Tips for Communicating with Hard of Hearing Older Adults

Hard of Hearing

One in three people 60+, two-thirds of people 70+ and 15% of Baby Boomers have hearing loss. Most Older Adults experience many losses as they get older. They strive to stay in control of themselves and their environment. Even if communicating with a loved one is frustrating and complicated, the Geriatric Care Managers at Careplan reminds you to do your best to keep the Older Adult involved in conversations and decisions they are able to participate in. This is one of the better non pharmacological interventions to promote a positive psycho-social well being. Here’s some advice:

8 Tips to Consider
When communicating with an older adult that is hard of hearing there are a number of courtesies that should be considered. Here are several you might consider trying next time your in conversation with an older adult.
  1. Touch the individual to ensure that you have his or her attention before you begin speaking with them.
  2. Make sure the older adult is facing you when you speak to them.
  3. Do not have chewing gum, smoke or any object in front of your mouth. Some older adults use a combination of hearing and reading your facial expression and lips to put together what is being said.
  4. If the individual can not understand what you are saying, try rephrasing the sentence. Certain letters are harder to hear than others.
  5. If rephrasing does not help, write down what it is you are saying.
  6. A family member may need to attend your loved one’s medical appointments. An extra set of ears will allow for the information to be communicated correctly. A Geriatric Care Manager is a great resource to attend medical appointments when an adult child can not be there.
  7. Make certain the environment where there is lots of competing noise or distracting activities.
  8. Ensure if the Older Adult has hearing aids or adaptive equipment that they are in, clean and that the batteries are fresh.

Sensory losses such as hearing loss often go undetected. Families as well as social workers, nurses, and doctors must encourage older adults to be tested regularly. Testing can help to avoid isolation, balance issues, and paranoia. These are frequently misunderstood and labeled as demented.

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