If you have an elder that is one of the 23 percent of folks with some degree of hearing loss, you may want to try these top ten tips when trying to communicate with them. There are many things that can frustrate an elder, but not being able to understand what someone is saying to them due to hearing loss is right at the top of the list.
1. Sit or stand within three feet and face the person
Don’t attempt to communicate between rooms.
2. Try to talk to the “good side”
Many elders have one ear that is the “good ear” while the other has a greater degree of hearing loss. Find out which ear is the “best” ear and try to speak with them from that side.
3. Always keep your hands away from your face
Having your hands in front of your face can distort your words, making them more difficult to understand.
4. Don’t eat or chew while speaking with your elder
As with hands in front of your face, talking while chewing can also distort your words.
5. Make sure your face is in the light
This helps with lip reading, which many with hearing issues become very good at over time.
6. Know that some words are more difficult to hear that other words
Even for those without hearing loss, some words are more difficult to understand. It can be very hard to distinguish between c,d,e,t and v.
Speak slowly and clearly. Running words together can make it very hard to understand what you are saying. Expressions like howzitgoing, or watchdyado taday can be tough for many with hearing loss to decipher.
When your elder doesn’t hear or understand what you’ve said, don’t continue to repeat the same thing over and over again. Try paraphrasing and they will likely understand. By continually repeating something that isn’t heard or understood, your elder’s frustration will escalate quickly.
9. When sitting in a group, seat your elder where they can see everyone
Sitting at the head of the table at dinner time is a great way to accomplish this.
10. Make sure your elder is wearing their glasses if they wear glasses
This goes back to lip reading as discussed in number 5. If they are wearing their glasses, it will make this process much easier.