What’s on the line? | Hearing Loss

Visiting friends, family and loved ones over the festive period can be a fun time but it can also be a challenging one, especially if you or they have an acquired hearing loss, usually but not always, age related. Family gatherings, noisy parties and dimmed lights can be very stressful for someone living with a hearing loss and/or a hearing aid user.

Communication tips for speaking to someone with a hearing loss

  • Make sure you have the person’s attention before you start speaking and ensure they can see your full face to help with lip reading.
  • Find a place to talk that has good lighting, away from noise and distractions.
  • Speak clearly, not too slowly, and use normal lip movements, facial expressions and gestures.
  • Check what you’re saying is being understood. If it isn’t, try saying it in a different way.
  • Please don’t shout: it’s uncomfortable for a hearing aid user if you shout and it looks aggressive.
  • Try and keep sentences short, use plain language and don’t go on and on!

Tips for parties / family gatherings / meals if you have hearing loss

  • Don’t try to hide your hearing loss. Acknowledge you are not hearing as well as you used to (not always easy to admit!) so that people will be more likely to look directly at you when talking, and speak clearly when addressing you, you could say – “I don’t hear so well when it’s noisy, it would really help if…”
  • Look for an area that is quiet and well lit, which will help when lipreading.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t hear everything! Following a conversation around a large formal dining table is a challenge for most people, so instead, try and enjoy a series of one-on-one conversations throughout the evening with people nearest to you. Trying to listen to someone at the other end of the table can prove futile and frustrating.
  • If you are eating out, try to find a seat that backs on to a wall or soft furnishings so they can absorb some of the background noise in a busy, noisy restaurant.
  • Technology can help. Practice in advance with different hearing aid settings to find which works best for you when its noisy. For example, there may be a setting that reduces background noise. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new technologies like personal FM systems.
  • Take breaks from socialising to give your ears and brain a rest if needed – find a quiet spot to relax for a few minutes. Small gaps in listening can help to reboot you for another round of mingling.
  • Don’t pretend! It can be tempting to smile and nod, pretending to hear what others are saying to avoid embarrassment or unwanted attention, but it can impact your relationships if you do this too often. Instead, give visual clues to indicate that you are having trouble hearing like cupping our ear with your hand or looking puzzle. This lets the speaker know to talk louder but does not interrupt the flow of the conversation.
  • Relax and have fun: Bring reasonable expectations and a good dose of humour with you. You might not hear everything that everyone says, but that is okay. Try and laugh when hearing mistakes occur – many can be quite funny if you let them. Remember, you are there to have fun.

Are any of these statements true for you or a loved one?

  1. Grandads TV is sooooo loud!

    Advice: Since hearing loss commonly affects higher frequencies in older people try to compensate by turning down the bass and upping the treble on the TV. You can also try using a sound bar. Subtitles might also be an option especially for pre-recorded programmes like Soap Operas. It may take a little experimenting but worth the effort for a quieter TV experience.
  2. My wife constantly asks me to repeat things…

    Advice: Make sure your wife can see your face when you are talking to her, speak clearly and raise your voice slightly but don’t shout. Lipreading lessons can be of great benefit. Get in contact with ATLA for local lipreading classes in your area or asked to be referred to a Hearing Therapist at your local Audiology Department.
  3. My partner can’t hear me calling them from another room

    Advice: Walk before you talk! Listening from another room can be tricky especially if there is background noise. Try going into the same room as the person you are talking to, be mindful that it is easier to listen in different rooms, e.g. the living room is good because usually it has carpets and curtains and soft furnishings that help absorb background noise. In kitchens and bathroom because of the hard surfaces like Tiles, sound can sound tinny and less clear.
  4. Everything sounds muffled

    Advice: Age related hearing loss means that softer sounds like endings of words can sometimes be difficult to hear which can makes sentences sound muffled and unclear or you might miss-hear things Match might sound like Mash.
    These statements can be classic signs of the beginning of age related hearing loss so, if you are worried you or someone you know might have a hearing loss don’t wait! If you are over 55 you can refer yourself directly to your local Audiology department for a free hearing test or you can request a hearing test at some GP surgeries. If you have more complex requirements, then will need to be referred by your GP to ENT first.


Further advice and support
Hearing link – Information, specialist services, and social contact, in order to live well with a hearing loss.
Action on hearing loss – Information on hearing loss, buying equipment and local services
Atla – find out about local lipreading classes in your area

If you need further support, call us on 0800 500 1895 (local call rate), send a text to 07712 395 398 (standard message rate) or drop us an email at [email protected]. We’re here to help you.


Information & Signposting Officer