Even when there are no additional problems, such as hearing loss, conversations necessitate a substantial amount of concentration, energy, and patience. When people with hearing loss or other types of hearing impairments are in a noisy environment and with companions who speak too quickly, communication can be much more challenging.
The following is a list of measures you can take to help someone with hearing loss communicate more easily, whether that person is you, a loved one, a friend, or a coworker.
Best practices when talking to a senior with impaired hearing
Hearing-impaired seniors may find that communicating in some situations is significantly easier than in others. You can improve their conversational environment by implementing the following:
- Make sure there is enough light in the room. Facial expressions, lip movement, and body language can help people with hearing loss comprehend complex sentences and improve their communication abilities.
- Choose a location with low ambient noise. Despite the fact that the ears and brain are capable of filtering out background noise in the majority of cases, seniors with hearing loss frequently have difficulty hearing over excessive noise. Be aware that enclosed places without carpets or drapes are more likely to have poor acoustics, which can distort voices.
- Make sure that everyone’s face can be seen clearly. If you’re in a group, choose a location — or a circular table if you’re eating out — where a loved one will have visual access to everyone’s faces.
How to select an appropriate location for communication
Using the aforementioned guidelines, the following strategies will help you find an ideal place to communicate with a senior who is experiencing, or is at risk of, hearing loss:
- Choose a place with appropriate lighting, no loud music, and good acoustics. For a dinner party, select a restaurant where the loved one has eaten previously and where the decibel levels aren’t too loud.
- Choose a time when there are less people around. Instead of eating dinner at 7 o’clock on Friday or Saturday, when restaurants are busiest, have a late lunch or early dinner between 3 and 5 o’clock.
- During a group function in your home, ask a hearing-impaired friend or family member to speak in a quieter room. Turn off the TV to eliminate noise.
Tips to remember when communicating with seniors who are hard of hearing
The following are some do’s and don’ts to remember when you are trying to be more inclusive to someone who is experiencing hearing loss:
- Ensure you’re not covering your mouth in any manner. Continue chatting while yawning or chewing gum is disrespectful. (This is especially important for deaf or hard-of-hearing people.)
- You should either stand or sit close to the older person with hearing loss, but not so close that they cannot shift their concentration between maintaining eye contact and reading speech.
- Make an effort to aim more of your words toward the right or left side of the senior with hearing loss, depending on which ear functions better.
- To gain the elder’s attention and start the conversation, say their name before you start talking to them. Give them a wave or a quick tap on the shoulder if they don’t hear you.
- Pay special attention to the signals given by the listener. As a result of their continual need to ask others to repeat themselves or provide clarification, hearing-impaired people may feel embarrassed or exhausted.
- If the other person appears to be perplexed, devise a tactful technique of inquiring whether they understood what you said.
- It is critical to avoid talking over one another in a group environment.
How impaired hearing affects communication skills
There will be times when communication breaks down. You can get back on course for a productive conversation with a friend, family member, or coworker by performing the following:
- Speak with a normal volume. It’s tempting to speak too loudly to someone with hearing loss, but this might lead the words to get distorted.
- If someone is having difficulty understanding, you can assist them by restating the conversation’s topic or a key word. This is particularly useful if the topic has shifted.
- Try to spell out a tough word. For individuals with hearing loss, many consonants sound the same, which can cause miscommunication. If necessary, scribble it down on a piece of paper.
- Hand gestures should be used when appropriate.
- Rephrase what you’ve just said in a new way.
- If communication breaks down, you should ask the listener what you can do to assist them in having better conversation.
The effects of impaired hearing
Most hearing-related issues can be resolved when individuals utilize hearing aids that have been adjusted to their specific needs. If you or a member of your family requires an audiological evaluation, you should consult with a hearing specialist and audiologist.
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