Hearing Loss

How to Support a Loved One with Hearing Loss

As with so many things, the secret to supporting a loved one who has hearing loss is to be there, to live their hearing journey with them, understand the new way of life they’re adjusting to and look for ways to make that transition as easy as possible. Yes, that’s a fairly broad way to describe it, so we’ve put together some practical tips for you, as well!

  • Help them realize what’s happening. Your first act of support may very well be getting your loved one to acknowledge his or her hearing loss in the first place. Hearing loss tends to come on so gradually, people don’t even notice it until it gets to a point where it interferes with life. 
  • Ease them into accepting the possibility. Hearing loss isn’t something people enjoy accepting, since for many it still carries a stigma of disability or “getting old.” One very good way to approach the topic is to suggest going together for a hearing test as something people should just start doing as a regular part of an annual healthcare regimen.
  • Be a good listener. Sometimes, the most understanding and compassionate thing you can do for someone is to simply sit and listen as they process a situation aloud. A person with hearing loss is facing the diminishing of a sense they’ve depended on and enjoyed for a lifetime. It can be a very emotional experience.
  • Learn how to communicate. The hearing loss of a family member or friend will change your life, too. Speaking with that person will become a very different experience. You may have to meet in different places than you have traditionally, in order to avoid background noise. You’ll also need to converse more actively by making sure they always have a clear view of your face and eyes, getting their attention before telling them something and patiently repeating bits of conversation they missed.
  • Help others adjust. Make sure other people in your family or circle of friends understand that life is now different for someone they care about. Tell them about some of the communication techniques you’ve learned. Remind people to keep background music low at parties. Ask that the person with hearing loss be seated near you at dinner so you can help them navigate conversation.

The most important thing, however, we said at the very beginning: Be there. If you maintain a supportive, loving presence in your loved one’s life, you’re sure to learn much from the shared experience of their hearing health journey. And you’ll also contribute greatly to helping them understand that their world hasn’t changed, just the way they need to approach it.