Help for Family & Friends
At the end of the day, we all want to be heard and understood
Hearing loss affects everyone and everything because communication is essential and involves everyone in a given conversation. Practicing communication tips can reduce stress, improve your relationships, and build positive interactions and good memories. And the sooner action is taken, the better.
Communicating with people with with loss
If someone close to you has a hearing loss, you’re likely painfully aware of the communication struggles and tensions that can happen daily. Repeating yourself, shouting, worrying about critical information not being heard — all of this can strain even the best relationships. Further complicating matters, those of us with hearing loss often withdraw and isolate — it can seem easier to avoid family events and give up favorite shared activities. This and a dwindling social life can make relationships feel frustrating and lonely.
How can I get someone to deal with their hearing loss?
- Try gently asking questions like, “Is it getting harder to hear in crowded places like restaurants?” “Did you catch all of the conversation?” “Are you having trouble hearing on the phone?”
- Suggest taking an online hearing test together. Your person may find this first step easier than going to a hearing care professional. Learn more.
- Show them new, sleek models of hearing aids and hearing-enhancement earbuds (also called hearables). These easy to use technologies that can provide the initial support they need before moving on to hearing aids.
- Go with them to their hearing health appointments. This will show your support and also enable you to ask questions, write down important information, and help your person navigate their options.
- Be patient, but persistent. With most types of hearing loss, treatment has a high success rate.
- 5 ways to raise hearing issues with a family member or friend (AARP)
- Hearing Loss Conversation Kit (PDF download)
How can I communicate better with someone with hearing loss?
Using communication strategies when you are talking to someone with hearing loss, will go a long way towards improving communication. Be consistent, and soon these practices will become good habits.
Get the person’s attention before you start talking.
Face the person and sit close so they can speech-read and see your facial expressions. Try not to yell across the room or up the stairs.
Speak a little slower, not louder, and focus on speaking clearly.
In groups, encourage everyone to talk one at a time, not over each other.
Whenever possible, find a quiet space to have conversations.
Make sure that your environment is well-lit so that people with hearing loss can see everyone’s faces and lips clearly.
Avoid glare or being backlit, for example, standing in front of a window.
If eating out, check out these 10 tips for Dining Out for People with Hearing Loss.
Provide an agenda and available background information. This gives the person with hearing loss context, and also helps them follow the conversation.
Practice communication tips like using a microphone, avoid side conversations, eliminate ambient background noise, and facilitate so that people don’t talk over each other.
Ask speakers to repeat important details, and send meeting notes with important information, such as appointment dates or times.
Turn on captions when conducting an online meeting. You may be surprised how helpful this is to everyone on the call.
Learn to use a remote microphone or personal amplifier.
Turn on closed captioning when watching television or streaming services like Netflix and YouTube.
Install a hearing loop at home or use a speech to text smartphone app.
- Watch this comprehensive communication tips video. Captions are available by clicking the CC button by the other video controls.
- Download these HLAA-WA communication tip cards; they are excellent reminders of communication best practices.
- Read How to support someone with hearing loss (Healthy Hearing)
- Count on HLAA-Washington! We are here for family and friends, too. You’re welcome at all of our events, both virtual and in-person. We hope you see us as a friend and resource.
Everyone is welcome at our support meetings. Find support and encouragement, and learn new skills at our chapter and support group meetings and online HOPE meetings — Hearing Other People’s Experience
Blogs, Podcasts & Publications
Hearing loss can be difficult, but it is easier than ever to find information, insights and even humor from people who have learned to thrive with hearing loss
For every level of hearing loss, there are many products that can help people hear better in different situations and environments — what works at home may not work as well out and about