How do you make communication easier with a loved one who has hearing loss? I like the following summary from Oticon. You can download the Oticon full brochure here.
- Face the person you are talking to. Don’t try to converse from a different room or with your back turned. It is easier to hear what people say when you can see what they are saying. Visual clues like facial expressions and lip movements help listeners better understand your words.
- Stand or sit where your face is well lit. This makes it easier to see your facial expressions and your mouth movements as you speak.
- Try not to talk while chewing or eating. It makes it harder to understand what you are saying, and almost impossible for others to see your mouth and face as you speak.
- Do not talk while reading the newspaper, or lean your cheek on your hand while talking, as this will also make speech-reading difficult for others.
Speak at a Natural Pace
- You don’t need to shout. It is perfectly fine to speak at a normal conversational volume when talking with someone who wears hearing instruments. Most instruments are programmed to amplify a normal level of speech, so if you shout, it may be too loud or sound distorted to the listener.
- Try not to talk too fast. Speak naturally, but try to pronounce your words more clearly. This will naturally slow your speech, but be careful not to overdo it.
- If you are having trouble being understood, try rephrasing your sentence rather than just repeating yourself.
- When you are in a group, take turns at talking, and try not to interrupt each other. If the conversation changes suddenly, try to inform the person with the hearing loss; knowing the subject of the conversation makes it much easier to follow and participate.
Try to Reduce Background Noise
For someone who has a hearing loss, the most difficult listening environment is background noise. Voices are difficult to hear because they are in competition with all the other noise. The following are some suggestions that may help:
- Try to eliminate background noise when having a conversation. Turn off the television and close any open windows to reduce any noise from traffic.
- Move closer to your listener so your voice is louder than the background noise. This will also make your face and lips more visible.
- Alternatively, try to find somewhere quieter to talk.
Use the Clear Speech Method of Pronunciation
- Clear Speech is a technique of speaking in which the speaker attempts to express every word and sentence in a precise, accurate, and fully formed manner.
- See our article about Clear Speech here.
- For a local hearing specialist who can help you with Clear Speech, contact Dr. Mani Aguilar at the UVA Speech-Language-Hearing Center. Read our article about Dr. Mani Aguilar and the UVA Speech-Language-Hearing Center.
Know someone who worries about their elderly parent in Charlottesville, Staunton, or Harrisonburg Virginia? Care is There Geriatric Care Management can help! Have them contact me, Elizabeth, for a free consultation: 434.326.5323ext 2 or Elizabeth@careisthere.com.
Elizabeth Swider, Certified Senior Advisor and Certified Aging in Place Specialist
President, Care is There Geriatric Care Management
Support for independent living and long distance caregiving; assisted living enhancement