Improving Communication with Your Family

Improving Communication with Your Family
Cyndi Connolly

One of the most frequent medical concerns that people face nowadays is hearing loss. Damaged hearing causes a reduction in hearing and processing sound, which can substantially influence communication. This makes daily conversations, socializing with friends, and carrying out routine chores more difficult.

When it comes to your family, individuals you see and interact with regularly, strained communication can be especially challenging to navigate. However, there are practical tactics you may employ to help you communicate more effectively with a family member with hearing loss.

Hearing Loss in the United States

As the population ages and individuals live longer, it is increasingly possible that you will know someone who suffers from hearing loss or that you too may suffer from hearing loss. According to studies, more than 44 million persons in the United States, aged 20 and over, are projected to have “clinically meaningful” hearing loss by 2020. By 2060, that number is expected to double. 

Hearing aid technology is also coming in leaps and bounds, but it won’t completely cure hearing loss. In any case, no one’s hearing is perfect even with hearing aids, so if you routinely engage with someone who has hearing loss, there are some methods to keep the lines of communication open.

Set the stage

  • Keep calm: The first thing to remember is not to take it personally; if someone has trouble understanding you, they are not ignoring you. Anger will only frustrate you and will not help.
  • Lighting: It’s also crucial to consider lighting. It’s more difficult for the person to see your lips and pick up visual cues in a poorly lit space.
  • Remove noise: Taking steps to reduce background noise, such as turning off the television or turning down the radio, can also assist.

Use non-verbal communication

  • Be proactive in attracting their attention. Before you continue speaking, say their name and wait for them to look at you. This allows them to pay more attention to you and what you’re saying. 
  • Keep your mouth in full view: If you’re conversing with someone who wears hearing aids, keep in mind that they may still rely on lip-reading and facial clues to communicate. Speak, don’t shout, and don’t put your hand over your mouth. If your hair is long and swings close to your face, keep it away from your mouth.
  • Get a little closer: Talk to the individual with hearing loss face-to-face in challenging hearing venues such as restaurants, parties, or large group gatherings. Also, refrain from yelling from the next room.

Consider your speech delivery

  • Enunciate: Instead of simply speaking louder, enunciate each syllable while speaking to someone with hearing loss. Louder does not mean clearer. 
  • Take a pause: Adding pauses between words to give the person time to digest what is being said is very beneficial.

Consider the words you use

  • Rephrase: If someone doesn’t comprehend what you’re trying to convey, rephrase it rather than simply repeating it. If kids don’t get “is it time to go to the store?” try “we are leaving for the store right now.” Stay on topic and avoid cramming three or four ideas into a single line.
  • Talk more: If you talk in whole sentences rather than one-word answers, a person with hearing loss will grasp and process information better. Instead of simply saying “yes,” say “yes, I did” or “no, we didn’t.” Contractions should be avoided at all costs. If you have hearing loss, the extra syllables can help you understand the dialogue better.

If you’re talking to someone with hearing aids, don’t assume they have perfect hearing and understand what you’re saying. Hearing aids improve listening ability, but only to an extent. 

Convince them to get their hearing treated

Hearing aids affect everyone differently. And everyone must exercise patience. If you have a family member who refuses to wear hearing aids, forgiveness and patience are the way to go.

At our practice, we provide hearing tests and the latest technology to improve the lives of our patients . And when your loved one is ready for hearing treatment, we’ll be right there alongside them.