Hearing Loss and Holidays: Easing Communication
Hearing loss and Holidays can be at serious odds when it comes to effective communication as the hearing-challenged often feel left behind. Even hearing aids have their limits when it comes to slugging through spaghetti bowls of sounds and making sense of conversations that are carried out at mach-speed. Oh, one usually “hears” plenty. The main challenge is “understanding speech,” especially in loud and noise-confused environments.
As we are once again in the middle of the Holiday Season, please help make communication easier for loved ones with hearing loss. The fact that they may look the same as they always have makes it difficult to remember that they acquired a sneaky, chronic communication condition somewhere along the way. It is a real gift to them to be spared the chore of having to ask over and over for clarification of what was just said.
Here are some suggestions for facilitating conversations:
- Minimize or eliminate background noise. If that is not possible, move to a quieter area.
- Before engaging him/her in a discussion, get the person’s attention first.
- Face your deaf/hard-of-hearing conversation partner and maintain face-to-face contact.
- Speaking to hard-of-hearing people through doors and walls or behind their backs does not work. If they are not in the speaker’s direct line of sight, they are also out of earshot, no matter how close they might be physically.
- Speak calmly and distinctly at a voice level and pace that are comfortable for the other person. Louder is not necessarily better. In fact, it often makes things worse.
- Beware of the limits of hearing aids.
- Avoid interrupting the conversation. Finish your own thoughts/sentences and allow your hard-of-hearing conversation partners to finish theirs.
- When changing the topic of conversation, be sure that the person with hearing loss is aware of it.
- Make a pause and allow for people to get into the conversation as those with hearing loss are not good at “word wars.”
- Talking while chewing or laughing makes it impossible to speechread (lipread).
- Mostly, do not get upset if those with hearing loss share their communication needs with you. They are not being critical or demanding. They merely want to participate in the easiest yet most efficient way possible and are anxious to understand your every word.