Close-up Of Female Otolaryngologist Examining Ear With Otoscope.

Supporting a Loved One with Hearing Loss 

In Hearing Loss by Jennifer Douberly, Au.D.

With nearly 1 in 6 people having some degree of hearing loss, you likely have a loved one with impaired hearing. Hearing loss can take a toll on communication and conversations which can be tough on relationships and spending quality time with others. But it is important to know that there are ways you can provide useful support that strengthens communication and better meets your loved one’s hearing needs. Practicing the following strategies are great ways to support your loved one with hearing loss: 

  • Learn more about hearing loss. Increasing your understanding and awareness of hearing loss and how it impacts your loved one is useful. This allows you to better understand how they and their communication is affected by impaired hearing and how you can better support their hearing needs. Hearing loss has multifaceted effects that can be exhausting to navigate. It requires more energy and work for people to process sound and this can contribute to fatigue, miscommunication, and even aversion to having conversations. Learning about this enables you to have greater empathy and understanding which is needed to be patient and flexible. It also alleviates the burden your loved one may feel of needing to explain their hearing loss to everyone around them. 
  • Practice communication strategies. There are specific communication strategies you can use while engaging in conversation with your loved one. The following tips can make conversations more easeful: 
  • Grab their attention before starting a conversation. You can do this by saying their name or tapping them on their shoulder. 
  • Facing them while speaking so that you maintain visibility. 
  • Reduce background noise as much as possible. 
  • Avoid multitasking during conversations so you are able to be fully present. 
  • Rephrase rather than repeat if your loved one hasn’t heard something you’ve said.
  • Pay attention to facial expressions and nonverbal cues to see if your loved one is following. 
  • Speak clearly, taking time to enunciate and taking natural pauses. 
  • Ask about their needs. In addition to practicing these communication strategies, it is important to ask your loved one about their needs. They are an expert in their hearing loss and ways their needs can best be supported. Be sure to consistently check-in by asking if there are any adjustments or changes you can make and if they need anything else. This provides them with an opportunity to share their hearing needs and provide feedback. 
  • Encourage hearing aid use. Hearing aids are essential electronic devices that provide ample support for millions of people with hearing loss. Today’s hearing aids are more innovative and advanced than ever before. Be sure to encourage hearing aid use – hearing aids should be worn during waking hours. Also encourage your loved one to look into the numerous technologies and features that hearing aids offer. This ranges from tinnitus management, to digital noise reduction, wireless connectivity, and downloadable apps where people can easily manage their hearing aid settings. These savvy features allow hearing aids to easily integrate into everyday life, sharpening sound quality and delivery in all environments. 
  • Get your hearing tested. Another great way you can support your loved one with hearing loss is to continue advocating for their hearing health. This includes encouraging regular hearing tests and check-ins with their hearing healthcare provider. You can even offer to get your hearing tested too. Hearing tests involve a painless and noninvasive process that measures hearing capacities in both ears. This identifies any hearing loss and establishes what your hearing needs are. Hearing needs can change over time which is why getting your hearing tested regularly (annually) is useful. 
  • Be Patient. Hearing loss is a life-long journey. It takes time to get used to hearing aids and a new way of hearing. It is important to remember this and to be patient and supportive with your loved one. They are likely hearing sounds they haven’t heard in quite some time and are getting familiar with hearing in this new way. Stay positive and encouraging!

Contact us today to learn more about hearing loss and ways you can support your loved one. We can also get an appointment for a hearing consultation scheduled so you can learn more about your hearing health!