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Communicating with the Hard of Hearing

When a loved one has hearing loss, it can lead to social isolation and loneliness as it creates a barrier to communication with others. This can lead to depression, and cause pain in the extended family as your loved one retreats from interaction, due to being embarrassed or ashamed. While encouraging your loved one to meet with a doctor or audiologist to be evaluated and possibly fitted with a hearing aid is a good first step, there are other things to keep in mind to ensure effective and meaningful communication.

  • Choose a quiet location for conversation. Reduce background noise as much as possible, turning off the TV, radio, or other noisy appliances, making sure your loved one can focus on your voice as much as possible.
  • Facial expressions and lip movements provide a lot of unspoken detail and information, so make sure to face your loved one in a well-lit environment so they can see and absorb it.
  • Make sure to have their attention before speaking, so they know to focus on you. Touch their hand or shoulder gently before speaking.
  • Raise your voice, but don’t shout, and speak at a moderate pace. Leave pauses between sentences, but don’t exaggerate your words.
  • Let your loved one know to signal or let you know if they need you to repeat yourself. Many people with hearing loss are ashamed, and would rather let it go than admit that they didn’t hear you. Make sure to let them know you understand and are not judging them negatively.