Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Tips for Communicating With the Hard of Hearing


By Greta Nelson RN, Good Samaritan Society Services@Home

Chances are that somewhere in your lifetime, you are going to come across the challenge of communicating with someone who is hard of hearing. Some of us will be faced with the reality that someone we love is gradually losing their senses, and we need to take a different approach for clear and effective communication. The risk for hearing loss increases with age, and over half of all seniors 85 and older have some degree of hearing loss.

First, let’s look at some of the signs that may signal that someone may be losing their sense of hearing. Have you noticed the T.V. turned up louder than usual? Or maybe the person you are talking to is consistently asking you to repeat yourself, or maybe they are telling you that you are mumbling when clearly you are not. They might stare at your lips while you are talking, or you might even notice some social withdrawal. It is sometimes easier for people who are experiencing hearing loss to avoid certain social situations, rather than to feel the embarrassment of not being able to follow and participate in normal conversations. It is important to remember that hearing loss does not mean intelligence loss.

So what can you do to make sure that your messages are being received? Patience is key. Give the person you are talking to plenty of time to make sense of your communication, and give them proper time to respond, without interrupting. If you want to make sure they understood something you said, ask them to repeat it back to you. Do not shout, although the person may be able to hear you, they will not be able to understand what you are saying; shouting tends to distort your words. Make sure you are facing the person you are talking to and make eye contact, using clear, concise word choices and avoid having conversations in noisy places. If the hearing impaired person has difficulty understanding a particular phrase or word, try to rephrase the sentence as opposed to repeating the same thing over again. If available, grab a notepad and a pen or pencil. Writing is an exceptional way to facilitate communication.

If you believe that someone you are close to is experiencing hearing loss, do not hesitate to contact or have them contact their physician, as there are many options to help them regain some of their sense of hearing.

Good Samaritan Society – Services@Home provides care such as housekeeping, medication reminders, preparing meals, grocery shopping, and assisting with other cares to assist people to remain independent at home. To learn more about Good Samaritan Society – Services@Home, please call 563-359-4444 or visit our website at www.good-sam.com/quadcityhome.