Being a caregiver to an older adult with hearing loss has its own special challenges. Not only do caregivers need to assist the senior with regular daily tasks and the management of any medical conditions, they also need to find ways to communicate effectively. Below are some tips to help caregivers to seniors with hearing loss.
Seek Help for Hearing Loss
First, if you’re not certain the older adult has hearing loss, it’s important to determine if they do. Signs that a senior doesn’t hear well include:
- Turning up the volume on the television to a level that is uncomfortable for others.
- Frequently misunderstanding what others say.
- Complaining that others are mumbling when they are not.
- Withdrawing from conversations.
If you believe the older adult has hearing loss and they have not seen a doctor about it, make an appointment for them. A hearing aid may help them to hear better and be able to live a better quality of life.
Learn How They Prefer to Communicate
Different techniques might work better for some older adults than others, so caregivers need to find out what works best for their aging relative. Some might be able to read lips a bit, so sitting facing them where they can see your face can help. Others may hear better out of one ear, so speaking on that side can be helpful.
Reduce Background Noises
Background noises, like the television or fans, can make it harder to hear. Caregivers may wish to turn off anything making noise before initiating a conversation with the older adult. This can also help them to engage with visitors, allowing them to stay involved in the topic at hand.
It can sometimes be frustrating for caregivers to have to repeat themselves multiple times, especially when they are pressed for time. Try to be patient with the senior and remember that they aren’t trying to be difficult. They do not enjoy asking you to repeat yourself any more than you do.
Remind Visitors of Best Practices
It’s okay for caregivers to remind visitors what works best for communicating with the older adult. In fact, it can be really helpful since people who don’t see the senior often may forget. It makes the visit more enjoyable for both the older adult and for the visitor.
Use Gestures and Body Language
Gestures and body language can help caregivers to get their point across. For example, if you’re trying to ask the older adult what they want for lunch, pointing at the ham or the turkey might make it easier for them than if you just asked, “Do you want turkey or ham?” Your facial expressions can also convey meaning, which is another good reason to sit where the senior can see you while you speak.
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