Improving Communication with Your Family

Improving Communication with Your Family

In Communication by Dr. Robert Hooper Au.D.

Living with a family member with hearing loss can be a challenging and frustrating experience. Hearing loss and hearing issues impact the entire family and family dynamic. The best remedy is, of course, getting a hearing evaluation and hearing aids at Ear-Tronics. Sometimes, that’s a goal that takes some coaxing. You can offer to go with and stay with the family member during the exam. Be supportive and non-judgmental. Emphasis the positive of getting treatment and all the things the family member will be able to do again if their hearing is corrected.

Hearing Loss in America

As the population ages and people live longer, it is more likely you will know someone facing the challenges of hearing loss or it could be you experiencing hearing loss. Studies show that by 2020 more than 44 million adults in the United States, age 20 and older, will have what doctors call “clinically meaningful” hearing loss. That number is likely to double by 2060. Hearing aid technology is improving and advancing every day. But no one’s hearing is perfect with hearing aids so there are some ways to keep the communication lines open if you are regularly interacting with someone that has hearing loss.

Communication Strategies

Don’t be shy about telling those you need to communicate with that you may have hearing difficulties. The first thing to remember is, don’t take problems personally, if there is someone who is less than helpful when it comes to communication strategies – just take it in stride. Being angry will just frustrate you and it won’t help.

Be pro-active about getting the attention of a listener. Say their name and then wait for them to look at you before you continue speaking. This gives them a better chance to concentrate on you and what you are saying. Reducing background noise, like muting the television or turning down the radio will also help.

If you are speaking to someone with hearing aids, remember they still might be relying, in part, on lip reading and facial cues as aids. Don’t just assume someone with hearing aids has 100% hearing and can understand what you are saying if you aren’t looking at them. Speak clearly, don’t shout, don’t cover your mouth with your hand. If you have long hair and it swings near your face, try and keep it away from your mouth.

Concentrate on Clearer

When you are talking to someone with hearing loss, enunciating each syllable rather than just speaking louder. Clear does not mean exaggerated. If you slow your speech way down it will change the way you look and hamper lip-reading cues. It is very helpful if you add pauses between phrases to give the hearing-impaired person time to process what is being said.

More is better. A person with hearing loss can better understand and process information if you speak in complete sentences and not one-word answers. Instead of just “yes” try “yes, I did” or “no, we didn’t.” Try and avoid contractions. If you have hearing loss those extra syllables can help you better gather the meaning of the conversation.

Get Closer and Rephrase If Necessary

In challenging hearing environments such as restaurants, parties or large group gatherings, talk to the person with hearing loss face-to-face. At home, try and keep the background noise to a minimum during conversation. Yelling from the next room and expecting them to understand is not likely.
Lighting is also important.  A dimly lighted room makes it harder for the person to see your lips and pick up visual cues.

If someone doesn’t understand what you are trying to say, rephrase what you said, don’t just repeat keep repeating it. For instance, if they didn’t understand “is it time to go to the store?” try “we are leaving for the store now.” Stay on topic and don’t string three or four thoughts together in once sentence.

Show Your Support

Everyone adjusts to hearing aids differently. And everyone needs to be patient. If you are a family member of a person who resists wearing their hearing aids once they get them – be very encouraging and supportive when they do wear them. We are ready to help with strategies and tips for better hearing communication at Ear-Tronics. If hearing aids need to be adjusted, we can do that, too.