Helping Friends and Family Who Have Hearing Loss

man with hand cupped to his ear

Helping Friends or Family With hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be difficult to adjust to, not just for the individual affected, but for their friends and family as well. Conversations in a crowded room can be difficult to follow, and important information can get missed. For those who have a friend or family member who has discovered they have hearing loss, there are many ways to be supportive and work around a loved ones new circumstance.

One of the first things to remember when speaking to a person with hearing loss is to make sure you have their attention first. Don't wave your hand in front of their face - that's just rude. Instead, move politely into their line of sight and show them you want to speak to them.

Once you start a conversation, don't change the topic without warning. Many people with hearing loss may not catch every word, and make up the difference by paying attention to context. If they miss a word or two and then you've moved on to a completely new topic, confusion can quickly follow.

Slowing down can help even more than speaking loudly. When words run together, especially in a space with background noise, making out the beginning and endings of words can be difficult. Speaking of background noise, mitigate as much as you can. Turn the TV down, move out of the kitchen if the dishwasher is on, and put a barking dog outside for the duration of your chat. Learn about your loved one's hearing loss. If they simply have problems with certain registers of sound, you can often consciously pitch your voice in an easier to hear range. Remember their situation when sharing extremely important information, and consider writing down such information so they have a written copy.

Finally, don't equate hearing loss with aging or dementia. While hearing loss can be associated with, caused by, or related to either, hearing loss in and of itself is not a marker of Alzheimer's or forgetfulness.

If your loved one has difficulty using the telephone, or cannot hear emergency warning signals, encourage them to get a hearing aid fitted. This can be difficult for some to accept, but a little support can go a long way.

Hearing loss can be difficult to adjust to, not just for the individual affected, but for their friends and family as well.