Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

Dr. Marina E. Kade Hearing Health, Hearing Loss

Dr. Marina E. Kade

Hearing loss makes it tough to communicate with loved ones. If you have a family member with hearing loss, they may ask you to repeat yourself or to speak up. Don’t get discouraged! You can still enjoy conversations with your loved ones. Use these tips for communicating with someone with hearing loss.

Make Sure You’re in the Right Environment

First things first. Check the lighting. Make sure you can see each other’s faces. Turn on enough light that you’re not straining to see facial expressions. If you’re in a social setting, make sure that everyone’s faces are visible. For example, you can sit at a round table to make communication easier.

Next, think about the sound. Is the radio or TV on? Turn down the volume, or turn off distracting background noise. Having a conversation in the quiet will be much easier for everyone. That’s because our ears and brain have to work harder to separate background sounds from speech sounds. Reducing the background sound will make it easier for your loved one to hear you. 

Do’s and Don’t of Communicating with Hearing Loss

Once you’ve adjusted the room to make sure everyone can see and hear clearly, these tips will help you during the conversation:

  • Get their attention: Don’t start speaking until you have your loved one’s attention. You can say their name before launching into a story or make eye contact to make sure they’re listening.
  • Keep your hands away from your face: Keep your hands away from your mouth, and don’t cover your mouth while speaking. If you’re chewing or yawning, stop talking for a moment. It’s much harder to understand what’s being said if your face or mouth is covered.
  • Sit near your loved one: If you’re having a one-on-one conversation, don’t speak from across the room or from another room. Sit or stand close by so that they can easily focus on the conversation.
  • Don’t shout: It’s tempting to raise your voice, but shouting will not make it easier for your loved one to hear you. Speak loudly and clearly, but don’t yell. This can distort the sounds and make it harder to understand the words.
  • Rephrase what you said: If you’re asked to repeat yourself, don’t repeat exactly the same words. Instead, try rephrasing what you said. This gives your loved one a better chance of understanding the meaning you’re trying to communicate rather than getting hung up on one word.
  • Stay away from long phrases: Sometimes a word at the end of the sentence can help your loved one fill in the blanks where they missed a word. Keep your sentences short, and leave small pauses between thoughts. This gives your loved one time to catch up, and an opportunity to ask for clarification if they misunderstood something.
  • Watch body language: Is your loved one nodding when you think they should shake their head? Maybe their facial expression isn’t what you expected. Pay attention to body language since this can let you know if your loved one misheard you.
  • Use paper: When sharing important information, like a phone number, an address, or an appointment, write it down. Using paper can simplify communication and avoid frustration. 
  • Start with the topic: Before starting a conversation, let your loved one know the topic. When they’re clued into the topic it will be easier for them to follow the conversation from the start. 
  • Use hand gestures: Sometimes using hand gestures and body language can help you get your point across.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is ask your loved one what they need to help them hear. They may let you know which ear is their good ear or suggest a different seating arrangement. Asking what they need makes it easier for them to ask for any accommodations that will help make the conversation easier. 

Treating Hearing Loss

If your loved one is having a hard time communicating with hearing loss, encourage them to book a hearing test. Treating hearing loss can change everything, making it easier to communicate at home and at social events. You can even offer to go to the appointment together. Visit us today and find out more about your hearing health.