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Communication Strategies for Family and Friends

When a loved one has a hearing loss, communication can be difficult and frustrating for all involved. Hearing aids can greatly improve communication, but they do not cure hearing loss, and remember even normal hearing is not perfect. The following strategies can help to improve the ability to communicate with someone with hearing loss more effectively.

1. Maintain eye contact

It is always easier for those with (and without) hearing loss to be able to see the person that they are talking to. There are visual cues that can help to fill in the gaps in a conversation. Be sure to maintain eye contact and keep hands and objects away from the face when communicating.

2. Get their attention and ask questions

Getting someone's attention before beginning to speak will allow them to know to pay attention. If you start speaking before getting their attention, often times the beginning of the conversation is missed altogether and they never really “catch up”. Ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer to be certain that the listener is understanding the conversation.

3. State the topic

State the topic of the upcoming conversation before proceeding with any details. This is very helpful when switching topics within a conversation.

4. Speak slowly and clearly

Speak slowly and clearly without yelling. Raising your voice too much can do more harm than good when it comes to understanding speech. Speaking in a slow and clear manner will make it much easier for someone with a hearing loss to keep up and understand the conversation.

5. Be mindful of your setting

It is easier to hear and follow conversation when you are face to face, and there is no background noise present, such as a TV. Try to reduce any interfering sounds so that the conversation is more easily heard and understood. Talking to someone with a hearing loss with your back turned or from another room is a common mistake made by family members.

6. Rephrase when they don't hear you

If repeating is necessary, rephrase the sentence or question. This will allow the listener to distinguish different words or phrase and be able to better understand the conversation.

The number one thing to remember for both sides if hearing loss is a affecting your life is to be patient with yourself and one another.