Conversation is so important in families. When a family member has hearing loss, it can make natural conversations difficult, resulting in feelings of isolation, frustration, and resentment all around. The good news is, there are solutions.
Treating hearing loss with hearing aids will make a difference right away, in a huge way. But it helps to have additional communication strategies to avoid misunderstandings and reduce stress. Check out these seven easy communication strategies that will make conversations flow more smoothly in your household.
- Be sure to get your listener’s attention before speaking
It can be difficult for people with hearing loss to decipher speech when they aren’t facing the speaker and able to see their lips. Visual signs are especially important for those with more substantial hearing loss. A simple method you can use when communicating with your hard of hearing loved one is to get their attention before speaking to them, by simply touching them on the shoulder.
- Try not to get upset over misunderstandings
It’s understandable that you might get flustered or even hurt when you feel you aren’t being heard or understood. When this happens, take a step back and a big, deep breath. Allow your emotions to reset and remember that your loved one is struggling in their own right and isn’t deliberately ignoring or misunderstanding you. When you are feeling calmer, decide if you want to try another way to fix the misunderstanding, or simply move on in the conversation. This more relaxed, empathetic outlook will help to reduce tension, both for you and your conversation partner.
- Make an effort to enunciate
This is especially important if you are someone who naturally talks at the speed of light or has a tendency to mumble! When you are talking with your hard of hearing loved one, you’ll need to put in the extra effort to speak as clearly and precisely as possible. It isn’t necessary to slow down your speech to an unnatural rate, though. Speaking at a normal, relaxed pace and making sure to enunciate is the best way for you to be understood.
- One-word answers are easy to misunderstand
When we talk, we naturally speed up and shorten our speech, and it’s not uncommon to give hasty, one-word answers to questions. But for someone with hearing loss, it can be easy to miss these answers the first time and lose the thread of conversation. Instead of responding with “yes” or “no”, try your best to use full sentences such as “Yes, I liked the dinner” or “No, he isn’t coming with us”. Being mindful in the way you speak will make communication easier and life less stressful for everyone involved.
- Rephrasing is better than repeating
If your hard of hearing loved one has trouble understanding you the first time around, avoid repeating yourself word for word. It is actually more effective to rephrase your statement or question, giving your family member a chance to pick up on different keywords.
- Seek out professional advice if your family needs help If you and your loved ones have been struggling to cope with communication difficulties as a result of a family member’s untreated hearing loss, it may be time to get some professional guidance. A counselor can help to diffuse the conflict and suggest strategies that will bring more understanding and peace to the household. Many hearing care specialists have expertise in helping families communicate and would gladly offer their support.
- Wear your hearing aids consistently It is common for new hearing aid users to require an adjustment period, where they get used to wearing their hearing devices. The best way to do this is to wear your hearing aids for a short amount of time each day, and slowly build up from there until you are comfortable wearing them all day long. The key is to be consistent and gradual in your approach to wearing your hearing devices.
Though it may take a little while to adjust to your hearing aids, you will probably notice right from the start that communication with your loved ones has become easier. The best thing you can do to improve your health and happiness–and the happiness of your family–is to keep making the effort and wear your hearing aids every day.
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