The hustle and bustle of holiday parties and family dinners can be a struggle for people with hearing loss. Even loved-ones with hearing aids may struggle to distinguish voices they love from noises they hate. This creates stress, tension, and loneliness, even amongst family and friends.
“In my work as a hearing instrument practitioner I work daily with people who have a reduced range of hearing. Often, people are unsure if they really have a hearing loss that needs treating. As I converse with them in my office they’ll say, ‘I hear you just fine!’” says Hanan Merrill, owner of Nanaimo Hearing Clinic. “There are two big reasons for this, and neither have anything to do with the person having good hearing. First, my office is a quiet environment quite unlike most of ‘real life.’ Second, I’m accustomed to speaking to those with hearing loss and attempt to compensate by using many of the tips listed below.”
5 ways to help loved ones hear better
At its most basic level, a hearing aid is anything that helps one’s hearing — not just the fancy electronic ears that Hanan spends his days fitting and servicing.
“If you plan to spend time with friends or family that have hearing loss, I encourage you to attempt to BE a hearing aid this holiday season,” he says. “It might just be the best gift this year to someone who struggles to hear, relax, and stay close to those they love.”
- Be aware: If you notice a loved-one is quiet at a holiday dinner or party, they may be having trouble hearing. You can help bring them back into the conversation, or seek them out for a one-on-one in a quiet corner.
- Turn down the volume: Background music or the TV can make it hard to hear conversation — turn it down or turn it off while people are chatting.
- Turn up the lights: Make it easier for those with hearing loss to see facial expressions and the mouths of those speaking. Before you start speaking, get the person’s attention so they can see your face. At the dinner table, consider seating a loved-one with hearing loss at the head of the table where it’s easier for them to see everyone’s faces.
- Speak clearly, and rephrase if needed: Speak slowly, and project your voice without shouting. Try not to interrupt, as that can make it harder to follow a conversation. If someone asks you to repeat a sentence, try rephrasing as well to offer more information.
- Be an advocate: Stick close to a loved-one with hearing loss, or seat them next to someone who will be a patient advocate. Some people are just good at being aware of others’ needs and repeating things as necessary.
“If your loved one doesn’t have hearing aids or seems to be struggling greatly with the ones that they have, maybe it’s time for a hearing check or hearing aid checkup. You might gently ask them if they have had a hearing check up lately,” Hanan says.
For more hearing tips, book an appointment with Nanaimo Hearing Clinic by calling 250-585-4100 or visit nanaimohearingclinic.com/contact. Find Nanaimo Hearing Clinic at 501-5800 Turner Rd in Cactus Club Plaza, Nanaimo.