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Four tips for communicating with someone who has hearing loss

We all mishear things from time to time, even those of us with perfect natural hearing. In someone with hearing loss, hearing aids can do amazing job at correcting it, but the loss itself is not reversible. This means that the hearing aids have to work together with the auditory system’s remaining hair cells and your brain to hear and process information. It’s an imperfect science!

If you have a loved one or friend who wears hearing aids, there are a few simple tricks you can do to help them hear you better.

Louder is not always best
When someone with hearing aids is struggling to hear you, you might jump straight to raising your voice. However, a person with hearing aids can more than likely hear your voice fine, but may have challenges in discerning between similar sounding words. An increase in volume can sometimes lead to extra distortion. Use your natural speaking voice and expression. Even if you slow down your speech just a little, this can help. Allowing sufficient pauses in conversation can help your listener keep up with what’s being said, and give them time to process.

Think about your setting
Reducing background noise where practical can make communication a lot easier for someone with hearing aids. Are there air con units running, paper rustling, tv/radio playing or a lot of other conversations taking place? Eliminating some of these competing sounds or moving away to a quiet place could help you converse more easily.

Can you move closer?
While people with hearing aids can still hear you at a reasonable distance, moving closer can certainly help. Try to avoid shouting from another level or room of your home. Speech clarity is at its best when you and your conversation partner are 6ft or less away from each other.  

The added benefit to moving closer together is that people with hearing loss often use visual cues to help their understanding. When you look directly at someone as you’re speaking, your mouth, body language and eyes can help add context to the conversation and increase understanding. With this in mind, a few extra tips include not chewing gum, using adequate lighting and keeping your hands away from your face while speaking.

Rephrase, not repeat
When speaking with someone using hearing aids, be patient and tolerant that they may not understand everything you say the first time. It can help to rephrase the statement they missed, rather than repeating it word-for-word. For example, “We’re having dinner with the Jones’ tonight at 8” might become, “Jack and Jill are meeting us at the restaurant for dinner tonight.”

 

For more advice on living with a loved one who has hearing loss, pop into one of our clinics. Our friendly hearing specialists will be happy to chat.