Six Ways You Can Help a Loved One Cope with Hearing Loss
When someone you love experiences hearing loss, your interactions with them may begin to change. Conversations that once felt easy may now be rife with frustration and misunderstanding.
The first and best thing that you can do is to recognize that your family member is facing a change in their health that they didn’t ask for. It may be hard for them to admit that they’re experiencing any type of hearing loss, particularly if the decline came along with aging. Both of you may be unsure of how to deal with this new reality. Although it can take some adjustment, there are ways to improve on how you communicate with one another. Here are six tips for helping a loved one with hearing loss.
This support can take many forms. If your friend or family member is in the early stages of hearing loss, offer to go with them to see a hearing specialist. A screening can help determine the cause and level of their hearing loss: mild hearing loss, moderate hearing loss, or profound hearing loss. If your loved one is prescribed a hearing aid, they may need encouragement to wear it. Remind them of the benefits that the hearing aid provides and have them practice by wearing it at home.
A common symptom of hearing loss is for background noises to become distracting. People with mild to moderate hearing loss may be unable to differentiate various levels of sound. This can make conversations difficult. Try to avoid holding conversations in noisy environments. Instead, turn down the television or radio or suggest non-crowded restaurant for your lunch date. Similarly, you’ll want to avoid creating your own distractions while talking. Face your loved one directly and maintain eye contact. Try not to chew gum or cover your mouth while talking. Visual cues are helpful to those with mild to moderate hearing loss, and are invaluable to someone with profound hearing loss.
If you and another person are speaking to a person with hearing loss, be sure to take turns talking. Remember that the typical interruptions that occur in natural conversation can make it harder for someone with hearing loss to understand speech. Your individual facial expressions, mouth movements, and gestures will enable your loved one to fully take in the context of what you are saying to them.
It can be tempting to over-exaggerate your facial expressions and mouth movements. It’s often not necessary. The goal is to enhance the conversation, not to make the interaction feel unnatural. Don’t shout. Instead, speak as clearly and evenly as you can and enunciate your words. To get your loved one’s attention, use a light touch on their shoulder, use a wave of your hand, or put yourself within their line of sight. These are calm and non-startling ways to approach your loved one.
Say it again.
The person with hearing loss may frequently ask you to repeat yourself. This can be expected. You may also need to check in to see if they have understood what you said. Sometimes he or she may pretend as if they heard you, when really they didn’t. This can be one of the many coping strategies they have adapted to manage their hearing loss. If you do need to repeat yourself, keep similar phrasing and give it another go. If that doesn’t work, supplying a shorter or simpler version of what you are trying to convey might be necessary.
Coping with hearing loss is individual to each person. What works for one might not work for another. If their vision is also declining, writing down what you want to say might not work. You may need to rely more on gentle touch and try to communicate with them in well-lit spaces. And keep in mind that despite their diminished hearing, your loved one is the same person they were previously.
Adjusting to hearing loss can be hard for the sufferer and their loved ones.
Moving past the diagnosis and figuring out ways to cope with hearing loss will benefit for both of you. Communicating may be awkward at first, but it gets easier with some education and effort.
If you have questions or concerns about the hearing loss of an elderly parent or relative, please feel free to reach out to us for additional resources. It’s always our pleasure to be of assistance.
About Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services: As a leading African American-owned and operated funeral and cremation organization serving three states, Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services has provided a ministry of care to thousands of grieving families. We promise to provide our highest level of distinguished service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. In all aspects of the funeral process, we strive to be the absolute best and are honored to help preserve our clients’ legacies for future generations. With two convenient locations serving North and West Philadelphia, as well as Drexel Hill, it is always our pleasure to be of service. Please visit our website for more information.