HOW TO BEST COMMUNICATE WITH THE HEARING IMPAIRED

December 25, 2019

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Dr. Darcy Benson

Dr. Benson completed her audiology fellowship at the California Ear Institute, Palo Alto, CA, and received her Doctor of Audiology degree at Salus University, Osborne School of Audiology, Elkins Park, PA. Prior to that, she received her Master of Science degree in Communication Disorders from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA.
Dr. Darcy Benson

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The holidays are here, and with them come parties, gatherings and meeting new people! When you meet someone with hearing loss with whom you don’t normally communicate, you may have trouble understanding what they are going through. Communication becomes a bit more challenging for all parties involved.

Even those who have hearing devices and work to exercise their communication skills may have a bit more trouble conversing at a gathering than others. Here are some things we can do to facilitate communication and put our loved ones and new friends at ease in their efforts to communicate with us.

These communication strategies may can help enable a positive exchange with sufferers of hearing loss.

 Always face them

People with hearing loss use your body language and sometimes lip reading to help them to understand everything you say. Staying very close to them and facing them when speaking will help them a great deal.

 Use their names

Having hearing loss means that communication and listening take more effort and focus than for others. Hearing loss sufferers block out background noises, so they may miss cues, like speech directed at them from across the room. Saying his or her name before starting a conversation is more likely to get their attention, which leads to less frustration on both sides.

 Let them see your face

If your face covered, like when you are eating or when your hands are over your mouth, can make them miss out on valuable cues. Even beards and mustaches can interfere with communication cues.

 Try not to repeat yourself

 If someone there is a breakdown in communication, it usually doesn’t help to repeat the same words over and over. Say it in a different way; this can facilitate better communication and understanding.

 Don’t yell! Enunciate

Shouting may distort your voice and make the problem worse. Instead of yelling, try to speak slowly and distinctly.

Decrease background noise

Anything loud or distracting in the background can make hearing a conversation more difficult. TV, radio, or even household appliances interfere and cause a problem with communication for those with hearing loss. Turn all the background noises off and close the windows if possible.

Talk into the “good ear”

If your conversation partner has better hearing in one ear than the other, try to sit on that side or direct your speech to that ear.  That way, they don’t have to put as much effort into understanding the conversation. This small thing can make a huge difference.

Hearing loss doesn’t always make sounds less loud; they may sound distorted

Even if you are doing everything right, your conversation could still be difficult. Be patient! They are probably even more frustrated and would love to hear like they used to. Kindness and compassion will go a long way even when communication fails.

Keep in mind these basic things and your holiday gatherings will be more enjoyable for everyone. Happy holidays!

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your budget.