The holiday season can be a wonderful time filled with food, friends and family. For folks with hearing loss, it can also be stressful. Even with hearing aids, keeping up with fast-paced conversations in large groups can be a difficult task. To help you do your best this season, we’ve put together a list of five communication tips and strategies for you, as well as five tips to share with your loved ones.
COMMUNICATING WITH HEARING LOSS
1) Prepare for noisy backgrounds. Holiday parties and gatherings can get pretty loud. Be aware that you will be able to interact easier in areas that have a bit less noise and when the rooms are equipped with soft surfaces and carpeted floors. Open rooms with high ceilings are more challenging settings.
2) Group settings. Group conversations are always challenging. You will notice that talking in smaller groups at gatherings will be easier for communicating and allow you to focus on a single conversation happening near you than trying to follow along with many conversations at once.
3) A supportive friend can be helpful. If possible, sit next to somebody with a familiar voice with whom you are comfortable. This way you can turn to them if you miss something. This additional support can be very meaningful.
4) Be an advocate for yourself. Although this can be difficult for many, don’t be shy. Remind your friends and family to speak up, slow down, and look at you when they’re talking. This tip will set you up for more comfortable interactions and engagements.
5) Enjoy communicating. Remember that communication is more challenging for many people when it’s noisy, not just for those who experience hearing loss and utilize hearing aids. If you’re struggling, keep in mind that others in the room are likely experiencing similar difficulties.
COMMUNICATING WITH A LOVED ONE WITH HEARING LOSS
1) Get their attention before speaking. When somebody has hearing loss, they will often miss the first part of a sentence if they are not expecting it. Before you address your loved one with hearing loss, get their attention with a gentle pat on the arm or by saying their name.
2) Use your face. Help somebody understand you better by facing them when you speak, keeping your hands away from your mouth, and using facial expressions and gestures.
3) Speak clearly. Speaking clearly and slightly slower than you typically would can go a long way when you are having a conversation with somebody with hearing loss.
4) Rephrase, don’t repeat. When somebody doesn’t hear you the first time, try to rephrase what you said, rather than just repeating it. This will provide your loved one with two different chances to understand what you said, increasing the likelihood that they will get it right the second time.
5) Be patient. Remember that hearing aids are only part of the solution. When communicating with your loved one with hearing loss, patience can go a long way.