Ways to Accommodate Your Loved Ones with Hearing Loss

Ways to Accommodate Your Loved Ones with Hearing Loss

In Relationships, Social life, Tips and Tricks by audseo

It’s likely that one or more people in your life have challenged hearing. One in eight people over the age of 12 in the United States has hearing loss in both ears. Moreover, people who have close relationships with older adults, whether it be a peer or a family member, are more likely to encounter someone with difficulty hearing. One in three people over the age of 65 suffers from hearing loss


While much of our collective focus tends to land on the person with hearing loss, in understanding and trying to treat their hearing loss and its compounding issues, quite a large burden also falls on the people around those with hearing loss. One way that you can help to create a more easeful relationship with a loved one who has difficulty hearing is by learning the ways you can better interact and even accommodate their hearing challenges.


Speak clearly and face to face

Our world is highly verbal and it’s likely that your communication habits have evolved to suit it, built around assumptions that healthy hearing is at play. When hearing loss enters the picture, it asks us to rethink how we communicate. Instead of calling out from another room in the house or throwing a question over your shoulder, speaking to people with hearing loss requires us to use different ground rules when we are speaking.


Always speak clearly and enunciate when you are talking with your loved one. There isn’t a need to shout, even if you have to repeat yourself a few times. Increasing the volume doesn’t solve your problem. Instead, try rephrasing your point and trying different wording. It might be that the words you are choosing fall outside the frequencies they can easily hear and switching up the phrasing might give them a better chance at comprehension.


Facial expressions and the movements of your mouth help others understand what you are saying, even if a lot of that is subconsciously. When speaking with your loved one, always face them directly when speaking with them. 


How to listen better

We spend a lot of time thinking about how we can speak more clearly to our loved one with hearing loss, but what if you focused on doing more listening? There is much less effort placed upon your loved one to hear exactly what you are saying. And, you’re giving them a really invaluable space to talk about their experiences and feelings. Part of losing easy access to something as vital as healthy hearing can leave your loved one feeling unseen and unheard. Hearing loss can be a lonely place, so let your loved one know you’re up for being a sounding board or a kind ear.


Make plans with their needs in mind

Instead of planning huge gatherings at busy restaurants, consider a more intimate group at home. Large groups can be intimidating for people with hearing loss. Chaotic conversations and multiple conversation partners might produce social anxiety or feelings of overwhelm. In terms of which venues rank most challenging in terms of listening environments, restaurants are right up there with rock concerts. Between the din of chatter, loud soundtracks and plates crashing, there’s a lot of sound competition that most folks with hearing loss would rather skip. If you must dine at a restaurant, let your loved one pick the spot. People with hearing loss tend to have one or two places where the sound environment is less fraught, and they’re more likely to be able to relax.


Pack your patience

Friends and family members of people with difficulty hearing often report that it can be frustrating to be in conversation with them. But guess what? People with hearing loss also often report that conversations can be frustrating for them. The takeaway here is that everyone is feeling stretched thin adjusting to life with a different set of conditions. 


When you’ve been asked to repeat yourself for the fourth time, or if your loved one with hearing loss is particularly agitated in conversation, take a breath. Take three! Then remind yourself that as irritating as the conversation may be, hearing loss is something that your loved one must live with day in and day out. 


Pay attention to your limits

That said, you won’t always be able to summon grace in moments of great frustration. Check in with yourself now and again to see if you have enough reserves to deal with the situation, or if you might be better off retreating for a short while. Everyone needs time to refill and restore themselves and doing so will make you a better companion for your loved one with hearing loss.


Offer active support

Studies show that people with hearing loss are most motivated to seek treatment when a loved one or family member encourages them to do so. If your loved one has shown signs of struggling with hearing loss but hasn’t taken a hearing test, offer to go together. You can enlist additional friends or family members, too. Once your loved one receives a diagnosis, you can also offer to support them as they begin a journey toward a better hearing reality.