Patience and methodical communication can help deal with hearing loss
Hearing loss is a common part of aging. Approximately one in three people between 65 and 74 years of age and almost half of seniors older than 75 suffer from impaired hearing.
Communicating with a loved one with hearing losscan be difficult and frustrating for both parties involved. Though there are devices available to help an individual hear, it is important for both the senior and those in their inner circle to learn and develop strategies that make communicating easier and more effective. Here are some tips for starting this process:
The first step in communicating with a senior who has hearing loss is getting their attention
If you’re attempting to speak to your aging senior from another room or while standing behind them, chances are slim that you’re going to get their attention. One of the first steps to communicating effectively is “setting the stage” for the conversation. For seniors, that includes explaining to loved ones how best to talk to them. Is it easier for someone to speak closer to their face? Would they prefer a quiet room? A well-lit room? Are they relying on lip reading as much sound to understand the message?
For the other participant in the conversation, it’s important to face the senior directly, standing or sitting at eye-level, and in good lighting whenever possible. Try to position yourself so that there isn’t any light shining into your senior’s eyes and be sure to say the individual’s name before beginning a conversation. These steps ensure that someone struggling with hearing loss will have a chance to focus his or her attention on the speaker without running the risk of missing words at the beginning of the conversation.
Hearing loss communication includes learning to listen with ears and eyes
As an aging individual learns to cope with hearing trouble, he or she will learn to leverage both ears and eyes. It’s important for you to do the same. Pay attention to the senior’s face while you’re speaking, as you might be able to pick up on visual cues, such as a puzzled or frustrated look.
Since you know an elderly individual is listening via visual cues, make sure to avoid covering your mouth with your hands; they’ll be reliant on reading your lips if they didn’t hear something clearly. If you are giving specific information, like a time or a place, have them repeat the information back to you to ensure they understood it.
Hearing loss requires empathy
It’s frustrating for both parties involved – especially the individual with hearing trouble. As much as you want your loved one with hearing loss to hear what you’re saying, they want to be able to understand and participate in the conversation. Be patient and empathetic about their situation and put forth your best effort to communicate clearly. This includes being aware of any possible distortion of sounds from the underlying condition or a malfunctioning hearing aid, plus recognizing that your loved one will have a more difficult time communicating with you if they are sick or tired.
Overemphasizing the conversation by talking very slowly or loudly might embarrass them. That’s why it’s important to let an individual explain how they want to be spoken to, and adjust as you go.
Hearing aids and support groups can provide significant benefits
Both devices and people can mitigate the impact of hearing loss. Listening devices such as personal amplifiers, infrared headsets, and alerting devices can all help your loved one hear more effectively. While these devices might take a little getting used to, once your senior understands the benefits, they will start to feel more comfortable relying on these tools for help.
In addition, other people who are dealing with similar issues can serve as resources. Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) chapters enable people with varying levels of hearing loss to come together – both to learn about the condition and to support one another.
You don’t have to manage hearing difficulties alone
Your senior doesn’t have to manage hearing trouble alone, nor should you as a caregiver. Providing patient, dedicated care while enabling communication strategies that work is where FirstLantic Healthcare comes in.
If your loved one is dealing with hearing loss and needs home healthcare services in Broward, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Indian River, or Martin Counties, trust South Florida’s premier provider. We have been helping seniors live better lives at home for over 17 years and would love the opportunity to provide advice and support. Contact us todayto learn how we can help you and your loved one.