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How to Communicate with a Hearing-Impaired Person

a man with hearing loss, and his family

Has a loved one or someone you know recently been diagnosed with hearing loss? This will likely be a significant change in their life. In the beginning, they may struggle to communicate effectively, and they may find it difficult to maintain a conversation, especially if it's in a noisy or busy place. That's why you need to make sure that you know how to communicate with them the right way. It's crucial to do this because otherwise, hearing loss can lead to a variety of emotional issues with your loved one because of the desire to socially isolate themselves from difficult and garbled conversations. This could include problems with depression and even cognitive decline. Both are common when the ability to hear and communicate has been significantly impacted. Here's some advice on how to ensure you are communicating effectively.

Make sure they get the right treatment

The first step is to make sure that they are seeking advice and treatment from a professional. A hearing instrument specialist is an expert when it comes to recommending the right solutions for hearing loss, typically in the form of hearing aids. Hearing aids can greatly improve an individual's quality of life as well as their ability to hear and maintain a conversation. To ensure your loved one is getting treatment, make sure that you talk with them about how their hearing aids work and whether or not adjustments may need to be made to the settings. In cases like this, you will observe that an individual that should be engaged in what you are saying is probably phased out of the conversation completely.

Position yourself the right way

You do need to make sure that you are positioning yourself correctly to make the conversation easier to follow. It is possible that they have unilateral hearing loss. With this type of impairment, hearing damage is going to be worse in one ear compared with the other. That's why you want to make sure that you are sitting on what is essentially going to be their good side. In other words, you need to sit close to the ear that they hear best from. The individual themselves may be able to provide you with this information.

You should also make sure that you are sitting in close proximity to the person. The further you are from the person, the more chance there is for the sound to be distorted or to be lost in background noise. Many hearing aids can now reduce levels of background noise and elevate speech automatically. However, this will depend on the tech that is being used.

This is also why you should ensure that you are never trying to communicate with someone who is suffering from a hearing impairment from a different room, which is quite a common mistake.

Control your speech

You do need to make sure that you are controlling and regulating how you speak to someone who is suffering from a hearing impairment. The trick here is to make sure that you are speaking carefully and not rushing through a sentence. Where possible, make sure that you are using short sentences that are not overly complicated. This will give the best possible chance that information isn't going to be lost. You also need to make sure that you avoid mumbling words or missing different syllables. You can do this when speaking to a person who doesn't have hearing issues.

However, if they do have hearing issues, it can make it more challenging to understand what you are saying and the point of the conversation. Do make sure that you are using their name when you are talking to them, as well. This provides them with clear information that you are speaking to them and not anyone else who might be in the room or in the environment at the time.

It's also important to make sure that you are not mumbling, but you shouldn't shout. Shouting at someone with a hearing impairment may embarrass or alarm the individual you don't want that.

You also want to make sure that you are not covering your mouth. It's quite common for a person with hearing loss to lip read to piece the whole story together. This can be a useful way to pick up information that they would otherwise have missed. That's why you should make sure that you are keeping your hands away from your face. Don't forget; this can also distort the sound.

Think about the environment

Finally, do make sure that you are considering the environment. When possible, you should choose a place with reduced levels of background noise to make it easier for them to focus on what you are saying.

To learn more about how you can help a loved one with hearing loss, contact The Hearing Guy at Asheville: (828) 820-2001 or Hendersonville: (828) 398-0978.