Dr. Cynthia L. Ellison, Au.D
Latest posts by Dr. Cynthia L. Ellison, Au.D (see all)

Hearing loss can be hard for you and your family. Whether it is you or someone dear to you who struggles with hearing loss, the constant breakdown of communication can be exhausting. 

Sadly instances where hearing loss goes ignored, the problem does not go away or get better on it’s own. It all too often leads to divorce in couples where one person’s hearing loss is untreated. 

If you can all identify and talk about the problem, you and your loved ones can work together to communicate effectively and take steps to help improve your situation. Let’s explore a few tips that can help you and your family navigate living with hearing loss. Many of these tips include ways to communicate effectively with those with hearing loss.

Get the listener’s attention first

A lot of miscommunication that occurs with hearing loss can be attributed to the listener completely missing what you are trying to say. This can add to built up frustration and resentment when this could be avoided if you are sure that the listener is ready before you start speaking. 

If appropriate, try touching their shoulder first or making sure you have eye contact before you start speaking. Listening with hearing loss requires more energy as you often have less auditory information to work with. Getting the listener’s attention first can give the listener a chance to focus on what you are saying.

Don’t take it personally

Miscommunications happen in any relationship but these are more common when someone is struggling with hearing loss.  It is important that everyone is open about hearing loss and that it is recognized as a serious condition. 

If everyone can commit to dealing with hearing loss your family may have a chance to overcome the challenges that it forces your family to face.  Don’t take hearing loss personally, but as a process of family healing. 

Clearer rather than louder

You may assume that the problem with a miscommunication is due to the level of speaking but this most often is not the case with hearing loss. As certain tones and pitches degrade first with many cases of hearing loss it becomes harder for the brain to interpret conversation. 

Taking care to enunciate and speak as clear and paced as possible will be much more effective in helping your loved one understand what you are trying to communicate.

Pause frequently

It is helpful for you to speak slowly and add many pauses while speaking to those with hearing loss. This can give people time to interpret conversation and compensate for the degrading of sound they struggle with.

Get closer

For many with hearing issues the struggle is much more pronounced in loud environments with a multitude of conflicting sounds.  If you don’t have the option to move to a quieter environment insist on sitting closer to your family member with hearing issues. 

Make sure your face is visible so they can also rely on facial expression, body language and lip reading. Resist the urge to call out from another room as this can create more misunderstanding then it is worth.

Rephrase rather than repeat

One of the most common clues that someone has undiagnosed hearing loss is if they are constantly asking you to repeat yourself. Because people with hearing loss may struggle with hearing specific consonants or tones repeating the same thing over and over may feel futile. Rather than foster frustration on both sides of a conversation, try rephrasing rather than repeating. Putting your intent in a different way may add context, which can help the listener understand what you are trying to say.

Seek professional help

If someone in your family is already using hearing aids, make sure that they wear their hearing aids regularly. Hearing aids help people with hearing loss hear the sounds they are missing in life, so they have more time to connect with the ones in their life who truly matter.

If your family is struggling with hearing loss insist that the affected seek help. Contact us to set up a hearing test. Our hearing health professionals can detect the severity of your hearing loss and recommend the best treatment to help your family communicate with more ease again.