Being Mindful About How You Speak to Someone with a Hearing Aid
When speaking to someone with a hearing aid, there are some common courtesies to keep in mind. Cassandra Garver, a licensed hearing instrument specialist and owner of Lifetime Hearing Solutions, recounts some of the common mistakes people make when talking to someone with a hearing aid and how we can be more mindful, in general, through the course of these conversations.
When it comes to talking to someone with a hearing aid, Garver expresses that the best thing you can do is make sure you have their attention. “The wearer will always hear better when they are looking directly at someone that’s talking to them,” Garver explains. This is because those with a hearing loss rely on visual cues to aid in those lapses in hearing. Visual cues include both facial expressions and reading lips. So, actions such as unconsciously covering your mouth while talking can also impede their ability to understand you.
Garver says that “What I come across the most with the husband, wife, or family members, is that they talk to the hearing aid wearer and think that just because they have a hearing aid, they’re always going to hear them.” However, that is not the case. “If they’re not paying attention, they’re not going to hear you,” said Garver.
Yet another mistake commonly made when talking to someone with a hearing aid is how a person responds when the hearing aid wearer asks them to repeat something. Many times, someone will repeat their words louder, but that is not usually what they need. “It’s not necessarily the volume,” explains Garver, “You might just be talking too fast.” So, if asked to repeat yourself, simply talk slower and do your best to enunciate.
While it’s important to be mindful of how you converse with a hearing aid wearer, it is also essential to recognize the signs that someone is not getting the whole conversation. They may nod along, no matter the context of the conversation or the question they were asked. They may also start to avoid the places where they know hearing is more difficult.
Garver’s advice for individuals in these situations is to stand by a wall so that sound is only coming from one direction. In addition, she explains that “there are hearing aid programs specific for noisy environments that can help the wearer really get the best performance out of their hearing aids.”
Overall, as a family member or friend to someone with a hearing aid, the best thing you can do is be supportive and patient. “They want to hear you,” explains Garver, “but it’s going to take some time; hearing loss is so gradual that it takes some time to get used to hearing again through a hearing aid.” So, it’s important for both parties to be patient and understanding of what the other is going through.
When it comes to getting a hearing aid, the first step is a hearing test to determine the degree of hearing loss. Garver says that she has yet to meet someone who regrets getting a hearing aid, “It’s changed their quality of life. They’re more relaxed, and they’re a part of more conversations. Hearing life is important.” To Schedule an appointment to evaluate your hearing, contact Lifetime Hearing Solutions by calling 605-342-1619