If it becomes clear to you that someone you care about may be having problems with their hearing, as their friend or loved one you can play a key role in helping them deal with it. Let them know that it isn't their problem alone to deal with, but a problem that you both share. After all, communication is a two way street, and if they are missing out, so are you.
There are several things you can do to facilitate better communication if you find yourself in this situation. Obviously, the best thing you can do is accompany your friend or loved one to an appointment with an audiologist to get a diagnosis and put in place a treatment plan, but in the meantime, consider using the following communication strategies:
Make sure you have their attention
Before speaking, make sure you have the person's attention. You can start of by saying their name, tapping their arm, or making sure they see you before speaking.
Maintain eye contact
Speak face to face. Our facial expressions and body language play a key role in communication. This benefits all of us, but particularly those with hearing loss.
Speak at a normal pace, and enunciate your words clearly. While you may have to raise your voice, be careful not to shout or come across as aggressive or insulting.
Limit background noise
Try to reduce as much background noise as possible. When having a conversation, turn off any nearby radios or televisions. In a crowded environment, try to get away from the loudest noise sources if you can. For instance, at a restaurant, try not too sit too close to the kitchen as they often generate quite a bit of sound.
Don't cover your mouth when speaking
Try to keep your hands and other things away from your face when speaking. Not only can blocking your mouth muffle your speech, it can also keep the person your speaking with from reading your lips, a strategy often employed by the hearing impaired.
Don't just repeat, rephrase
If asked to repeat yourself, try not to just say the exact same thing in the exact same way. If the person had difficulty understanding your wording the first time, using shorter, simpler sentences might be more helpful.
These our just some of the ways you can help your loved ones cope with hearing loss. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us. We're here to help!