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Is your father or mother struggling to keep up with conversations? Do they ask you to repeat yourself often, or do they complain that you are always mumbling?
Maybe when you call, they don’t always pick up the phone. While you can chalk it up to forgetfulness, it’s more likely that they didn’t even hear the telephone ringing.
Another common indication of hearing loss is that the television volume turns up way too high. When one of your parents show some of these symptoms, then you might need a few more tips up your sleeve to facilitate communication. Here are a few tips that you can use to help you connect.
Tips for improving communication
Eliminate background noise: Those with hearing loss also find it difficult to hear when the environment involves a lot of noise. Distractions such as a TV or a music speaker may also mean that focusing on the conversation can be more difficult for the individual. Before starting your conversations, step away from distractions or into a quieter place.
Get their attention first: Gain the attention of the parent before starting to speak. People with hearing loss are often more dependent on using visual signals to help them understand, so face them whilst talking. If you need to turn to the side or move away, stop talking until you can once again face the person.
Keep your mouth in plain view: Consider keeping your hands away from your face while talking. Through keeping your mouth and face visible, you can facilitate easier lipreading should your parents need it, which helps to strengthen the understanding of speech.
It’s important not to shout during the conversation, talk about food in your mouth, or chew gum while talking to someone with hearing loss. Note thick beards and mustaches can cover your ears too.
Use facial expressions and gestures to your advantage: Through adding natural gestures and ensuring you use correct facial expressions, you can help to bring more meaning to your voice.
Avoid one-word answers: A single-word “yes” response can sound strikingly similar to a one-word “no” answer for a person with hearing loss. This is particularly true in background noise, or when the listener cannot see the face of the speaker.
Alternatively, practice saying phrases like, “Yeah, I did,” or “No, we weren’t.” These extra syllables require no time and go a long way to help the listener understand what you’re saying. Those with hearing loss will take advantage of more words to get the sense.
But “cannot” is easier to understand than “can’t,” which is quickly mistaken for “can” and can lead to unfortunate results if you’re not careful.
Pronounce words clearly: Speak plainly but without shouting. But also remember not to mumble, as this can be hard to understand. Speak at average speed, not too quick or too slow. Using pauses to allow the person time to process speech. Make it obvious when you are switching to a new topic.
Take turns talking: Family dinners can quickly turn into raucous affairs, with multiple people talking at once. Remind your family that they will have to suppress their enthusiasm for a few minutes if they want your dad to hear, and take turns talking. It’s no wonder your dad gets lost in a noisy atmosphere with many conversations flying around the table and ends up spending most of the meal sitting in silence.
Book them a hearing consultation
When your parent is ready to have their hearing tested, call us to book a hearing test. If the tests show a hearing loss, hearing aids can improve communication greatly between them and the rest of the world.
Modern hearing aids are advanced mini-computers that fit into small, almost invisible devices that can go behind the ear. Others go deep inside the ear. Most new devices have Bluetooth technology which makes it possible to connect to other devices such as smartphones.
When you want to communicate with people with hearing loss, you need patience, empathy, and the ability to concentrate. Luckily, not all is lost, and with a little help, you can continue to maintain those precious connections with your loved ones.