In many instances, the person who suffers from hearing loss is the last person to be aware of it. Imagine, a hearing impaired person hears very little. It feels like they are in a quiet environment all the time, which can be a very comfortable place for many people. Yet, it is also a very unhealthy environment to be in, cut off from the voices of people and especially people you love.
What what can we do to help them? Use these simple points as a guideline on how we can help.
1) Breathe deeply and take care of yourself first.
Often people forget that the family around hearing impaired people also face frustration and exasperation. In Singapore and Malaysian societies, our families often live three generations under one roof, where grand children, parents and grandparents communicate with each other on a daily basis.
We understand that often you have to shout at a family member who cannot hear. It can be an embarrassing and difficult experience but such situations can be reduced the sooner we can bring the hearing impaired person to seek help.
2) Speak with reasonable volume, but slowly.
Many people speak loudly to hearing impaired people But often it is the speed of the speech which can confuse them. Always face the listener when you speak. Keep your voice in a conversation slow and loud - pronouncing each word fully instead of rolling over them. Hand gestures can be an additional tool to help them understand what you are saying.
3) Try to understand their mental state and their perception of what hearing loss is about.
There can be a lot of apprehension for someone to deal with the fact that they have hearing loss. It can be a very difficult fact to accept for the individual and needs time before it is accepted.
Research has shown that most hearing impaired people enter five different mental stages when they deal with hearing loss.
Did you know it can take up to 15 years for someone to start from denial to acceptance? A lot of this time can be saved if family members and friends, can see the obvious signs of the stages of hearing loss and intervene carefully, taking care of the emotional state of the individual.
4) Offer solidarity: Go for a hearing test with them.
The presence of family and friends around what is perceived as a negative experience (the hearing test), can help alleviate their fears and offer comfort. In reality, the hearing test is a very enriching and comfortable experience but some hearing impaired people will harbor an irrational fear of going through any sort of clinical session.
5) Keep their minds open to change.
There is a lot unknown for the hearing impaired person. They are often confused and distressed about their situation. They’ve never had a hearing problem and suddenly they are aware of it. It is important at this stage for them to have an open outlook to how things can change for the better. Starting with a hearing test, is one of those changes.