Eldercare Communicating with the Hearing Impaired

Hearing loss is a common problem for adults over age 65.

When hearing loss is left untreated, those suffering from loss may avoid conversations or be embarrassed to participate in social functions. Learning non–verbal and verbal communication techniques can help hearing impaired seniors participate in daily activities.

Some suggestions for communicating effectively with hard of hearing seniors include the following tips: enunciate clearly, face the person, maintain eye contact, do not cover your mouth, and sit at eye level. Before starting any conversation, turn down the television or radio. Background noise can make understanding the conversation difficult. Speak slowly and clearly during a conversation and use body language or hand gestures when appropriate. Do not eat or drink when speaking with someone who is hard of hearing. If hearing problems are worse in one ear, try speaking (not yelling) into the other ear during the conversation. For severe hearing impairment that can’t be treated, use a dry erase board or a note pad to convey vital messages. Lastly, be patient and repeat any words or phrases when it is necessary.

Communication Tips

• Enunciate clearly.
• Speak into the good ear.
• Do not eat or drink when speaking.
• Sit at eye level.
• Do not cover your mouth.
• Face the person.
• Use hand symbols or body language.
• Use a dry erase board.
• Lower background noise from the TV or radio.
• Maintain eye contact.
• Repeat words when it is necessary.

Don’t allow age related hearing loss to isolate a family member. Seek help from an audiologist or a consultant on aging. With proper knowledge, assistive devices, and the use of verbal and non- verbal techniques, seniors with hearing loss can rejoin family conversations and social activities.

Author:  Michelle Graham, CSA, Certified Senior Advisor, CIRS-A, CAP, Eldercare Consultant, CEO and Co-Founder of Graham & Graham Eldercare Consultants LLC

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