How can the family help?

The family's role in hearing care and rehabilitation is one of patience, understanding, kindness and support. An estimated 28 million people suffer from some degree of hearing loss, which means that either directly or indirectly, each of us is affected. Hearing usually deteriorates very gradually. The process can be so slow that the impaired person may not even be aware of the problem until others notice it. The hearing impaired person exhibits slight personality shifts, asking others to repeat what they say more often or turning up the TV and radio. The entire family may find they are making adjustments to accommodate these changes as well.


The solution may be a hearing aid. However, many hearing impaired individuals resist this help because of the stigma wrongfully attached to hearing aids. With the technology available today, this is indeed a tragic loss and an unnecessary concern. Once the hearing impaired individual accepts the advantages of hearing aids, they may face the often frustrating task of re-learning how to listen. This often takes a period of time to redevelop. Please remember that hearing aids are not new ears and it may not be possible to restore 100% speech understanding in all cases.


During this period, the rest of the family plays an important role in the hearing impaired person's adjustment to amplification. Patience and understanding are important during the initial six (6) to twelve (12) week adjustment period. These guidelines help ease the hearing patients transition to better communication:


  • Some degree of lip reading is part of understanding oral communication; when possible, speak to the hearing aid user's face.


  • Get their attention before you speak.


  • Don't try to communicate from one room to another.


  • It may be necessary to assist in inserting the hearing aid and /or help in changing the batteries in the initial weeks of orientation.


  • Don't try to communicate in noisy environments during the first few weeks of hearing aid use. During this period, the hearing aid user is learning to sort out important sounds from the background; this can be difficult in the beginning.


  • If you haven't been understood, rephrase rather than repeat. With each successful listening experience, the hearing aid user develops more confidence in the hearing aids.


  • The best distance for safe, comfortable television viewing is 8 to 10 feet.


  • Hearing is more difficult when people are tired or ill and in large areas or groups.


Patience and understanding are essential as hearing aid users redevelop listening skills at their own pace. Your attitude can either discourage the use of a hearing aid, or help the hearing impaired person realize its full benefits.