It’s never easy to see someone you care about struggle with their health, especially if the patient isn’t aware of their symptoms or if the condition can potentially put their life at risk when not managed correctly.
Hearing loss, which can be fully determined by a Hearing Test, can be particularly difficult to accept as not only does it have a physical impact but an emotional one too. Frequent miscommunication may put a strain on your relationship, causing stress, frustration and bruised feelings.
Whether it’s a spouse, friend, family member or colleague who is dealing with hearing loss, here are six ways to gently help them.
1. Start the Conversation
You may have noticed over recent months that your loved one has trouble understanding words, especially if you’re in a loud or busy spot. They may frequently ask you to repeat yourself or to speak slower, clearer or louder. They may even be withdrawing from social situations or avoiding them completely.
Your loved one may be aware of their hearing loss, or it may come as a complete surprise, so it’s important to approach the conversation with care. The right time and place are key. Once you’re both comfortable, ask them if they have noticed any changes in their hearing and mention any symptoms you have noticed. Your loved one may initially be in denial, but encourage them to take the next step in improving their quality of life.
2. Suggest a Hearing Test
Now that the topic is out in the open, assure them that there are many helpful aids and treatments for hearing loss, but first, they need to schedule a test at a hearing test centre to learn exactly what their problem is. There are many hearing loss causes — it may even be a simple case of built-up earwax, in which case, ear wax removal is required, which is also available at Hearing Expert.
You could also explain how advances in technology have completely transformed the way hearing aids work and look. Now is the time to book that hearing appointment while the conversation is fresh! You may consider checking out these appointments for hearing aids for your loved one.
3. Offer to Accompany Them
No matter how old we get, everyone appreciates a friendly face at important medical appointments. Don’t wait for them to ask you — offer to go with them! The extra support will help them to feel more comfortable and there will be two of you to ask questions and digest information. It’s much better for them to have a voice they know well, so they can compare their new improved hearing, to the way they have heard previously.
4. Communicate Clearly
Now that the medical itinerary is out the way, it’s time to help your loved one manage their hearing loss on a day-to-day basis. Clear communication is vital via the following methods:
- Make sure you have their attention before speaking. Approach them from the side or front instead of from behind.
- When you’re talking, face the person to help them better understand what you’re saying. Don’t turn away or cover your mouth. Lipreading lets your loved one recognise lip shapes, gestures and facial expressions that enhance the meaning of the message.
- If they don’t quite understand what you’re saying, do not shrug it off and say it doesn’t matter. Instead, try re-wording it a different way.
- No need to shout! Ensure your voice stays at a comfortable level.
- Loud background noise in busy places and group situations can be especially hard to contend with. To help combat this, book a table away from speakers or the bar and choose a well-lit venue for easy lip-reading.
5. Learn Sign Language Together
While hearing aids and lipreading can certainly improve communication, profound hearing loss may need some extra assistance. You could both learn the fingerspelling alphabet or sign up for Online American Sign Language Classes to help you communicate better.
6. Ask Them What You Can Do
Everyone has different communication needs and preferences, so don’t be afraid to ask your loved one what you can do to help make communication easier. They may tell you something you have completely overlooked — for example, don’t chew gum when you’re talking as it distorts the shape of your mouth, making lip-reading difficult — who knew!