Things People with Hearing Loss Wish You Knew

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Dr. Maya Berenson, AuD

Dr. Maya Berenson, AuD
Latest posts by Dr. Maya Berenson, AuD (see all)

Sometimes it can feel like hearing loss is a solitary experience. Those who have lost some of their hearing ability find it increasingly difficult to have conversations, and this lack of connection can sometimes feel isolating and lonely. Reaching out to a person with hearing loss is sometimes all it takes to build a bridge. However, there are a few things that people with hearing loss wish the people in their lives knew. Keeping these things in mind can make those with hearing loss feel understood, accepted, and supported.

Hearing Loss and Communication

Conversations become difficult for those with hearing loss. Although they might not want to admit it directly, the struggle to communicate is like putting a puzzle without all the pieces. Hearing fragments of sound is a confusing thing, and it can be frustrating for all involved. When you communicate with a person with hearing loss, keep in mind what it might feel like for them, and try to imagine what would make communication easier. There are a few basic things you can do to help. Avoid talking with a person with hearing loss from another room. You might be used to calling out questions or casual commentary from elsewhere in the house, but this habit can be very frustrating for someone with hearing loss. When you ask a question from far away, the person may hear jumbled sounds but will not be able to properly respond. If you call out with a piece of information, it may not be received. Rather than speaking whenever something comes to mind for you, wait until you are in the same room. Approach the person with hearing loss, and simply speak while looking directly face-to-face. This simply tip can work wonders for conversation ability. Whether they realize it or not, many people with hearing loss watch mouths to support the conversation process. Keep this in mind when you are speaking to a person with hearing loss. One thing you should avoid doing is speaking for someone with hearing loss. If someone asks a question, and the person doesn’t hear it, feel free to repeat the question with closer proximity. However, it can feel like you are erasing the person if you simply bypass them and answer in their stead. Remember that your assistance is only to facilitate the communication of the person with hearing loss, not to work around them.

Hearing Aid Expectations

Hearing aids can be incredibly effective in helping people with hearing loss communicate in a variety of contexts. However, they don’t work like eyeglasses, simply sharpening the entire picture. Hearing aids enhance some sounds and reduce others, so they can be quite effective in noisy environments, particularly helping a person hear voices in a conversation. In other contexts, hearing aids can actually raise the volume of the entire sonic environment. Depending on the model and design, these aids might raise the sounds of air conditioners, fans, or humming machines in the room. In places with many voices, hearing aids can actually raise the volume on all conversations at once. If this is the case for a person with hearing loss, the volume might be appropriate, but deciphering which voice is speaking can be a challenge. Don’t expect a person with hearing loss to understand everything when they are using their aids. The sonic profile might be more complicated than that.

Support and Encouragement

Sometimes the best thing you can offer a person with hearing loss is encouragement. You can encourage them to continue to engage in social events even if they are frustrated they can’t hear. You can encourage them when they feel fatigued from the process of interacting with the world day after day. Perhaps the best encouragement you can supply is for them to seek assistance. If you know someone with hearing loss how has not received treatment, have a conversation about the process. Simply by asking questions and carefully listening, you may be able to pave the way for a person you love to get assistance, including hearing aids. Your support is crucial, and understanding these general points will guide you in the best way to show your support.