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How to deal with hearing loss at family events

Spending time with family is very important to members of older generations. But for those with hearing loss, these lovely occasions can quickly turn into lonely struggles to take part in conversation. This sense of isolation is especially common when family members do not make an effort to accommodate the hearing needs of their relatives with hearing loss.

If you have a family member who is hard of hearing, take it upon yourself to make sure they feel included at the next family lunch or dinner. Even if they wear hearing aids, they still might need you to put in some extra effort! We’ve assembled a list of tips for you to keep in mind.

Remind all guests before the event that there is a member of the family who has a hearing loss

Since hearing loss is an invisible impairment, is it very easy to forget that someone has it. Educate family members about the type and extent of hearing loss experienced by the hard of hearing relative, and remind them of the basic communication needs of people with hearing loss:

  • When speaking to someone with hearing loss, face him or her directly.
  • Do no attempt to speak to them from another room or out of their line of sight. Get their attention with a polite tap on the arm.
  • Speak clearly and naturally. Make sure to enunciate your words!
  • Keep your hands and other obstructions away from your face. Hands, chewing gum and food can make it hard for someone who is hard of hearing to understand you.
  • Take it in turns to speak. Talking over others can easily confuse the listener.
  • Do not simply repeat yourself over and over again if the listener doesn’t understand something. Phrase the sentence differently or even try writing it down.
  • Do not shout or over-exaggerate facial expressions. This can come across as rude and aggressive.

Ensure the room where the event will take place is well lit

Quite often, people with hearing loss need to be able to see your face when having a conversation so they can lip-read when necessary.

Consider holding the event outside

When a lot of people gather indoors, the sound of their voices reverberating against the walls can make it very difficult for someone who is hard of hearing to understand anything. Outdoor events are generally much quieter.

Control background noise

It is generally very difficult for those with hearing loss to hear over loud background noise. Do not play loud music, and keep other external sounds to a minimum. If the family function is taking place in a restaurant, make sure it is not a noisy one.

Check the seating arrangements

If you are organising a sit down dinner or lunch, consider the size and shape of the table and how it will affect your family member with hearing loss. For example, a large round table makes it difficult for them to carry on conversations. It is also a good idea to seat them with people who will be patient and repeat things if necessary.
By taking these tips into consideration, you can help create the perfect family lunch or dinner to accommodate your family member with hearing loss.

Do you have any other tips to deal with this issue? Let us know in the comments below. 

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