As I was sitting in the chair getting my haircut last week, we began conversing about hearing aids and hearing loss. My stylist was shocked to know that even with hearing aids, it can still be difficult to hear and understand at times. It got me thinking…Thanksgiving and the holidays are quickly approaching.
While it is a wonderful time to get together with family and friends over the holidays, it can also be a stressful time, particularly for someone with a hearing loss. Many times the holidays require increased effort while listening due to competing sounds, multiple speakers, and loud background noise. Even though hearing aids can significantly help people in these situations, there are communication strategies that can be valuable. Below are 15 strategies that both people with hearing loss can use as well as family members that are communicating. Remember communication is two ways!
- Face the person directly on the same level whenever possible.
- Be sure that the light is shining on the face of the speaker, not in the eyes of the person with impaired hearing.
- Whenever possible, try to look and speak directly at the hearing impaired person.
- Do not talk from another room; if you must, make sure that the person has heard you call him/her and tell them what room you are in.
- Recognize that all people, especially people with impaired hearing, do not hear as well and understand less when tired or not feeling well.
- Speak in a normal fashion without shouting or elaborately mouthing the words. Words spoken a bit more slowly are clearer than those that are shouted.
- Keep your hands away from your face while talking.
- If you are eating, chewing or smoking while talking, your speech will be more difficult to understand.
- If the person has difficulty understanding some particular phrase or word, try to find a different way to say the same thing.
- Avoid talking too rapidly or using sentences that are too complex and long. Slow down a bit; pause between sentences or phrases; wait to make sure you have been understood before going on.
- If you are giving information, such as time or place, be sure it is repeated back to you by the person with impaired hearing. Many numbers and words sound and look alike.
- Avoid sudden changes of topics. If the topic changes, tell the person with impaired hearing; “We are talking about ___________now”.
- In noisy places, make sure the loudest noise is behind you. In restaurants, request a table by the wall or a booth. Avoid busy times at restaurants, when they are the noisiest.
- Look for ideas or concepts rather than isolated words.
- Relax! Do not strain to see or hear. A combination of good hearing and seeing enables you to understand more of the conversation.
So as you are sitting at the Thanksgiving table this Thursday, remember everyone wants to be a part of the conversation! Good strategies makes communication easier on everyone! Happy Thanksgiving!