The do’s and don’ts of talking to someone with hearing loss
The holidays often mean spending time with friends and family. For those experiencing hearing loss, the get-togethers can make it difficult to feel included and connected. Conversations can be hard to follow, making socializing feel overwhelming and isolating. The disconnection felt by people with hearing loss is sometimes deepened by friends and loved ones who don’t understand the hearing loss experience. To avoid this potentially uncomfortable situation, here’s a list of do’s and don’ts to help you better communicate with someone with hearing loss.
Do get their attention
Get the listener’s attention before you begin talking. This gives them the opportunity to focus their attention and catch the beginning of the conversation. Additionally, if you know they hear better in one ear, move to that side.
Don’t say "never mind"
If your loved one asks you to repeat yourself or for clarification, don’t respond with phrases such as “never mind” or “don’t worry about it.” It’s dismissive and excludes them from the conversation. They may even start to withdraw from social settings altogether if it happens enough.
Do position yourself in front of them
People with hearing loss rely on visual cues and lipreading to help them understand. Position yourself so they can see your facial expressions, body language, and gestures.
Yelling distorts your voice and face and can make it more difficult for someone to understand you. Instead, speak clearly and distinctly without exaggerating your words.
Do repeat and rephrase
If the listener can’t understand something you said, repeat it once. If they still don’t understand, rephrase it using different words. Certain words or phrases can be difficult to hear, so choosing different words with the same meaning can help provide more information.
Avoiding someone with hearing loss or talking about them as if they are not present can feel dismissive and isolating. Instead, make an extra effort to include them in the conversation by minimizing background noise whenever possible, acquainting them with the topic of conversation, and letting them know when the topic has changed.
Do encourage them to take care of their hearing health
If a friend or family member is experiencing hearing loss but doesn’t wear hearing aids, encourage them to schedule an appointment with an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist. If they already wear hearing aids but seem to be struggling to hear, suggest they reach out to their hearing health care provider for fine-tuning.
We’re here to help
It’s never too early to start taking care of your hearing health. Regence Medicare Advantage plan members have access to hearing care through TruHearing®. With this benefit, members get up to two hearing aids per year at a low copay. Call TruHearing at 1-833-898-1239 to schedule a hearing exam with a provider near you. If you have questions about your health plan benefit, call us at the number on the back of your member ID card or sign in to your account on regence.com.