Taking care of someone with a special need or physical disability can be difficult. There are many different considerations and concerns that often need to be addressed. Depending on the disorder or condition, a caregiver often has to change his or her behaviour to better address the patient's needs. When dealing with someone who is hard of hearing, there are several different steps that a caregiver can take to make communication more easily accomplished. The following explains more about some of the steps that you can take when you speak to someone with a hearing problem.
First and foremost, an individual who wants to effectively speak with someone who is hard of hearing should treat the patient with respect. No one that is witnessing a loss of hearing wants to feel less than adequate. For this reason, it becomes important to treat them as you would any other individual you are caring for, albeit with slight behaviour modifications. This is important because it allows for a level of comfort in a situation that can be frustrating and allows the patient to really open up and trust their caregiver.
If speaking with someone who is hard of hearing, it is important also to make sure that you have their attention. Those with hearing loss can become distracted easily or not notice that you are attempting to communicate with them. This can lead to confusion and a lost chance at speaking clearly and effectively. One way to ensure that you have his or her attention is to make eye contact. Eye contact will ensure that there is a focus on the conversation and a visual connection prior to an auditory one.
It is already difficult enough for someone who is hard of hearing to separate the important sounds around them from the background noise. For caregivers, it is important to remove these background sounds and speak in the quietest environment possible. This allows the patient to focus on what is being said with minimal chance of sound distraction.
The cadence is important when speaking to someone who is hard of hearing. Be sure to speak clearly and at a consistent pace. You may wish to slow down your speech but do not draw out your words too much. If you draw out your words this can be confusing and make it more difficult to have a conversation because the sounds become distorted. Instead, go slowly and steadily while style enunciating the words clearly. This can help to break the sound difficulty barrier and allow for clearer communication.
Technology can be a great way to help in speaking with someone who has a hearing difficulty. There are several different devices, from texting devices to auditory transferal machines that can make communication more easily accomplished. Do not assume, though, that these should be used automatically. Instead, wait for the patient to ask you for the device or to utilize one that they already have. Assuming that they want help via technology can be insulting, especially for those who want their independence and to feel as unencumbered as possible. Having the technology ready but waiting to ask can be a great way to ensure that there is communication and speech without incidental offense.
When a caregiver speaks to an individual who is hard of hearing, they should check to ensure that their communication is effective. By checking in and asking if clarification needs to occur or if there is repetition required, the individual with the hearing disability will feel as if they are being given the opportunity to ask for other assistance or something to be repeated. Always speak in a respectful way, as noted above, when checking in with the patient and repeat if necessary. Do not get frustrated, remain calm, and remember that problems with communication can weigh heavily on those with hearing loss so make sure that you help as much as possible.
Laura writes for www.yourhearing.co.uk, a UK based website that is dedicated to helping those who are hard of hearing to find ways to improve their lifestyle through the use of the perfect hearing aid.