Approximately 40 to 50 percent of people 75 and older have a hearing loss. Trying to understand conversation can be frustrating and exhausting for these seniors. Here’s 10 tips to help you improve communication with a senior who has a hearing loss.
1. Don’t shout - Shouting makes speech more difficult to understand for a senior with a hearing loss. Speak clearly (avoid mumbling your words) and talk at a moderate speed.
2. Reduce background noise - Turn off the radio and TV and close the windows if there is loud noise outside. When in restaurants or at social gatherings, select seats in quieter areas.
3. Get attention first – Get the senior’s attention before speaking.
4. Talk face to face – Face and look directly at the senior, speak at eye level and sit close enough so the senior can hear you. Do not talk when behind an older adult or when in another room and do not turn your face away when speaking.
5. Don’t cover your mouth – Avoid hiding your mouth with your hands or objects and avoid eating snacks, chewing gum or smoking while talking.
6. Enhance your speech – Use facial expressions, hand gestures and visual aids to illustrate your message.
7. Direct conversation to their “good” ear - If a senior has better hearing in one ear, direct your conversation to their better ear.
8. Give time to respond – It may take a senior longer to absorb and understand what you have said. Allow for longer pauses between sentences.
9. Try rewording a message – Don’t repeat the same words if they are not understood. Try a different choice of words.
10. Proper lighting – Make sure your face is well lit and the light is not in the senior’s eyes. If the room is dark, move to another area with better lighting.
Posted in Caregiver tips