Do you have a loved one who has trouble communicating and seems to just “check out” at family gatherings? The holidays are a time to connect with your family and when your friends are not able to hear well it makes it difficult to enjoy the holidays to the fullest. This time of year, to the surprise of many people, is busy for my line of work. It is often a family member or close friend that will encourage someone to come in for a hearing checkup. Hearing loss can really wreak havoc on your lifestyle. When you can’t hear, you have to concentrate and expend more energy on a daily basis. The holidays sometimes can bring anxiety, stress and impatience with all the hustle and bustle.
If you notice that a loved one is having difficulty hearing, here are a few tips for staying connected this season to your hearing-impaired friends.
- Face the person you are talking to: The hearing impaired don’t just hear with their ears, they hear with their eyes as well. Reading lips and facial expressions is automatic for most of us and it fills in the gaps of our hearing. That’s why so many say, “Well, if you faced me, I could hear you.”
- Make sure they know the topic of the conversation: We also hear with our brains. If you know the topic of the conversation, then your brain can add in what you did not hear. For example, “carve” can often be misheard as car, cars, cart etc. but if it is used in a sentence like “Is it your job to carve the turkey on Thanksgiving?” then the brain automatically knows that the word is “carve”. Context is important.
- Minimize background noise when possible: At your family gatherings, be sure to turn off the TV and turn down the music so that conversations can happen more easily. Background noise tends to mask out the consonants in speech and make it more difficult to understand what is being said. If you can find a quiet place to engage with grandma or grandpa so that they are less likely to “Check out”.
- Be patient: Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do. We want our aging parents to do as they always have and they want to stay connected too. Realize that it takes energy to hear when you have a hearing loss. Recognize their desire to communicate and encourage them to get help with their hearing.
Are you struggling with your hearing? Here are a few tips on how you might improve your communications with your hearing-abled friends, family members, and acquaintances.
- Be open about your needs: Let others know how best to speak to you. This will help to put you and them at ease.
- Pay attention and focus on the person speaking: You are no longer in a position that you can become distracted by other objects and people during a conversation. You need to concentrate on the person speaking, paying special attention to visual cues that he or she provides.
- Be patient and relaxed: If you become agitated or frustrated, communication is more likely to break down altogether. Keep your sense of humor intact, especially if you don’t understand something.
- Don’t pretend to understand: Don’t bluff your way through a conversation. It is far more productive to admit that you don’t understand something than to nod your head and smile. Likewise, be sure to let the speaker know when he or she is successfully communicating information. Tell them what you did hear instead of just saying “what?” This positive affirmation will help to reinforce good speaking habits in future conversations.
Schedule a Tune Up
Here at Diablo Hearing Services we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for your annual hearing evaluation and, if you wear hearing devices, to make sure they are working at their best. If your devices have older technology, this may be a good time to test drive something new. Ask us about trying a set of demos during the holidays. You might just be amazed at how well you can hear.