Hearing Loss and Holidays: Ease Communication

Hearing Loss and Holidays: Ease Communication

Hearing loss and Holidays can make for a challenging situation. This Holiday Season, ease communication for those with hearing loss and give the gift of inclusion and conversation.  It is not that hard to do.

Hearing loss changes lives

As an invisible disability, hearing loss changes lives. From the outside, people look the same and herein lies an issue: it is easy to ignore them and to minimize their communication challenges.

This is a major concern that people in support groups share all too often. They find themselves on the outside of conversations and activities even with those whom they have known for a long time. They perceive this as isolating and depressing, especially during the Holidays—the peak family-and-friends time of the year.

Thanksgiving kicks off the Holiday Season. Unfortunately, it serves as a reminder that talking to loved ones has become difficult. The dynamics of social life have changed and so has life in general.

The gift of inclusion and conversation

Even the best of hearing aids have limits when it comes to sorting out dialogue that runs on at supersonic speed in noisy places. Technology helps, but it can only do so much.

It is a real gift to spare the hearing-challenged from having to ask over and over for clarification of what was just said. Do not get upset if they 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

Suggestions for easing communication:

  • Minimize or eliminate background noise. If that is not possible, move to a quieter area.
  • Slow down the conversation to a more normal speed.
  • Before engaging in a discussion, get the person’s attention first.
  • Face your 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. The fact that people have hearing aids does not mean that their hearing is now normal or fixed.
  • Avoid interrupting the conversation. Finish your own thoughts and sentences and allow your hard-of-hearing  partners to finish theirs.
  • When changing the topic of conversation make 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 cutting in.
  • Talking while chewing or laughing makes it impossible to speech-read (lipread).

Of course, these communication strategies do not only apply to Holidays. They apply to everyday life. Yet, it is during the Holiday Season that those with hearing loss appreciate all the more being included and heard.

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For industry Safety Training on Noise-induced Hearing Loss prevention or presentations, please see my website: http://www.moniquehammond.com  Or email [email protected]

To learn about ears and hearing, please see my book on hearing loss: What Did You Say? An Unexpected Journey into the World of Hearing Loss, now in its second updated edition. Sharing my story and what I had to learn the hard way.

 

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