If your friend or family member is coping with hearing loss, there are some actions you can take to assist them with the changes they are experiencing.
Avoid noisy environments
Avoiding noisy environments can make it easier for the person to hear and understand conversation without background noises making it difficult to distinguish important sounds.
Some hearing loss is permanent, but can be helped with hearing aids. There are a few different types of hearing aids an audiologist may recommend .
- In-the-ear (ITE)
This type of hearing aid fits inside the ear canal and on the outer portion of the ear. This type is best for mild hearing loss.
- Behind-the-ear (BTE)
This type fits behind the ear. This hearing aid works for all degrees of hearing loss, including severe. Behind-the-ear aids work with other assistive devices including FM systems, telephone adaptors, and television amplifiers. This is a good option for people who have small ear canals or get ear infections.
- Open fit hearing aids
These are similar to the behind-the-ear aids because the amplifier and electronics sit behind the ear. There is a slim tube and tip that sit inside the ear canal. This is a more comfortable option for people with small canals. Open fit hearing aids work for severe hearing losses and are best for persons with mild to moderate high frequency hearing loss.
- CROS (Contralateral Routing of Signal):
This system is for people with one ear that is unable to be helped by a hearing aid. A microphone on the ear with a deficit can feed sound to the stronger ear.
Lip reading is a difficult skill to learn, but it can come in handy for communicating with others on a daily basis, particularly since the majority of people don’t know sign language.
You can assist with lip reading practice by enunciating clearly and doing quizzes with the friend or family member with a brain injury.
Subtitles for videos
Subtitles for videos and films make it possible to still enjoy visual content without having to rely on audio to understand what is happening. You can put subtitles on most streaming sites easily. It’s important to note that not every streaming site or film/video will have French subtitles.
Use American Sign Language
American Sign Language is an effective way for people with hearing deficits to communicate. Like learning any new language, it will take a lot of time, hard work, and patience to learn. It may also require other members of your household or close community to learn it as well so that they can communicate with the friend or family member with a brain injury. There are courses you can take to help with learning sign language.
- Resources from the Government of Canada on learning sign language
- Frequently asked questions from the Canadian Association of the Deaf
- Education resources from Canadian Hearing Services
Use writing as a communication tool
Reading and writing are effective tools of communication. You can write out what you want to say to your friend of family member if they have trouble hearing. There are also dictation programs available that generate words based on what a person is saying.
Disclaimer: There is no shortage of web-based online medical diagnostic tools, self-help or support groups, or sites that make unsubstantiated claims around diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Please note these sources may not be evidence-based, regulated or moderated properly and it is encouraged individuals seek advice and recommendations regarding diagnosis, treatment and symptom management from a regulated healthcare professional such as a physician or nurse practitioner. Individuals should be cautioned about sites that make any of the following statements or claims that:
- The product or service promises a quick fix
- Sound too good to be true
- Are dramatic or sweeping and are not supported by reputable medical and scientific organizations.
- Use of terminology such as “research is currently underway” or “preliminary research results” which indicate there is no current research.
- The results or recommendations of product or treatment are based on a single or small number of case studies and has not been peer-reviewed by external experts
- Use of testimonials from celebrities or previous clients/patients that are anecdotal and not evidence-based
Always proceed with caution and with the advice of your medical team.