If someone you know is experiencing hearing loss, they are likely going through many intense changes in all aspects of their life. When your family member is experiencing hearing loss, conversations can be difficult to follow, it can feel impossible to be in crowded spaces, and otherwise “simple” or normal activities such as watching TV or having a one-on-one conversation with a loved one can become difficult. Hearing loss can deeply impact their abilities to feel engaged in and connected to the family. The disconnection that people experiencing hearing loss can feel is sometimes exacerbated by friends and loved ones who do not understand what hearing loss feels like. Taking some time to understand the effects of hearing loss and best ways to communicate with your loved ones about hearing loss will improve communication and make them feel as supported as possible.
Hearing loss can drastically how people hear, of course, but also how they communicate. Your loved one with hearing loss may not be able to distinguish amongst many different sounds. This can make it especially difficult for them to communicate in places with a lot of ambient noise or in places where many people are talking at once. This may mean that they find it difficult to communicate in their own homes, or at family member’s homes, where there are a lot of people and music.
Thinking carefully about how to best communicate with your loved one in these situations is important. For example, your loved one may not need or want you shout or speak excessively slowly when you are talking with them. They may simply want you to make eye contact with them before you address them. They may hear better out of one ear over the other, and want you to speak to them from that side of their body. If you want to have important or direct conversations, you should be conscious of selecting places with minimal background noise. Perhaps the most important step to take, however, is to simply ask your loved one what their hearing needs are and what their communication needs are.
It can take quite a long time for people to adjust to hearing loss so it is really important to remain patient with your family member who is experiencing hearing loss. Adjusting to hearing loss can be extremely physically and emotionally exhausting—and it can be even more taxing when family members do not understand their hearing loss, are impatient, or do not want to adjust their own communication habits. If you are frustrated while communicating with your loved one who experiencing hearing loss, try to imagine how they themselves feel losing their abilities to fully engage their loved ones! One of the most important things you can do is to create an open and caring environment for your loved one to slowly adjust to their changing hearing and communication needs.
Remaining patient and communicative with your loved one experiencing hearing loss will help you to play an important role as an advocate with your loved one, with your larger family, as well as with friends, coworkers, and medical professionals. You can be an important person who encourages them to take a hearing test, for example, and who works with them as they explore hearing assistance options such as acquiring a hearing aid. Taking time to visit us at Hearing Aid Specialists of the Central Coast with your loved one may ease any anxieties they have about the visit. Hearing tests are safe and non-invasive, and are important steps in assessing your family members hearing and understanding the best route forward. They may for example need hearing aids, and your opinion can go a long way in ensuring they get a device that suits all of their needs. At the same time, visiting us at Hearing Aid Specialists of the Central Coast will also help you to gain insight into your loved one’s hearing abilities and communication needs. (Not to mention, you may yourself want to get a hearing test to understand your own hearing capabilities.)
The most important trait of a hearing health advocate is to simply practice loving care and patience. Taking the time to work with your family member about how they hear and how they want to communication will create stronger bonds and help your loved one to feel as integrated into the larger family as possible.
Our team is here to support you and your family on the journey to better hearing. We understanding that hearing is an important part of your most important relationships, and we will work with you to find a treatment plan that meets your needs. Contact us today to learn more.