How to help relatives and friends with hearing loss

By developing a few good habits, you can make conversation much easier for people with hearing loss.

Make it easy to read your lips

Face the person you are talking to. Don't try to converse from a different room or with your back turned. It is easier to hear what people say when you can see what they are saying.

Visual clues like facial expressions and lip movements do a lot to help listeners understand your words.

Stand where your face is well lit. This makes it easier to see your facial expressions and read your lips.

Try not to talk while chewing or smoking — it makes it harder to understand what you are saying, and almost impossible for others to read your lips.

If you talk while reading the newspaper, or lean your cheek on your hand while talking, this will also make lip- reading difficult.

Speak at a natural pace and level

You don't need to shout. Speaking at a normal conversational level when talking with someone who wears a hearing aid is perfectly OK. Most instruments are programmed to amplify a normal level of speech, so if you shout it may be too loud for the listener.

Try not to talk too fast. Speak naturally, but try to pronounce your words more clearly. This will naturally slow your speed, but be careful not to overdo it.

If you are having trouble being understood, try re-phrasing your sentence rather than just repeating yourself. Some words are more easily heard or lip-read than others.

Try to reduce background noise.

For someone who is hard of hearing, the most difficult listening environment is background noise. Voices are difficult to hear because they are in competition with all the other noise, so try to eliminate background noise when holding a conversation. Turn off the television and close any open windows to reduce any noise from traffic.

Move closer to your listener so your voice is louder than the background noise. This will also make your face and lips easier to read.

Alternatively, try to find somewhere quieter to talk.

For a free consultation contact O’Neill Hearing Care Clinic Ltd, Galway, on (091 ) 862220 or (085 ) 1192266. For more information visit www.oneillhearingcare.ie

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