I think most of us can agree that many of our elderly family members are hard of hearing, or are certainly headed in that direction. It can be part of aging, so it’s nothing that should cause panic, but it’s an issue that can certainly be addressed with a doctor if you and your family member find it necessary or perhaps think there is more to the issue. Even with all of the equipment and assistance that is provided to our elders now to assist them with their hearing, I’ve found some ways that we can help them hear better as well- without all of that technology.
Here are some simple tips for making communication more clear with your loved one whose hearing may be less than perfect:
Increase lighting in the room so that your loved one can see your mouth better to assist them in making out your words
Make sure you are facing the senior so that they get a full view of your face and mouth
Slow down your speech and make sure not to speak in run on sentences. Take longer pauses between sentences to make sure you have been understood
Avoid shouting or talking suuuuuuuper sllooooowwwly and exaggerating mouth movements. This will confuse your loved one as much as rapid talking will!
Find out if one ear is better than the other when it comes to listening. Then use that information to try to speak more into the ear that will hear what you are saying best
Speak less with your hands and keep your hands away from your face. Talking, chewing gum, eating food, etc, all makes reading your lips that much more difficult
Remember that your loved one will have an even HARDER time hearing you when they are tired or aren’t feeling well. Understand this and write down important information to make sure that the senior will not only receive the information, but retain it as well.
This seems like a no brainer, but get rid of background noise. Turn off the radio, TV, or move to a quiet room. Other people’s voices are a big distraction and make hearing what you say that much more difficult for them.
I hope that these ideas are helpful for you as you continue to communicate with your loved one who is suffering from some hearing loss. Try not to get frustrated with talking, and instead get creative with the ways you are communicating and minimize distractions. Put yourself in the seniors’ shoes and see if you can figure out why it is so difficult for them to read your lips or understand what you are saying.
As a related side note: check out aarp.org’s bulletin for “Paying for Your Hearing Aid.” This is a great article with ways to assist in paying for hearing aids for seniors. Perhaps you’re waiting on purchasing hearing aids for your loved senior for financial reasons. If that’s the case, or you are just interested in finding ways to save money on expensive hearing aids, check out the article above.