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Tips for Living With Someone Who Has Hearing Loss »

March 17, 2017

Whether it’s your partner, your child, or someone else, living with someone who suffers from hearing loss usually means having to learn new ways of supporting and interacting with that person. But you aren’t alone – 20% of Americans, approximately 48 million, suffer from some degree of hearing loss. Since so many people have been in this situation, there are a lot of helpful, tried-and-true techniques for living and communicating with a hearing-impaired loved one. We’ve collected 4 crucial tips to help improve both of your lives.

Tip 1: Help Them Get Help

Studies of cohabiting couples show that partners are crucial in both making a person aware of their hearing loss and in getting that person assistance. (This can probably be generalized to anyone living in the same home as someone who is slowly losing his or her hearing.)

Attending doctor’s appointments with your loved one can help reduce anxiety and make your loved one feel supported. When your loved one has a diagnosis and is ready to be fitted for a hearing aid, many hearing centers like New Generation Hearing Centers in Miami both welcome and encourage family members to be a part of the hearing aid fitting process. This support is important because getting hearing aids can be emotionally difficult for many people, who might see them as a sign of old age or incompetence.

Partners are also often crucial in exploring the range of other hearing technologies available, from cochlear implants to assisted living devices. If your partner or loved one is having trouble dealing emotionally with a new diagnosis of hearing loss, researching the available options can be valuable to reduce the burden of your partner feeling overwhelmed.

Aural rehabilitation classes are classes that focus on improving communication for people who have hearing loss and their families. They might involve several kinds of specialists, including doctors and counselors, who can help the hearing-impaired person, learn to lip-read, understand their legal rights and understand how to listen using hearing aids. They also help the person’s family adjust and develop new support and coping strategies.

Tip 2: Empathize

It’s hard to relate or even be nice sometimes when you don’t understand what someone is going through. But there are amazing smartphone apps that can simulate for you what your loved one is going through, right down to simulating the exact kind of hearing loss your loved one has. When you know what your own voice sounds like to your loved one, you may find it easier to be patient when you have to repeat yourself again.

Tip 3: Be Realistic

When hearing loss first becomes a problem, both the person suffering and the people they live with tend to go through a range of emotions, particularly frustration and loneliness. Don’t expect yourself, your loved one or anyone else in the household to respond perfectly to the new challenge right away.

If your loved one shows resistance to the idea of getting help for hearing loss despite your best efforts, don’t try to trick or push them into it. Doctors say you are better off reminding them calmly and sympathetically what they could be missing out on, and talking to them about the different kinds of treatment available.

If you are having trouble coping with the new challenges to your household or your relationship, family or couples’ counseling is an excellent option. Seek out a therapist who is experienced in hearing-loss related issues.

Tip 4: Practice Good Communication Techniques

Above all, both parties should remember that good communication takes work, even when both people can hear just fine. So although hearing loss may present new challenges in communicating, it’s not unusual or terrible to have to learn new communication strategies when dealing with others.

Here are some important techniques to know when communicating with someone with hearing loss:

  • Always face the person directly when speaking to them. Be mindful of the lighting involved – is it in their eyes, blocking them from seeing your lips?
  • When it’s impossible to face the person directly, don’t simply shout from another room. This strategy is almost always unsuccessful and results in nothing but frustration for you and the listener.
  • Say the person’s name to get their attention before beginning to speak. Most kinds of hearing loss require the hearing-impaired person to do a lot of work to concentrate on a single strand of noise. When you say their name, you give them time to focus on your voice.
  • Speak clearly and slowly, avoiding complex phrases or rapid speech that might be difficult to keep up with.
  • Be mindful of your body. Don’t block your face with your hands or hair, which may make lip-reading difficult.
  • Be mindful of their If the hearing-impaired person has one ear that is better than the other, position yourself towards that ear. And if they are tired or sick, recognize that this can make concentrating on your voice more difficult – and it is already an effort for them.
  • Avoid unnecessary noise. Don’t try to have a conversation in a busy room if it can wait. Be mindful of exposing the hearing-impaired person to loud noise, especially if he or she has hearing aids, as this can be incredibly irritating or painful.
  • Use other methods of communication when possible and/or necessary, like writing, texting, or email. This is especially a good idea for dates, meetings, appointments, phone numbers and other things where accuracy is important.

Giving us a call can help you or your partner start on the road back to living life to its fullest. Call New Generation Hearing Centers and return to having the gift of hearing.