HOW TO DEAL WITH A FAMILY MEMBER WITH HEARING LOSS?
If a family member has hearing loss, there are lots of ways that you can help them to cope and make the best of their situation. Here are some easy ways to provide support to someone with hearing loss.
LEARN WHAT IT’S LIKE TO LIVE WITH HEARING LOSS
Hearing loss can put a strain on relationships. It can cause stress, hurt feelings, frustration and thanks to miscommunication and the need to repeat yourself. If you find yourself getting frustrated, it can help to learn more about what living with hearing loss is actually like. If you have can learn to have empathy for them and are able to better relate to what your family member is going through with their hearing loss, you might be better able to hold onto your patience.
Have a conversation with them and ask lots of questions to help you to better understand what they are experiencing, but there are also options in technology to help you learn more. There are lots of websites online that can simulate hearing loss so you can get a better idea of what it is actually like to lose your hearing.
BE AN ADVOCATE
A great way to be supportive is to become an advocate for your family member who is experiencing hearing loss. It can be difficult for someone who is losing their hearing to manage to hear clearly in group situations like parties, thanks to the background noise. Before events like this, it can help to call ahead to let other family members know some of your tried and tested tips to make conversation and communication go a little easier. Sit next to your family member at dinner and let them know that they can ask you if to repeat things for them if they miss anything.
You can also be an advocate in general for those with hearing loss. These could be things like checking that hotels you stay in over services and rooms equipped for those with hearing loss. If they don’t, you can suggest some changes to management that they could make.
DOS AND DON’TS
When somebody has hearing loss, communication, which is a vital part of inclusion in society, is impacted negatively. Remember that effective communication goes well beyond just speaking. Gestures and facial expressions can help to make the meaning of what you’re saying much clearer.
Whenever it is possible to do so, you should face the person you are talking too. Try to avoid covering your mouth when you’re speaking so the person can lip read if they need to. Make sure you have their attention before you start speaking. Don’t chew gum while you are speaking to someone with hearing loss, as the chewing can distort the shape of your mouth. This makes it harder to lip read, and follow what you are saying. Be aware that your family member may have a harder time than usual hearing you if they are stressed, tired, upset or ill. Be patient if this happens. Try to be flexible and be willing to hold off on a conversation until there is a better time to talk.
- Do get their attention with a tap or a wave.
- Don’t get their attention with a clap or a shout.
- Do speak to them face to face.
- Don’t speak to them with your head turned away from them.
- Do speak slowly and clearly to them.
- Don’t speak too fast or too loudly.
- Do be willing to repeat yourself or rephrase what you said.
- Don’t repeat the same thing, just louder, if they didn’t hear you.
- Do be patient and keep trying, with notes if you need to.
- Don’t get frustrated and give up. Don’t say it’s not important.
Hearing loss can happen to anyone and can be caused by lots of different things, such as a sudden loud noise, medication or just getting older. Exposure to loud noises over the years, such as going to loud concerts or working in a very loud environment, can gradually cause someone’s hearing to become damaged.
Your family member may lose the ability to hear sounds at certain pitches or may find their hearing is less sensitive in general, especially in environments with a lot of background noise. If you notice their hearing is going, they should seek medical treatment in order to protect the rest of their hearing as best as they can. To learn more about hearing loss and what can be done about it, call the Office of Dr. Richard J. Strauch, North Central Hearing Associates at (570) 724-4042.