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Embracing the Journey: Supporting Loved Ones with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can have an emotional impact on the overall quality of life – not only on the one experiencing it but also on their friends and family. In this blog, we’ll explore the signs that your loved one may be experiencing hearing loss. We’ll also share how you can support them while improving communication and ensuring a better quality of life for both of you.

Recognizing the Signs of Hearing Loss

1. Isolation

Many social situations can present complex listening challenges due to background noise and multiple talkers. People with hearing loss may avoid conversations, as it becomes increasingly difficult for them to keep up. They might start isolating themselves, leading to anxiety about attending certain events or depression about missing out on social situations they once loved.

2. Bluffing Through a Conversation

People with diminished hearing might only capture parts of a conversation, nodding along even when they don’t fully grasp the details. They may be aware that a person is asking a question but not fully comprehend its context. They’ll try their best by nodding or offering simple responses, hoping they’ve answered correctly.

3. Turning up the TV

Hearing loss can range from mild to profound, affecting different frequencies. Some individuals need more volume and clarity, leading to turning up the television volume. As hearing loss is often gradual, the TV volume may increase over time to compensate.

How to Help Someone with Hearing Loss

1. Get Your Hearing Checked Too

To show your support, offer to accompany them to a hearing evaluation. As we age, our chances of having hearing loss increase, so having someone else get their hearing checked too might make them more comfortable about making the appointment.

2. Kindly Address Potential Issues

Family and friends often notice a loved one struggling with hearing loss before they may be ready to admit it. Be respectful and empathetic, letting them know when they haven’t followed a conversation or answered a question appropriately. Remember, listening and hearing are two very different things and your loved one may be doing the best they can.

3. Encourage Research on Technology

Nowadays, devices for hearing loss are always improving. Make a risk-free appointment with a hearing care provider to have all the details explained—manufacturer, technology levels, features, styles, colors, rechargeability, and Bluetooth streaming. It may be surprising how far the technology has come.

Effective Communication Strategies

Successful communication requires effort by both the listener and the speaker. Even with hearing aids, it is essential to improve communication. Here are some tips:

  • Ensure you have the person’s attention before speaking. Say their name or gently touch their hand, arm, or shoulder.
  • Maintain eye contact. Face the person and concentrate on the speaker.
  • Keep a distance of 3-6 feet when speaking.
  • Illuminate your face (avoid backlighting).
  • Speak naturally, clearly, and at a moderate pace.
  • Keep your mouth visible—avoid chewing food, gum, or smoking while talking.
  • Rephrase rather than repeat if misunderstood.
  • Choose a quiet environment and reduce background noise.
  • Use facial expressions, gestures, and body language to aid communication.
  • Clearly introduce topics and transitions—give clues when changing the subject.
  • Tell others how best to converse with you. Ask for written cues if needed.
  • Don’t bluff—let the speaker know when you don’t understand.
  • Be patient if the response seems slow and be sensitive to signs of confusion or uncertainty.
  • Be aware of listener fatigue—people with hearing loss must work harder to communicate. This can be extremely tiring. If they are too tired to concentrate, reschedule the discussion.
  • Maintain a sense of humor and stay positive.

Always remember:

  • Hearing loss does not equate with a loss of intelligence.
  • Just because a person can hear your voice, does not mean they can understand your words.

With these insights and strategies, you’ll be better equipped to support your loved one navigating the challenges of hearing loss. By fostering understanding and empathy, you can help facilitate better communication, forge stronger relationships, and enrich their quality of life.