Aging can have adverse effects on many aspects of a person’s health. Hearing is often one of the senses that is more affected as a person ages due to degenerating structures in the ear. The World Health Organization, or WHO, has reported that over 5% of the world’s population suffers from some form of hearing loss. With those over 430 million hearing loss sufferers, many loved ones do not know how to accommodate their loss and communicate with them. There are, however, many creative ways to communicate with hard-of-hearing loved ones.
What Does Hard-of-Hearing Mean?
The term ‘hard of hearing’ refers to a type of hearing loss characterized by having some remaining hearing left. The main difference between hard-of-hearing individuals and deaf individuals is that hard-of-hearing individuals have mild to severe hearing loss while deaf individuals tend to have little to no hearing left.
Symptoms that may illude to hearing loss or characterize a hard-of-hearing person include:
- Hearing speech as muffled and distant or quiet.
- Asking for those speaking to them to repeat themselves multiple times.
- Not being able to hear those speaking to them in a louder environment.
- Frequently turning the volume on electronics up higher.
Anyone who experiences these symptoms on a regular basis should go and speak with their doctor. A doctor will be able to test their hearing and make a determination on what is wrong and which paths to explore for treatment.
How to Communicate With a Hard-of-Hearing Loved One
There are many verbal and nonverbal ways for you to communicate with a hard-of-hearing loved one. Some of the most helpful and beneficial ways of communicating with your hard-of-hearing loved one are:
- Face your loved one when you are speaking with them- It can be difficult for those who are hard-of-hearing to process your speech if you are in another room or if you aren’t facing them. Lip reading is helpful to them and can help them better understand what you are saying.
- Speak to them in a quiet place- Background noise may cause your loved one to get confused or miss what you say. If possible, try to speak to them in quieter locations or locations that are less populated.
- Speak to them normally- It may be tempting for some people to speak slower to a hard-of-hearing person but this can come across as patronizing. Instead of slowing down your speech, instead, make sure that you are speaking clearly.
- Communicate non-verbally- If you and your loved one are finding it hard to communicate verbally, there are great non-verbal communication options available. One of the best and quickest ways to communicate non-verbally is to learn sign language. It’s an incredibly useful skill to learn and can also be a fun bonding activity for you and your loved one. If learning sign language is difficult for one or both of you, texting back and forth works as well.
Sometimes communication between you and your hard-of-hearing loved one can become frustrating, however, it is best for you to remain positive, understanding, and level-headed in your interactions.