The path toward better hearing is an exciting one for both those who have suffered from hearing loss and their loved ones. For device users, there is certainly an acclimation period when first wearing hearing aids, but there are also some adjustments that loved ones can make to ease this process. It all boils down to better communication between both parties. Here are a few tips to help both hearing aid wearers and loved ones improve communication and speed up the adjustment phase.
Tips for Loved Ones
It’s important to understand that your loved one needs time to get used to their new hearing aids. Their brain is relearning how to process and interpret sound and they may often feel a bit overwhelmed when in a crowded room or a noisy environment.
Here’s what you can do to help:
- Speak slowly and clearly – Your loved one is still trying to acclimate to their devices, and they are most likely used to reading your lips as you speak. Talk in slow, short phrases and pronounce your words so they can associate your lip movements with the sound of the words.
- Be aware of where you are standing in comparison to your loved ones – Don’t assume your loved one can hear you if you yell from across the room. When first adjusting to hearing aids, loud noises can be startling and they may not be able to make out what you’re actually saying. In the first few weeks, especially, speak to your loved one while in close proximity to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Use body language – Help your loved one understand what you’re saying by reinforcing your words with body language. Use hand gestures, facial expressions, and other context cues so they can better interpret what you are speaking about.
- Be patient and encourage your loved one to tell you what they need – Adjusting to hearing aids can take time, and your loved one will need as much support from you as possible to help them get used to their devices. Ask them what they need you to do to ease the process so they can focus on re-learning how to hear well.
Hearing Aid Users
Don’t be afraid to speak up. Tell your loved ones what you need from them to help you get used to your new hearing aids. Here are a few things you can do to help your loved ones learn how to best communicate with you.
- Ask loved ones to slow their pace – Your loved ones may not realize they are speaking too fast. Ask them to slow down and speak directly to you so you can see their facial expressions, body language, and other cues and use them to help you interpret what they’re saying.
- Stick to quiet environments at first – It’s natural to get excited about going out to dinner, the movies, or even a concert. However, it can take upwards of four weeks to fully adjust to your new hearing aids. In the first few weeks, ask your loved ones to meet with you in a quiet, well-lit environment to avoid background noise interference. If you do go out somewhere, like a restaurant, ask to sit in a quieter section with your back facing the crowd. If you’re going to a concert, sporting event, church, or other louder environment, get seats or stand in an area that’s closer to the action
- Ask loved ones to repeat themselves – If you don’t understand what someone said the first time, let them know. Ask them to repeat what they said, perhaps in a slower or more pronounced way, or to rephrase their words.
- Tell your loved ones to get your attention – Your loved ones may be speaking slowly and clearly, but you may not even realize they are talking. Ask them to get your attention first before speaking, such as by touching your arm, saying your name, looking directly at you when speaking, or even waving their arms.
Communication is a two-way street. It’s important for both hearing aid users and their loved ones to work together and figure out the best way to speak with each other to ensure the hearing aid adjustment process is as smooth as possible. As a hearing aid user, don’t be afraid to speak up and tell your loved ones what you need. As a loved one of a hearing aid user, be patient and accommodating to ensure your loved one adjusts to their hearing aids and hearing well in general as smoothly as possible.
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