your loved one when someone rings the doorbell.
At restaurants you can request your server to provide you and your hearing impaired loved one with a table that is located far from the restaurant kitchen. Make sure you face your hearing impaired loved one directly so sit opposite them at the table to help maximize the flow of conversation.
Proximity can play a factor in maximizing audibility, so attempt to locate yourself between 3-6 feet of the person with hearing loss when you are having a conversation with them. Enunciating your words clearly and slowly can also help facilitate easy conversation. Use fewer words and keep your statements brief and simple when communicating. Refrain from speaking into the ear of the hearing impaired individual since this tends to detract from any visual cues and can further distort speech. Maintaining a positive approach when dealing with your hearing impaired loved one can go a long way in helping them feel at ease and also help you bond with them at a deeper level.