Hearing Loss and Your Loved Ones

Communicating without Enabling

Hearing loss can be uniquely challenging for the family members of an individual with hearing loss, but clear and open communication can make all the difference. For loved ones who have not yet realized or addressed their hearing problems, it is important not to act as their ears and “hear” for them. By repeating yourself, raising your voice, or acting as a go-between, your compassionate efforts may be enabling your loved one to continue to deny or delay seeking an evaluation and/or treatment.

It is helpful for family members or loved ones to join patients at their appointments in order to understand the particulars of their hearing loss as well as to be present for support and encouragement. A hearing evaluation can provide useful information for the people who live and interact daily with the patient, such as the extent and nuances of the hearing problem. Furthermore, patients can benefit greatly by hearing familiar voices when trying hearing aids for the first time.

Even with the most updated technology, sometimes hearing cannot be totally restored. Therefore, family members can do a lot to help their loved ones with hearing loss by keeping the following communication tips in mind. Choosing an appropriate environment can make a big difference for someone with hearing loss. Providing ample lighting and reducing background music or noise can help the individual see the speaker’s mouth and facial expressions. Improve communication by keeping your hands away from your face, facing the person directly, and maintaining eye contact throughout the conversation. Be sure to say the individual’s name when addressing him or her and speak clearly and distinctly, finding ways to rephrase when a particular sentence or word needs more than one repetition. Be sensitive to your loved one’s position in a conversation if he or she hears better from one ear than another. Small considerations like these can prevent your family member with hearing loss from feeling isolated and alone. As always, Comprehensive Audiology is here to help problem solve with patients and their families to facilitate optimal communication.

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