Hearing impairment is challenging not only for the person affected, but also for their friends and family. Communication can be more difficult when someone is unable to hear you clearly. This may be especially apparent during the current COVID-19 pandemic if you are quarantined in your home and struggling to communicate. Luckily, there are many things that you can do to help make it easier for your loved one with hearing loss to understand you.
Here are some effective strategies for communicating with someone with a hearing impairment:
Speak at a Normal Volume
Many people think that shouting or talking more loudly will make it easier for someone with hearing problems to understand them. This is not actually the case. Sensorineural hearing loss impacts how a person’s ears communicate with their brain, so in many cases they will be able to hear speech, but have difficulties understanding it. Yelling tends to distort sounds and make communication even harder. It is best to speak at a normal, consistent volume. Don’t mumble or whisper, but don’t raise your voice more than usual either.
Get Your Loved One’s Attention
If your loved one is not hearing you, it may be important to get their attention before you start speaking. This helps to make sure they know that you are talking to them. A good way to do this is to touch their hand, arm, or shoulder. You should make eye contact to confirm that they are listening before you start a conversation.
Clear Visual Signals
A large portion of communication is nonverbal. This includes your facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language. These signals are especially important when you’re talking to someone with a hearing impairment. To make it easier for your loved one to use nonverbal clues to understand what you are saying, try to maintain eye contact throughout the conversation. Additionally, try to keep your hands away from your face. This both allows them to see your facial expressions more clearly and can make it easier for them to read your lipsif necessary.
Reduce the Level of Background Noise
One of the major impacts of sensorineural hearing loss is that it becomes more difficult to understand when more than one person is talking at once or if the environment is noisy. To help reduce the impact of this, it is best to eliminate other sounds as much as possible. While you are talking to someone with hearing loss, turn off the television, radio, or any other sources of noise.
Rephrase Instead of Repeating
If your loved one has asked you to repeat yourself more than once, try rephrasing your statement or question instead of saying the same thing again. Sensorineural hearing loss can make certain sounds more difficult to hear and understand than others. This means if a hearing impaired individual is having trouble understanding a particular phrase, there may be sounds that are causing this difficulty. Finding a new way to get your point across can often make communication easier.
Treatment for Hearing Loss
In addition to these strategies, hearing aids and other treatments can make an immense difference in the ease of communication for those with hearing loss. For communication over the phone, this can be especially helpful since other strategies may not be as effective.
Audiology in Your Own Home
If you or someone you love is suffering from hearing loss, Alltones Audiology can help. We bring our services directly to you through telehealth consultations and home visits. This allows you to get the help you need in the comfort of your own home. We can assist you throughout the entire aural rehabilitation process, which includes helping you develop more effective communication strategies.