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21 September, 2021 | Hearfocus

Helping Someone You Love With Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be difficult to recognise and even more difficult to deal with.

It makes every day tasks like shopping or going to the bank so much more difficult, not to mention the social isolation that can come from not being able to fully engage with those around you, so you seem withdrawn, even unsociable.

It’s upsetting to see someone you care about start to withdraw from aspects of their life because they’re unable to hear, and for their personality to even change as a result.

Hearing loss is nothing to feel embarrassed about – it’s extremely common and completely natural, especially with age. And it will most likely affect us all at some point in our lifetime, to varying degrees. Worringly, untreated hearing loss can lead to other health issues and has been linked to cognitive disorders and dementia.

How you can show your support

If someone you love is suffering from untreated hearing loss, you can show your support by helping them to hear in a group situation, especially when there’s background noise. If you’re together at a family dinner, make sure you sit next to them to help them know about any information they might miss, to keep them in touch with the conversation or to simply share the punchline to a joke!

When talking to someone with hearing loss, you might feel compelled to speak loudly or shout. But this can distort what the person is hearing and although they may have hearing loss, they may also have sensitivity to louder sounds.

Instead, get their attention with a tap or a wave – don’t shout or clap. Make sure you face them when you’re speaking to them and speak slowly and clearly. If possible, move to a better environment with less background noise.

If they mishear you, don’t just repeat exactly what you’ve said but louder – try saying it again using different words. And most importantly, be patient, keep trying and don’t dismiss it as not important, making your loved one feel isolated or not valued.

Encourage them to seek advice

Convincing someone to seek help for hearing loss isn’t always easy, but it is important. Talk to your loved one about their hearing concerns and gently remind them of their hearing loss whenever you need to translate or repeat something for them. Offer to help them book a hearing check in the comfort and convenience of their own home, and remind them they have nothing to lose but lots to gain by seeking professional help.

If your loved one decides to have a hearing test or has a hearing care appointment, show your support by being with them. We encourage all our patients to have support and a familiar voice at their home visit from our hearing care specialist. Not only will being there show you care, but it will also give you the chance to ask any questions about their hearing loss or the hearing aid advice given that they may forget or not think to ask.

Quick reminders on how you can help:

  1. Face the person directly when talking to them
  2. Let them know if they miss something
  3. Don’t start talking to them from another room
  4. Rephrase what you’ve just said if they didn’t understand you
  5. Don’t shout as this distorts the sound
  6. Say the person’s name when starting a conversation with them to get their attention
  7. Speak naturally, slowly and clearly – but not too slowly!
  8. Reduce the background noise
  9. Don’t get angry or frustrated with them
  10. Think of ways you can use non-verbal communication to get your point across
  11. Encourage them to get a free hearing test
  12. Help them get over any stigma they feel by talking to them about the almost invisible, tiny hearing aids now available.
  13. Talk to them about any concerns they have about their hearing.
  14. If they decide to have a hearing test, support them by being there.

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