Hearing loss is one of the most common senior health issues, with approximately 37.5 million American adults experiencing some degree of hearing loss as they age. While certain devices are revolutionizing how hearing loss is treated, there are certain communication strategies you can adopt to help your loved ones with hearing loss.
Body language matters
Often, seniors with some degree of hearing loss depend on reading lips and facial cues in conversation situations to understand. Therefore, it can be difficult for your loved one to understand you if you aren’t facing them, enunciating your words, or standing in a well-lit area. If this is the case, make sure you accommodate to your loved one’s needs and use body language to help them better understand your meaning.
Resist raising your voice
Communicating with a loved one with hearing loss can be frustrating for both parties. Some people think they need to yell to help individuals with hearing loss understand, but most audiologists disagree with this method. Instead of simply repeating yourself in an elevated tone, consider rephrasing your sentence to provide your listener with better context cues. For example, instead of repeating, “Do you want breakfast?” try something more specific like, “Do you want eggs or cereal?” These additional context cues can help your loved one better understand what you mean and avoid frustrating communication errors.
Have patience and empathy
If you find yourself becoming impatient or frustrated with your loved one, remember that hearing loss is just as frustrating for them. Older adults are sometimes embarrassed to admit when they have trouble hearing and may withdraw from others, which can lead to issues like senior isolation or even depression. Seniors with hearing impairments are also often mistakenly thought to be confused, unresponsive, or uncooperative. Exercise patience in your communication by speaking slowly and clearly and establishing accommodations that work for both parties.