Communicating With Hearing Impaired Family Members


If you have a loved one who suffers from hearing loss, you understand the frustration that accompanies a conversation with them.  Even with hearing aids, that loved one is still hearing impaired and could use a little help on your part to optimize the listening situation.  Below are a few simple steps you can take to do just that:

1)      SAY THEIR NAME – Because it takes so much effort for a person with hearing loss to hear and comprehend, it is best to get their attention before speaking.  Say that person’s name and let them know you want to have a conversation. 

2)      “WALK BEFORE YOU TALK” (Remensnyder, Linda) – We all hear better when we can see who is speaking, read their lips, watch facial expressions and hand gestures; therefore, don’t expect someone with hearing loss to hear and understand you when they cannot see you. 

3)      TURN IT OFF – We all hear better when there is less noise around; therefore, make sure to turn off any competing sounds (e.g., TV, radio, dishwasher, etc.)

4)      SLOW DOWN – It is not necessary to shout at someone wearing a hearing aid if they are still struggling to hear you, simply enunciate your words; talk slowly and distinctly. 

5)      REPHRASE – If the hearing aid wearer says “what,” don’t repeat the exact same sentence; rephrase what you have said in order for them to use all of the information to fill in the blanks. 

6)      BE PATIENT – If you think it’s frustrating, just image what it is like on their end.  It can be very lonely and isolating when you cannot hear especially when you know that your better hearing loved ones are frustrated with you.  Communication is a two-way street.  Try to understand that your hearing impaired loved one has a disability and that you can help the conversation by implementing these simple communication strategies.