Hearing loss is invisible, and it is the second-largest disability. Not only can we not see who is experiencing hearing loss, but it can also make those people feel invisible. If a family member has hearing loss, there are plenty of ways to help him or her cope and thrive. While it can be a challenge, you must build a support system.

Hearing loss can physically put lives in danger as it can mean people can't hear warning sounds or voices of people. However, emotionally, the impact can resonate throughout the family. They also experience frustration from repeating things over and over again at the same time as feeling sadness at seeing a family member isolate themselves from the people and activities they enjoy. So, what else can you do to deal with a family member who is experiencing hearing loss?

Learn about what they're going through

It's well known that hearing loss has a significant impact on life and can strain relationships, cause stress, hurt feelings and cause frustration over miscommunication. So, it's important not to beat yourself up about this; it's perfectly normal. However, you must do something about it, and learning more about the hearing loss will increase your patience. Being able to relate to what your family member is experiencing with hearing loss can help you to understand and see things from their point of view. First, you should have a proper conversation with them and ask questions to understand how they are feeling and what they are experiencing. You can also use technology to learn even more. Several sites will simulate a hearing loss to get a clear picture of what the world sounds like for a person with hearing loss. You can also do some research and find out more about products and technology that can help your family member, such as alerting devices, amplified telephones and hearing loop systems

Advise them to seek help

You need to encourage your family member to see an audiologist about their hearing loss as soon as possible. You should also offer to go with them as this can be an excellent way to find out more about their particular hearing loss. Also, try not to speak for them or to leave them out of the conversation – make sure they know the conversation topic.

Be patient 

It's essential to be patient and supportive and, at the same time, encourage your family member to explain their hearing loss to other people so that they can carry on socializing, and so can you. Also, tell your family member not to apologize for losing their hearing – it's no one's fault.

Set a good example

As you are close to them, you must set a good example for others to follow. This means speaking clearly and a little slower so that your family member can understand you, and other people can see how it is best to communicate with them. 

Take your time

When communicating with your family member, make sure you have their attention before you say anything. You should use their name to attract their attention as people usually hear their name better than they hear other words. Also, don't speak to them from behind; tap them on the arm to attract their attention.

Remember external factors

It's important to remember that your family member may find it harder to hear what you're saying if they are tired if you are in a situation where everyone is talking at once, the TV, radio or washing machine is on in the background. Simply switching off background noise and making sure you're in the same room before you start conversations will make a massive difference to how well you communicate.

Help your family member with lipreading

Lipreading is a vital communication skill for people with hearing loss, but it needs a lot of practice and concentration. You should find a suitable environment with good lighting, away from noise and distractions and make it easier for them by being at the same level as your family member and about three to six feet away. Make sure your family member is looking at you before you speak and that you are facing the light so they can see your face. Speak clearly at a moderate pace, without raising your voice or overemphasizing your speech and use natural facial expressions, gestures and body language and try not to turn away while you are talking.

To learn more about hearing loss, speak with a qualified hearing professional at Arkansas Professional Hearing Care by calling (501) 588-0177.