How To Love Someone With Hearing Loss

Do you love someone with hearing loss? With almost 50 million Americans and 360 million people worldwide with disabling hearing loss, chances are that you do. Supporting them can be confusing — you may not fully understand the challenges they face as someone with hearing loss, or they may not want to discuss it or ask for help. Even if they deny it, deep down they still want your love and support.

Loving someone with hearing loss requires work — there are conversation best practices to incorporate, hearing loss exhaustion to work around and loud venues to avoid. There are bouts of frustration and sadness to support people through, and ongoing education about new hearing aid and assistive listening device technologies to learn. It can require extra effort, but when you love somebody, it is worth it.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

Show Someone With Hearing Loss That You Love Them

How can you show the people in your life with hearing loss that you value them? Here are my suggestions. Please share your ideas in the comments.

1. Make conversations easier. Use conversation best practices like facing the person and getting his attention first. Don’t speak to him from another room or with your mouth covered. Do this consistently and before you are asked or reminded for what feels like the umpteenth time. Voluntary compliance is a true sign of caring.

2. Check to see if they understood. Group settings, cocktail parties and loud restaurants make it hard for everyone to understand speech, let alone someone with hearing loss. When in a challenging environment, glance over at your friend to see if they look confused and if they do, do a quick repeat to catch them up. This shows you care and allows them to skip asking “What” every once in a while.

3. Let them pick the restaurant. Most people with hearing loss have a few go-to restaurants that work for them. Let them pick the venue or suggest you meet for a meal in the quiet of someone’s home. Remind them that their company is more important than the dynamic ambiance of the hot new restaurant.

4. Tell them that you care. Hearing loss can be isolating, leaving people feeling lonely, left out and sad. Reach out to the people with hearing loss that you love and let them know you care. Seek them out for social activities that work for you both. Encourage them to come to the party or other gathering even if it will be hard to hear and help them find a way to enjoy it.

5. Use closed captions when watching TV. Some people find the closed captions to be a nuisance, particularly if they cover the score or other stats during a sporting event. Making sure the closed captions are always on helps the person with hearing loss feel included and part of the fun without needing to make any special requests.

6. Encourage them to use assistive listening devices at the movies, theater and other places. Help them enquire into the options ahead of time so things go smoothly at the venue. Remove any stigma associated with using these devices by being an active participant in their acquisition. Getting the devices for them removes one self-advocacy battle they have to fight that day.

7. Laugh at the mis-hearings. Hearing loss can be very funny if you let it be. Treat hearing loss as just one part of them, like a distaste for spicy food or a terrible sense of direction. Everyone has something that challenges them in their everyday life. Remove the stigma by treating hearing loss as just one of those obstacles we all face.

8. Protect your hearing. Show that you understand the difficulties associated with hearing loss by protecting your own hearing and encouraging those around you to do so as well. Wear hearing protection at concerts, on planes, and other loud places. Valuing your hearing shows respect for those who struggle with their own.

Readers, how do you show love for the people with hearing loss in your life?

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13 thoughts on “How To Love Someone With Hearing Loss

  1. Great points, Shari…all so true.
    I’ve been sharing all of your posts with the support group that I started, in the country where I now live.
    Everyone here appreciates all that you say!
    You’re walking the walk; not just talking the talk!

    Best,
    RK

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  2. I am hard of hearing since I was born I have been struggling with two languages .Here in Pakistan deaf and hearing loss have no place in society. They have law that they have a seat for disable but noone apply the law.
    I have been teaching for 5 years in art college but they treat me like I am no one. Then they called me and said that you can come but you wont get the pay.

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  3. Not sure if it is acceptable to quote Bible here. I Corinthians 13 should be the rule for all to follow regarding love (charity). Churches should always follow that rule of meeting the needs of every person depending on their hearing loss. Interpreters wouldn’t be helpful to many on this list of suggestions to which I am assuming is intended for those who are stuck between the two worlds which is great in itself. More awareness is needed to meet the needs of all who struggle. Good article by the way.

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  4. Your post, with all its good advice, makes me wonder how I did not think of some of these things for my late mother in law, who had lost much of her hearing by the time she passed at age 90 in November. We had learned to face her when speaking, and to make sure we were continuing to include her in conversations (I don’t know how many times she somehow dropped out, especially when there were several of us in the room with her.) I had never thought about the closed captioning on the TV set. Nor did I ever think of asking her cell phone carrier if there were ways we could help, because she got to the point where she could not use the phone without help because she just couldn’t hear. I’m sharing this post with others!

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  5. All of these are wonderful suggestions. People with hearing loss need to know that they matter, that their presence is valued and yes that they are loved.

    if I may add one to this it would be that the hearing world needs to understand if we need to take our hearing devices off and have a few minutes to “recharge” and rest our ears and our brain. Then we will be back and more focused and relaxed.

    Thanks for sharing these.

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