14 tips for communicating with people who have hearing loss

14 tips for communicating with people who have hearing loss

Found In: Activities Articles

Age-related hearing loss in elders is a common chronic condition.
Here are some tips to help you communicate effectively with the hard-of-hearing.
This is one of many free activities.
Golden Carers has 1000s of activities and resources for senior care.

Age-related hearing loss in elders is a common chronic condition.

Studies indicate that more than a third of people over 65 have some kind of hearing impairment. Hearing loss is generally characterized by the gradual reduced ability to hear high-pitched sounds as people grow older. However there are other factors that contribute to this condition.

Related: Communication Cards for Hearing Impaired Seniors

What Can Cause Hearing Loss?

  • Aging
  • Family history
  • Excessive noise
  • Head injuries
  • Some infections can cause temporary hearing loss
  • Diseases such as diabetes, hypertension
  • Tumours, strokes
  • Certain drugs

How Hearing Loss Affects Older Adults

It is important to understand how hearing impairment affects the quality of life and mental health of people living with hearing loss.

  • People with hearing loss can find it difficult to carry on a conversation because of misunderstanding. This may result in them 'giving up' or withdrawing from social activities.
  • Social stigma can be an issue; people can be branded 'crazy' for giving inappropriate answers to questions poorly understood due to hearing impairment.
  • People with hearing loss may become suspicious, which leads to estrangement and distrust.
  • Another problem affecting someone with hearing loss is the fact that if they can't communicate properly they talk less; this may increase isolation and lead to other mental problems such as depression.

How to Support Hearing Impaired Seniors

Our role as caregivers of the elderly is to support and minimize the negative emotions; feelings of inadequacy, awkwardness and embarrassment that people with hearing loss often encounter.

For instance, don't speak on behalf of the person in front of others and avoid using an 'interpreter'. If you are having difficulty making the person understand you, rephrase the question and allow the person to answer for himself/herself.

Related: Visual Cue Cards for the Elderly who are Hearing Impaired

14 Tips For Communicating with the Elderly who have
Hearing Loss

1. Do not shout; use a normal tone of voice. Speaking loudly does not increase clarity and it may in fact cause confusion.

2. Speak clearly but without exaggeration. Speaking too slowly is patronizing.

3. While engaging in activities or games whilst visiting a client with hearing loss, sit in front of them so they can see you clearly when you talk to them. Watching your lips move as you speak may help them understand what is being said.

4. Do not speak into the client's ear.

5. Do not chew or eat while speaking to client.

6. Don't rely on hearing aids to be working perfectly. They may be low on batteries or not positioned properly.

7. Clients with poor hearing often have difficulty with consonants such as 'P', 'TH', 'S', 'F', 'T'. Take a marker and note book and write down the word you want them to understand (in large letters if they have visual problems).

8. Eliminate glare so they can see your lips moving properly.

9. Eliminate background noises. Radio, traffic noise, even fans and air conditioners can hinder understanding.

10. Use gestures and visual aids and communication cards if the client wishes.

11. Remember that if the client is ill or tired this will interfere with their understanding.

12. Wait for your client to answer questions; older people take longer to process information.

13. Observe your client's body language to sense when they have had enough.

14. Remember the aim is to promote communication and generate positive emotions.

Prepare Volunteers with Communication Advice

If you have volunteers that work with you, give them a copy of the above tips for future use.

We'd love to hear your feedback.
What do you find works well when communicating with the elderly with hearing loss?

Save time with 1000's of meaningful
activity ideas for every occasion.

Enter your email address to collect your free activities.

✓ 100% Privacy ✓ No Spam

Comments   Post a Comment

Lisa 25th May 2018 Diversional Therapist
Fantastic article. I am printing it off to add to our volunteers information.
Talita 28th May 2018
Thanks so much for your feedback Lisa!
Peter 23rd May 2018 Consultant
From Peter Kindermann, Germany

Hello Thalita,
I found Your article and the different proposals very interesting. Here a short report on my experience:
I have to look after an older women (92 years old), with whom the communication is practically impossible because she hears very, very bad. That’ s why I startet the little communication we have in a written form.
.. I write a very short sentence with an edding pencil on paper and
.. then I show it to Anna (her eyes are still very good)
... and she answers with yes, no or short sentences.
...This way I can have at least a minimum communication.

I am very happy having found this possibility to communicate with Anna, who can’t work with a hearing apparatus.
This for today.
Hoping to see you end of October in Australia
With kind regards
Uncle Peter
Talita 28th May 2018
Thank you for sharing your experience Peter! This is a wonderful idea, Anna is lucky to have you! x
No Avatar