1. Be supportive
It takes an average of seven years from the time a person discovers their hearing loss till they actually get hearing aids. It’s a long and winding journey, where the person with hearing loss slowly learns to accept that they need a hearing aid.
It’s a big thing. And it’s not easy admitting it to themselves and everyone around them.
So be patient and be supportive.
There are many ways to support your family member. Hug them and show them you care. Practise new communication strategies. Go with them to a hearing care professional and ask questions. Help them choose the right hearing aid. Explore assistive listening devices that could be relevant to them and help them set them up.
2. Learn what it’s like to have a hearing loss
Maybe you can imagine what it’s like to have a hearing loss, but there’s a way to get closer to experiencing the real deal. Try an online hearing loss simulator sequence like the Flintstone hearing simulator. Although the hearing simulators can’t let you experience every unique hearing loss, they let you experience how a voice sounds, depending on the degree of hearing loss. That way you’ll gain a better understanding of what it’s like.
3. Forgive and forget
When you’re talking to someone with a hearing loss, it’s easy to get into a situation where you just want to shout instead of repeating yourself again (and again).
Remember that no one is intentionally trying not to understand you. It’s just that they can’t hear you as well as a normal hearing person. So, take a deep breath and be patient. Forgive and forget. And repeat the message once more.
Every hearing loss is individual and unique. When your family member can’t hear what you’re saying, it’s possibly because some frequencies are inaudible to them. Raising your voice won’t help and comes off as more aggressive. Try to rephrase your sentence and speak more clearly (not louder!).
5. Take responsibility
When you’re trying to deliver a message, you can’t assume that the receiver will hear you perfectly. Take responsibility for your own words. Make sure they are understood as intended by whomever you’re talking to – instead of getting upset that they can’t hear you. That goes for anyone, hearing loss or no hearing loss. A good starting point is making sure that the person can see your face while you’re talking and that your mouth isn’t covered.
6. Insist on the hearing aids
Your family member knows there’s a reason they have got hearing aids. And if you don’t wear them when you’re around people who want to talk to you, then what’s the point? Insist that they put on their hearing aids before you talk to them. Most of the time it will save a lot of frustration on both sides.
Remember that insisting doesn’t mean shouting and getting impatient before your family member has even had a chance to put on their hearing aids. You know your family member best, so choose the right way to explain that you want them to put their hearing aids on in a way that resonates with them. Being kind and patient goes a long way.
If your family member with a hearing loss hasn’t got hearing aids yet, start by helping them take a free online hearing test. If there are indications of a hearing loss (which there probably are!), be supportive and go with them to a hearing care clinic. A hearing care professional will make a thorough analysis of the hearing loss and help your family member figure out how to cope – most likely by recommending a hearing aid.
7. Get professional help
If it becomes too hard to communicate with each other in your family, you can get help from your hearing care professional. A hearing care professional can teach you the best strategies for communicating in your family. Plus, it’s easier to accept advice on this delicate subject from a hearing professional than from someone you’re emotionally connected to.
Would you like to get some practical tips? Download our ebooklet “How to communicate with hearing aid users”.