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Communicating Effectively with Seniors Who Have Impaired Hearing

By Beth Brown, 9:00 am on

Communicating with a senior loved one who has hearing loss or impairment can be frustrating for both of you and can lead to confusion and crossed wires. Luckily, this can become more manageable if you follow a few simple tips, provided by the senior care experts at Palm Beach Home Care Assistance. 

Face Your Loved One When Speaking

When talking with your loved one, it is helpful to look at him or her when you are speaking. Generally, hearing impairment in seniors develops gradually and your loved one’s other senses may start to compensate for the hearing loss. Because of this, your loved one may become able to better understand by looking at you, reading your lips, and seeing your facial expressions. Without consciously practicing lip reading or taking classes, your loved one might not be aware he or she has this skill. However, it explains why your loved one often asks you to repeat yourself when he or she can’t see your face but can hear you well when looking at you. It is good to play to this strength whether it is conscious or subconscious. 

Talk Slowly and Enunciate 

While it isn’t necessary to speak extremely slow, avoid speaking to your loved one too quickly. Speaking rapidly or rushing through what you want to say can overwhelm your loved one when trying to hear you and processing the information you’re giving. It is important to make each word crisp and clear. Mumbling or slurring words together can make the task of hearing and understanding more difficult for your loved one. It’s also important not to whisper or speak in too soft a voice. Speak with a normal voice or slightly louder than normal for best results. 

Choose a Quiet Place 

Having a discussion with your loved one when there is extraneous noise in the background can be frustrating for both of you. Though we learn to filter out unneeded noise and focus during an active conversation, this skill becomes more difficult for older people. Multitasking becomes more challenging with age, and combining it with hearing loss can make trying to understand a conversation overwhelming. Choose a location with no ambient noise and block off distractions by shutting the door or letting other people know you need to have quiet time for a conversation. 

Phrase Your Words Differently 

Try using different words to explain what you mean if your loved one asks you to repeat yourself. Sometimes a senior’s trouble in understanding is the wordage being used. Perhaps something about that particular word or sound makes it difficult for your loved one to hear or the phrasing combined with the hearing loss is a problem. Instead, try to rephrase what you are saying using synonyms and a different order of words.

Hearing loss can have a significant impact on your loved one’s daily life. If he or she needs assistance with important tasks such as transportation or medication reminders, or just needs a compassionate companion for emotional support, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are available 24/7 to assist your loved one by using our Balanced Care Method, an evidence-based program with a focus on promoting purpose and calm. We also offer Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and stroke care for seniors in Palm Beach with more extensive needs. For more information on our senior care services, please call one of our qualified Care Managers at 561.429.8292 today.