How to Keep Loved Ones with Hearing Loss Close?

A patient with hearing loss enjoying time with family in Gainesville, FL

How to Keep Loved Ones with Hearing Loss Close?

Coping with hearing loss is different from other disabilities in that it is an invisible condition. The reactions or behaviors associated with hearing loss may not be always apparent. People with hearing loss often feel left out of conversations as those around them tell stories and reconnect over laughter. In fact, these special moments can pose a real threat of depression and overall feelings of loneliness as people with diagnosed or undiagnosed hearing loss tend to withdraw.

If you’re hosting a party or gathering, consider these tips to help ensure that your friends and family who may be struggling with untreated hearing loss stay part of the festivities.

Be attentive

• If you noticed your loved one remaining quiet, try to draw them into the conversation.

Eliminate background noise

• Background noises like music or a television can make it extra difficult to tune in to the surrounding conversation.
• If you can’t turn it off, at least turn it down.

Focus on lighting

• A well-lit room makes it easier for those with hearing loss to read lips and discern body language, such as facial expressions.
• Try to minimize glare from windows as well.

Speak clearly

• Avoid mumbling, speaking slowly and clearly at a normal volume.
• Keep your mouth clear
• Don’t chew gum, smoke, or put your hands near your mouth when speaking to help them maintain clear focus.

Don’t interrupt

• Aside from being rude, interrupting makes the conversation especially hard to follow.

Assume the position

• Face the person with whom you are speaking and try getting his or her attention before you converse by gently touching a hand or shoulder as appropriate.

Rephrase

• Instead of merely repeating what you said, try rephrasing it in case it was a certain word of particular sound of speech that was indiscernible.

Proximity matters

• Sit close to the person as it is much harder to hear clearly from across a room.

Seating arrangement

• Place the person with hearing loss at the head of the table for meals so that he or she can see other guests’ clearly; consider using a round table.

Engage

• Ask him or her to chat with you in a one-on-one setting, such as a quiet corner or even on a walk together.

Find an advocate

• If you find yourself too busy with hosting duties, recruit the help of another family member or friend who will be patient and proactive in keeping everyone involved in the conversation.

Your loved one probably won’t catch all of the conversation, but your efforts will certainly go a long way at making him or her feel cared for and included.

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