How to Help a Loved One with Hearing Impairment


How_to_Help_a_Loved_One_with_Hearing_Impairment.jpgHearing impairment is the partial or total inability to hear, effecting both children and adults throughout the U.S. Dealing with hearing loss is never easy, and it can be stressful and frustrating for the listener and the communicating partner. If someone close to you has difficulty with hearing, there are many ways you can offer help and support.

Understand the Types of Hearing Loss

Understanding the different types of hearing loss and which one your loved has makes it easier to cope with and know how their hearing has changed. There are three impairments that affect individuals: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss is the interference of sound passing from the middle ear to the inner ear. Usually temporary in nature, possible causes are earwax buildup or fluid, infection, or a punctured eardrum. This condition impedes the conveyance of sound in its mechanical form as it travels through the middle ear cavity to the inner ear. It changes the intensity, or volume, of sound, meaning the energy that reaches the inner ear is lower than the original stimulus.

Sensorineural hearing loss is when the hearing organ and an auditory nerve are damaged or malfunctioning, resulting in the inability to accurately send electrical information to the brain. This impairment is generally permanent. The hearing nerves degenerate or are unable to convey neurochemical information through central auditory pathways. In addition to reducing intensity, it also contains a distortion element, where sounds are unclear even if they are loud enough.

Mixed hearing loss contains elements of both conductive and sensorineural loss. Those with mixed hearing loss will experience both temporary and permanent aspects. While conductive may be amenable to treatment, hearing aids are usually necessary.

Change How You Communicate

Helping a loved one with their hearing impairment requires adapting current communication styles. The listener may need more cues and other adjustments to continue to feel like they’re part of the conversation. As the communicative partner, you may need to also encourage them to use the technology and assisted hearing help available to them. The effects of hearing impairment can leave the listener frustrated and anxious, but there are many ways to improve communication tactics.

Getting the listener’s attention before speaking and repositioning your body to face them are cues that make the listener aware you’re addressing them. Although subtle, they’re effective in initiating conversation and avoiding feelings of being ignored. Clarification is very important, too, as their brain needs more time to process what’s been said. Try paraphrasing sentences instead of repeating verbatim. Going anywhere loud may require sitting up close to the front, such as attending a lecture, or it could mean picking a restaurant that’s less noisy, with the option to sit in a quiet corner.

Remember that even when you find it difficult to communicate with your loved one, they find it difficult to hear and understand you. Be patient. Both of you will need to work together to keep communication open and ongoing.

Seek Professional Help

The professionals at Associated Audiologists understand all aspects of hearing. They are committed to their patients to provide the best service, and they work to improve their patients’ lives using the best audiologist care. They know how to find the right hearing aid that doesn’t just make everything louder, but allows the ability to communicate and actually hear what was said.

Their knowledgeable and personable staff work to provide the facts and expectations that patients and loved ones need. Audiologists use the latest technology to diagnose hearing loss and lay out a road map to determine the best treatment and aid recommendations. These doctoral-level professionals are specialists in hearing aid technology, providing quality, individualized, and comprehensive care for those with a hearing impairment and related disorders.

Click here to schedule an appointment with a member of our doctoral-level staff today.