Sometimes being there for hearing-impaired family members can be a bit challenging at times. Sadly, it can often have a negative effect on the relationship. Social situations can be very tiring if you have hearing loss, and it’s important to be understanding with a family member going through this. More effort must be put into communication, and trust and patience need to be developed on both sides.
Put yourself in their shoes
If you try to understand what your loved one is going through you can deal with them with more empathy. It’s a good idea to really try and recognize what it’s like to have hearing loss. This will help you to approach the relationship with more patience. To help you relate, audiologists have created simulations online you can try. These recreate the feeling of what it’s like to have hearing loss. Use this simulation to see the world from their point of view. Chat to them about your experience and ask them and their audiologist questions. The more you show an interest, the more comfortable they will be and this will all help paint you a clearer picture of what it’s like to live with impaired hearing.
Be an advocate for them
Group social situations can be awkward especially for those with hearing loss as there are different conversations going on at the same time and a lot of background noise to tune out. The best way to be an advocate for a loved one with hearing loss is by anticipating any difficulties they might have. If possible, try to make friends and family aware of some tips and tricks in conversation and how to deal with them in an appropriate way. You could sit next to them if they need any part of the conversation repeated. Depending on your relationship, you could also give them a hand in public places and with other tasks that might be problematic like telephone reservations and asking for specific requirements.
Dos and don’ts
Giving your family member a helping hand is one thing, but try not to leave them out of situations or patronize them. Sometimes repeating yourself loudly just doesn’t work, and there are better ways to communicate. Here are some useful dos and don’ts:
- Express yourself with gestures and facial expressions
- Rephrase rather than repeating anything misunderstood
- Speak face-to-face and make eye contact
- Be patient
- Shout or clap to get their attention
- Simply repeat the same words in a louder voice
- Speak too quickly
- Tell them, never mind or don’t worry about it.
It’s not polite if they feel included in the conversation even if they have trouble understanding. Saying that it doesn’t matter and not bothering to explain yourself could make them feel worse. Instead, learn to support them with patience and understanding. Raising your voice isn’t necessarily helpful. Trying to use different words that might be easier to understand is often more effective. It’s even a better idea to learn to laugh about misunderstandings as well, make them feel at ease. Eye contact and facial expressions can go a long way as well. If it’s still too noisy to communicate where you are, move to another room where you can talk.
Understand more about treatment and hearing aids
Why not show your support by attending a hearing care appointment? Speaking to an audiologist will be very informative and help you to understand more about living with hearing loss. The audiologist will also be able to give you more information about different types of aural rehabilitation, hearing aids and cochlear implants. Learn more about the different types of hearing loss, and which your loved one has. Ask them to explain how to take care of the device they use for example, so you can help out. Be as involved as they want you to be. If you live together communication is important, you could make things easier by using a message board or book.
Learn to talk about it
If someone close to you has hearing loss, it’s natural that it might cause you to worry. Don’t be afraid to express concern about potential dangers that might affect them if they don’t take the relevant steps to better hearing. It’s important to try to be honest with one another. It’s a good idea to get in touch with an audiologist.
If you or a family member would like more advice from an audiologist, or to learn more about The Speech & Hearing Center, contact us today at 423-622-6900.