To successfully communicate with any party, all parties involved must make conscious efforts to listen and partake in such a conversation but how do you cope when you are communicating with a senior that is deaf or hard of hearing? This takes us back to the topic of this article and we’ll be listing some ways through which one can effectively and efficiently communicate with seniors that are hard of hearing. Asides the senior in question using hearing aids and other listening strategies, the other parties involved must also note that they have a crucial and active role to play, they must therefore use good communication strategies and these strategies include:
- Face the person directly and in a bright room whenever you want to communicate with such a person whenever possible.
- Be in the same room with such a person as the inability of the person to see you when you’re talking might cause a difficulty in him/her hearing or understanding what is being said.
- Speak clearly, slowly, loudly but without shouting as shouting distorts the sound of speech and can make the art of speech reading more difficult.
- Start the conversation by saying the person's name because it gives the him/her the chance to pay attention and it also reduces the chance of missing what was said at the beginning of the conversation.
- Avoid rushing when communicating with someone that is hearing-impaired or using complex sentences that are obviously difficult to comprehend. Take it a step at a time, be sure to pause between sentences and also make sure you are well understood before going on.
- Be sure to put your hands away from your face while communicating with such a person as it will only make your speech more difficult to read. So, do not eat, chew, or smoke while talking to an hearing-impaired senior. Beards and moustaches can also hinder ability of such a person to speech read.
- If he or she hears better in one ear than the other, always remember which ear to be closer to whenever you want to communicate with him/her.
- Be conscious of possible misinterpretation of sounds for such a person as he/she may hear your voice and still not be able to understand or process some words.
- Reduce background noise as most hearing-impaired people have substantial difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise, so always be sure to minimize any unnecessary source of noise when talking. Some of them are also sensitive to loud sounds which is not uncommon, so always avoid instances where there will be loud sounds.
- If the person is finding it difficult to understand a particular phrase or word, find a different and better way of saying the same thing instead of repeating the original words repeatedly.
- Let him/her be acquainted with the topic you are discussing on, avoid suddenly changing the topic and whenever it is changed, carry the person along by telling him/her what you are talking about at the moment. Also, it should be noted that questions or facts should be repeated whenever you are in a large gathering for such a person to understand better.
- When giving specific information like time, place or phone numbers to a hearing-impaired person, have them repeat it as many numbers and words sound just the same.
- Make sure to provide relevant information like directions, schedules, work assignments, etc. in writing to such a person when necessary.
- Admit that everyone, particularly the hearing-impaired, has a tougher time hearing and understanding when unwell or tired.
- Pay attention to such a person as a puzzled look indicates misunderstanding, so carry the person along by carefully asking if he/she understood you.
If you think someone you love has a new or worsening hearing problem, suggest they see a doctor for a hearing test. A specialist can determine the cause of their hearing issue, offer potential solutions and recommend techniques for better communication that will help them navigate social situations and maintain their quality of life.
For more helpful suggestions on communicating with seniors with hearing loss or general senior home care tips, get in touch with Effraim Home Care at (215) 826-7422. Our experienced and highly skilled senior care team is on hand to plan and prepare wholesome and delicious meals, pick up medications, provide transportation to doctors’ appointments, and much more. We’re on hand to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year according to each person’s particular preferences and schedule. Offering home care in Bryn Mawr, in addition to many other PA communities, we look forward to helping make life easier and more enjoyable for you and the older adults you love!