How to communicate with someone who has hearing loss
When you’re conversing with someone who has hearing loss, keep in mind that what to you is simple communication may be a tiring effort for your companion. A person with hearing loss has to make an active effort to understand. Hearing aids may help, but turning up the volume won’t make distorted sounds any clearer.
Enhance communication with someone who has hearing loss by using these practical suggestions:
- Before starting to talk, reduce the level of background noise — Turn off the television, radio, air conditioner or other noisy appliances. Don’t leave a faucet running. If you can’t reduce background noise, try to move to a quieter area.
- Make sure you have the person’s attention before speaking — You can do this by saying his or her name or touching his or her shoulder.
- Talk face-to-face — Speak at eye level, no more than a few feet away. Don’t chew gum, smoke, talk behind a newspaper or cover your mouth while you’re having the conversation.
- Speak at a typical conversational level — especially if the person is wearing hearing aids or has a cochlear implant. Don’t shout. If necessary, modestly increase your volume.
- Speak clearly but naturally — Slow your speech a little, using a few more pauses than usual.
- Use facial expressions, gestures and other body language cues — They help to make your points.
- Watch your listener’s face for signs that comprehension is a problem — Rephrase your statements if the listener is unsure of what’s been said.
- Alert your listener to changes in topics of conversation.
- Show extra consideration in a group situation — What’s known as cross-talk is one of the most difficult situations for someone with hearing loss. Try to structure events so that only one person is speaking at a time. At meetings, it’s helpful to display an agenda on a board or monitor and, as the meeting progresses, to indicate which item is under discussion.
For more discussions like this one, check out the Hearing Loss group.
Coming soon, Mayo Clinic on Hearing and Balance provides clarity on dealing with hearing loss.
Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Aging & Health: Take Charge blog.
I cannot hear well and most people do not understand. It is very confusing to talk with some one.
I live with my husband who also has a hearing loss and wears hearing aids. After reading this, I KNOW that I am driving him crazy when I speak to him from another room. So I first apologize to him and secondly apologize to you as a person who just has not listened to either of you, on behalf of all concerned who have ignored your and his needs. I know that I sometimes get angry with him as if it were his fault. I do know that it is not the hearing impaired' s fault, but mine instead. God bless you. I as one, will endeavor to do better to all concerned.
Thank you for this article, It has opened my eyes.
I’ve been hearing impaired for over 35 years. What you noted is so critical for the hearing impaired however few, if any, comply -Including my wife. Even when they know what to do instinctively they don’t follow the necessary protocol.
I have developed a panic attack disorder and limit my exposure to social interactions as a result. My hearing loss has been corrected with the best technology and is the best it can get. Unfortunately, unless the individual follows your guidelines it remains a constant challenge. I’m currently taking medications for depression and panic attacks but have resigned myself to the fact that I remain in a state of isolation.
COVIDs mask requirements have added an additional burden for me. I did not realize how much I relied on lip reading RO understand someone. Even with hearing aids it is very difficult.
I have had hearing loss for over 25 years and also find it impossible to understand anyone wearing a mask! I feel blessed to have visual voicemail and closed caption on my phone which is a tremendous help, Everything you view seems to have this which was not always the case. Blessings to all of you who are hearing impaired. I take comfort that if you live with an eternal perspective, some day your hearing will be perfect!
Welcome @healthnut76 @andy64 @jashandley21 @akaaki @godesign46 @dudelee1933. I invite you to connect with others living with hearing loss in the Hearing Loss group. Explore the discussions. There is so much experience, knowledge and support in this group.
– Hearing Loss group https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/hearing-loss/
As a person with hearing loss, I think this is an excellent article. I wish more people who have friends and/or family with hearing losses could read it. My husband still tries to talk to me when I have my back to him and I am at the kitchen sink with the water running, and when the TV is on somewhat loud. I am fortunate in that one of my close friends used to teach deaf children so she can often see from my face that I have not understood what she said when we are out in a restaurant or other noisy environment.
How are you doing Jane..?