Supporting Your Loved One With Hearing Loss

Supporting Your Loved One With Hearing Loss

In Hearing Loss by Jennifer Douberly, Au.D.

With 1 in 5 people having some degree of hearing loss, you may have a loved one that lives with impaired hearing. Hearing loss is a medical condition that reduces one’s capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound. This produces a range of symptoms that make it challenging to hear and navigate communication. Hearing loss can make it tough to engage in conversations, social activities, and quality time with others. But there are ways you can provide your loved one with hearing loss with invaluable support. Practicing the following tips can support their hearing needs adn improve your relationship! 

  1. Learn more about hearing loss. Though hearing loss is the third most pervasive medical condition that people live with today, it is still widely underrecognized. Taking the time to learn more about hearing loss can better help you understand what your loved one is navigating. This includes hearing loss symptoms and ways it is experienced which can illuminate how hearing loss impacts your loved one. Learning more about hearing loss also allows you to better support, advocate, and show up for your loved one. 
  1. Encourage hearing loss treatment. Though hearing loss is the third most common medical condition that people experience today – impacting over 48 million people – it is still widely undertreated. It is estimated that only a third of people who could benefit from treatment, actually receive it. If your loved one has not addressed their hearing loss symptoms, it is important to encourage them to seek treatment. You can do this by sharing the benefits of treatment as well as the impacts of untreated symptoms – this is where your research can come in handy! It can be difficult to acknowledge changes to one’s health and there is still a stigma associated with hearing loss. So helpful ways of encouraging your loved one are to offer to get your hearing tested and attend their appointment with them. 
  1. Practice communication strategies. There are several communication strategies you can practice to support your loved one’s hearing needs. Practicing the following tips support effective and easeful communication: 
  • Grab their attention before starting a conversation. You can do this by calling their name or tapping them on the shoulder. This allows them to be ready to engage in a conversation. 
  • Maintain complete visibility by facing them while speaking. This gives access to nonverbal cues like body language and facial expressions as well as lets them read lips – a common strategy people with hearing loss often use to help follow a conversation. 
  • Rephrase rather than repeat when they haven’t heard something clearly. This provides a new set of words which may be easier for them to hear and process. 
  • Speak in a natural tone, taking short pauses between sentences. 
  • Send detailed information like addresses, times, dates etc. via text or email.
  • Regularly check-in throughout the conversation to see if you can clarify anything. 

In addition to these strategies, be sure to ask your loved one if there are other 

adjustments you can make to better support their hearing. 

  1. Reduce background noise. Another useful strategy is to reduce background noise as much as possible. Background noise makes it tough to hear for anyone and can be especially challenging for people with hearing loss. It creates additional noise that the brain has to process and filter through. This makes it harder to hear the sounds you want to hear. It also forces the brain to use more energy and resources to hear. You can reduce background noise by maintaining low volume settings on any music (or TV) playing, avoiding noisy settings like restaurants (especially during peak hours), choosing quieter places to have conversations, driving with the windows rolled up etc. 
  1. Know what to avoid. In addition to avoiding noisy settings, it is helpful to know a few other things to avoid which can make hearing more challenging. This includes projecting your voice and places with dim or poor lighting. 
  1. Be patient. It is important to be patient as your loved one learns how to navigate hearing and communication with hearing loss. This can take some time and providing support on this journey is invaluable. 

Practicing these strategies not only supports your loved one’s hearing health but it can also strengthen your relationship. Contact us today to learn more about how you can support your loved one with hearing loss.