Hearing loss is a common occurrence at the onset of old age. Most people have at least one person among their loved ones who is hard-of-hearing. While less common, gradual hearing loss can also occur among younger individuals as a result of natural genetic causes, accidents, or otherwise. As the loss of hearing can sometimes be linked with depression, it is our duty as family members to learn how to care for them. One of the best ways to do so is to put special care into communicating better with them. In this article, we will present some key tips to help you be understood better by hard-of-hearing individuals.
Make sure you have their attention.
Before you begin to speak to them, make sure they are focused and are not distracted by any other tasks at the moment. If they hear better on a particular side, move to that side before you begin speaking to them. Calling their name or tapping them lightly on the shoulder would also make it very clear that you wish to communicate to them. Once you are sure you have their attention, you may begin to speak. If they love to listen to music, buy them a pair of headphones from headphonatics, specially designed for the hearing impaired.
Focus on the other senses such as sight.
With the gradual loss of the sense of hearing, many such individuals have a naturally heightened sense of vision. Thus, focusing on visual cues is one of the easiest ways to better communicate with them. When you’re speaking to a hard-of-hearing individual, try always to maintain good eye contact. Our eyes are very useful in conveying nuances in our emotions and can be a very good supplement to understanding what we wish to convey when the listener misses a word or two in what we speak.
Hand gestures and facial expressions are equally useful in conveying a message visually, where pointing and gesturing can be easily understood in place of hearing what you say. Make sure your hands do not block your face, as maintaining the vision of your face and hands is sometimes essential for them to understand you, especially for individuals who rely on lip reading to supplement their impaired hearing. Also due to the importance of vision to supplement hearing, make sure you move to an area with good lighting that makes it easier to see your face and hands.
Make an effort to be understood.
As much as possible, speak naturally without shouting or mumbling as that often distorts the words you speak, by making your mouth form unusual shapes that are much more difficult to lip read. Use short pauses within your speech instead of dictating slowly, to give them time to process your message between sentences. If they ever miss what you’re saying, rephrase rather than repeat as they most likely missed a word that is difficult to hear or lip-read, and repeating this will not improve their understanding of your message.
All these tips are focused around replacing and supplementing meaning when you are conveying a message. Always keep in mind that loss of hearing can be a very disarming and sensitive condition to deal with. Take special care in not magnifying your loved ones’ disability, and have patience when communicating with them. Do not fret when you’re not understood the first time, think of another way to say the same message and try again. If you can do this respectfully, your loved ones will appreciate the effort to accommodate their condition.
Lastly, always pay attention to the changes in your loved ones’ conditions, and gradually adjust the way you communicate to a mode which is most comfortable for them. If you follow the tips to this guide, eventually you will be able to communicate with them easily and effectively.