Hearing loss doesn’t have to ruin relationships. Here are a few things to keep in mind to keep those crucial lines of communication open.
Often the greatest toll hearing loss takes is on the relationships we share with our loved ones. When one is unable to hear, their ability to communicate in our highly verbal society is frequently impaired. They may miss crucial contextual cues in conversations and feel left out, or they might not realize their spouse is trying to get their attention. These seem like minor problems, but over time they gradually build into a wedge of frustration that can drive people apart. This often saddles those suffering from hearing loss with feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of thoughtfulness and care — and the following helpful tips for those suffering from hearing loss and those they are talking to — those damaged lines of communication can be salvaged.
For people with hearing loss:
- Pay careful attention to the speaker’s face. Visual cues are a major component of hearing comprehension.
- Attempt to reduce background noise. The fewer distractions your brain has to sort through, the better you’ll understand the conversation.
- Make sure you’re facing the speaker directly. Your ears are especially good at picking up sounds directly in front of your face.
- If you use hearing devices, wear them consistently. If you worry that wearing a hearing device might make you look old, just imagine how old you’ll seem constantly asking people to repeat themselves.
- Paraphrase and repeat information back to the speaker to cement it in your mind.
- Be patient. Frustration is natural, but with effort and focus, your hearing loss does not have to doom your social life.
For friends, family, and loves ones:
- Face the person you’re speaking to.
- Speak slowly and clearly, but do not exaggerate your speech and do not shout.
- Try not to block your mouth with objects or your hands, as visual cues are crucial to comprehension.
- Reduce background noise as much as possible.
- Make sure you have the other person’s attention before you start speaking. Tap their shoulder or call their name — something to make them face you before you begin.
- Be prepared to repeat information as necessary.
- Be patient. Frustration is natural, but your compassionate efforts to communicate make a world of difference.