The festive season is upon us and with it, a time for coming together. Many families have members with hearing loss who may feel overwhelmed at the prospect. Whether you’re living with someone with hearing loss, or simply spending a few hours together, there are lots of ways that you can help to put them at ease.
Here are some easy ways to provide support to someone with hearing loss:
1) LEARN WHAT IT’S LIKE TO LIVE WITH HEARING LOSS
Hearing loss can put a strain on relationships. It can cause stress, hurt feelings, frustration, all due to miscommunication and the need to repeat oneself. If you find you’re getting frustrated, it can help to learn more about what living with hearing loss is actually like. If you can learn to have empathy and can better relate to what your family member is going through, you might be better able to hold onto your patience.
Have a conversation with them and ask lots of questions to gain an understanding of what they are experiencing. There are also lots of websites that can simulate hearing loss so you can get a better idea of what it is actually like to lose your hearing.
2) BE AN ADVOCATE
A great way to be supportive is to become an advocate for your family member who is experiencing hearing loss. It can be difficult for someone who is losing their hearing to manage to hear clearly in group situations like parties, thanks to the background noise. Before events like this, it can help to call ahead to let other family members know some of your tried and tested tips to make conversation and communication go a little easier. Sit next to your family member at dinner and let them know that they can ask you to repeat things for them if they miss anything.
3) DOS AND DON’TS
When somebody has hearing loss, communication, which is a vital part of inclusion in society, is impacted negatively. Remember that effective communication goes well beyond just speaking. Gestures and facial expressions can help to make the meaning of what you’re saying much clearer.
Whenever it is possible to do so, face the person you are talking to. Try to avoid covering your mouth (remove your mask) when you’re speaking so the person can lip read if they need to. Make sure you have their attention before you start speaking. Don’t chew gum while you are speaking to someone with hearing loss, as the chewing can distort the shape of your mouth. This makes it harder to lip read, and to follow what you are saying. Be aware that your family member may have a harder time than usual hearing you if they are stressed, tired, upset or ill. Be patient if this happens. Try to be flexible and be willing to hold off on a conversation until there is a better time to talk.
- Do get their attention with a tap or a wave; don’t get their attention with a clap or a shout.
- Do speak to them face to face; don’t speak to them with your head turned away from them.
- Do speak slowly and clearly to them; don’t speak too fast or too loudly.
- Do be willing to repeat yourself or rephrase what you said; don’t repeat the same thing, just louder, if they didn’t hear you.
- Do be patient and keep trying, with notes if you need to; don’t get frustrated and give up. Never say “It’s not important.”
A little patience and understanding will go a long way to making a festive family get together an enjoyable one.
If you notice that a family member is becoming hard of hearing, encourage them to seek medical treatment in order to protect the rest of their hearing as best as they can. To learn more about hearing loss and what can be done about it, please contact us to book an appointment in Bedfordview or Benoni by calling our office on 011 615 3047 or email email@example.com
Contents of this article originally appeared on: https://centerforaud.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-a-family-member-with-hearing-loss