Hearing loss can affect you at any age in your life. The signs are subtle, and you may not notice them yourself. As a family member or friend, often you will notice the signs of hearing loss in a loved one before they do. 

When communicating with someone who is experiencing loss of hearing in the early stages, the conversation can feel frustrating for everyone involved. Experiencing hearing loss is a part of life, however, it’s important to rule out any chance of it being serious early. 

By visiting an audiologist, those experiencing signs of hearing loss will see significant improvements in their ability to communicate with the many options that can be provided for them. With or without the help of hearing aids, it’s important that you make some amendments to how you communicate with those that are hard of hearing to include them in the conversation. It’s the little things that count. 

Here are some subtle adjustments to take into consideration when communicating with the hard of hearing:

Try to Reduce Background Noise

Background noise, such as music or other people chatting, drown out your voice very easily. When in a place with loud noises, turn your back to the noise and face the person you are communicating with directly when speaking. This increases the volume of your voice considerably. In loud spaces, be sure to attract someone’s attention by placing a hand on their arm or shoulder politely before talking.

In any situation where you cannot control the volume, move away from the noise source, such as large parties, speakers or a kitchen when in a restaurant.

Always Have Good Lighting

Body language, facial expressions and speech reading all contribute to communication and comprehension for those with hearing loss. However, poorly lit rooms make it difficult to see faces clearly. For someone that is hard of hearing, this can cut off a major part of their ability to communicate. 

By being in a well-lit space, it will be easier for those that are hard of hearing to see the conversation flow, respond to cues and understand clearly.

Speak Naturally and Clearly

One of the biggest misunderstandings when communicating with someone with hearing loss is that you have to almost shout, and over-enunciate your words to help with speech-reading. 

Both of these approaches actually make it more difficult. When you shout, the tones of your voice change to a higher frequency that are often inaudible for people that are hard of hearing. Similarly, over-enunciating makes it difficult to read the words as they are no longer in their natural form.

Speak naturally, a little louder if requested and speak clearly. If you mumble or slur often, remain alert and conscious of when you are doing this and pronounce your words properly. 

Rephrase Instead of Repeating Sentences

In the early stages of hearing loss, one of the greatest frustrations is the response to asking people to repeat things often. So much so, many people will remain silent instead of asking. When someone cannot hear what you are saying, sometimes it is because the tone of the word is not within their range of good hearing. 

Instead of repeating yourself, rephrase the sentence to help them. Rephasing eases the frustration for everyone as it keeps the conversation going. 

If the person who is hard of hearing has one ear that is better than the other, this is a good time to switch to the better side. 

Keep Your Hands Away from Your Face

When your hands are around your face, your voice becomes muffled and distorted. If you are one to put your hand on your chin, you’ll notice that your words sound different when you do. This is a natural habit that you may not notice that you do, however, having hands around your face can make speech-reading difficult as they disguise the mouth and face. 

By putting your hands down when you can, you are making your facial expressions and mouth easy to see. 

By speaking clearly, making sure your body and face are visible and finding a quiet space, you’ll find yourself communicating well with those that experience hearing loss, easing any frustrations that may otherwise arise. 

If you notice that you or your loved ones are showing signs of being hard of hearing, it’s important to start visiting an audiologist yearly to measure any significant changes. You can learn more about hearing aid options and important signs to watch out for by calling The Hearing Clinic at Woodlake at 612-200-8414.