Does your partner often struggle in conversations? Don’t worry, this is normal for someone who is hard of hearing even while wearing a hearing aid. The key to making social interactions more fun is to develop good communication strategies. In this post, we will discuss what you can do as the partner of someone with hearing loss to help them in conversations.

My partner has hearing loss. How do I help them understand me better?

1. Ask your partner what they think will work best for them in a conversation

Sometimes just asking your partner what would make a conversation easier for them will be the most effective. The person with hearing loss can tell you exactly what does and doesn’t work for them. 

2. Face your partner and reduce the distance between you.

The majority of people with hearing loss will struggle if you say something from another room. Find your partner in the house and face them while you talk to them. The ideal listening distance is less than 2 meters apart for someone with hearing difficulties. Try not to cover your mouth, so your partner can lip-read and it will make the volume of your voice louder.

3. Speak clearly and don’t shout

Sometimes it can be tempting to yell. Especially if you’ve been repeating yourself! However, shouting distorts your voice and will make it even harder to understand. Instead, try speaking as clearly as possible and perhaps a little slower.

4. Reduce background noise

Close the door of the room, turn off any noisy appliances like the tv or radio, or choose quiet public settings for your conversations. If your partner is still struggling, remind them that they can adjust the settings of their hearing aid to hear better. 

5. Rephrase your sentence

Repeat something exactly the way you said it the first time, once. If your partner still can’t understand, rephrase your sentence in a different way as this may be easier for your partner to understand. Most people do this naturally but you may have to think about how to do this. An example is:

“I want us to go to the new restaurant tonight that opened just down the street.” You can rephrase this to “Tonight, lets go to the new restaurant which just opened. It’s just down the street!”

6. Attend an audiology appointment with your partner if you are still struggling with conversations.

Your partner’s audiologist will know exactly what may work based on your partner's hearing loss. They may also be able to help you with extra devices to make conversations easier. For example, you may have a very quiet voice or are unable to project your voice better due to health issues. In this case a special microphone such as a Phonak Roger pen can transmit your voice directly to your partner’s hearing aids.

Remember that these strategies will take practice but conversations will get easier for you over time. If you need any more expert advice, you can always ring the friendly Hearing SA team for assistance on 0403 690 980.