Hearing loss not only impacts you but also your loved ones. People often report feeling ignored and frustrated with their loved one who has hearing loss. Symptoms can strain communication and make it tough to engage in conversations which are essential in relationships. Over time, this can lead to a breakdown in communication as well as produce tension as well as distance. It is important to prioritize your hearing health by identifying and supporting your hearing needs. This includes practicing ways to improve communication with your family. There are several strategies you can use to support effective communication, including the following:
- Treat hearing loss. Hearing loss tends to be undertreated. In fact, it takes an average of 7 years for people to address their symptoms. This can worsen impairment, taking a toll on relationships and communication. It is important to intervene early which starts by getting your hearing tested. Conducted by a hearing healthcare specialist, hearing tests involve a painless process that assesses your hearing capacities in both ears. This identifies any hearing loss and the degree of impairment in each ear. Once your hearing needs are established, your hearing healthcare provider is able to tailor treatment to meet those needs. Treatment offers life-changing benefits including strengthening communication and improving relationships as well as overall health.
- Maximize use of hearing aids. Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss. These are electronic devices that help absorb and process speech as well as sound. Similar to most electronic devices today, hearing aids have experienced significant innovation over recent years. Today’s devices are savvier and more advanced than ever, offering a range of features and technologies that deliver enhanced sound. There are a number of features that increase connectivity, sound quality, and overall experience which allow hearing aids to easily integrate into everyday life. This includes features like digital noise reduction, tinnitus management, and wireless connectivity. These technologies support communication and hearing in daily environments. Be sure to discuss these features with your hearing healthcare provider so that you can maximize your hearing aids.
- Share communication strategies. Once you treat hearing loss and are familiar with your hearing aids, you will learn and become an expert on the ways that your hearing can be best supported during conversations. This includes strategies and tips that meet your hearing needs which you should share with your loved ones. Examples of effective communication strategies include:
- Grab your attention before starting a conversation. This allows you to make any adjustments needed to be ready.
- Facing you while speaking. Maintaining visibility allows you to have access to nonverbal cues like body language, facial expression, gestures etc. which help you follow a conversation.
- Rephrasing rather than repeating. When you haven’t understood something, it may be more helpful to rephrase rather than repeat so that you have a new set of words which may be easier to hear and process.
- Avoiding raising their voice. Speaking in a natural tone and taking pauses between sentences.
- Not multitasking during conversations. This includes texting, cleaning, cooking etc. which can be distracting and prevent people from being fully present.
Sharing these tips with your loved ones gives them an opportunity to participate in making conversations easier and supporting your hearing needs.
- Minimize unwanted noise. Background noise can make it challenging for anyone to hear and it can be especially difficult for people with hearing loss. It is important to reduce background noise as much as possible. You can do this by lowering volume settings on the TV or music playing in the background, avoiding places like restaurants during peak hours, driving with the windows rolled up to minimize environmental noise, not using household appliances while having a conversation etc.
- Advocate for your hearing needs. It is important to always prioritize and advocate for your hearing needs. This includes sharing communication strategies with others, speaking up when clarification when needed, asking others to make adjustments to better support your hearing needs etc.
Practicing these strategies can significantly improve your hearing and communication with your family. Contact us today to learn more about the resources and technologies available to better support and meet your hearing needs in everyday environments.