When it comes to communicating with a senior loved one who is hearing-impaired, It can feel like a challenge sometimes. If you’re struggling to communicate well with your senior mom because of a hearing issue, there are a few things you can change to help both of you during the conversation.
1. Position Your Body So You Are Heard and Seen Best
When speaking to a person who is hearing-impaired, make sure you are in the best position to be seen and heard by that person. Before you start speaking, make sure you have your senior mom’s full attention. Face her directly; do not stand to the side or look away. Your mouth should be visible during the entire conversation. Do not talk while eating or drinking, as it will block your lips. Even if your senior mom does not hear all of your words, she can use your lips to figure out what you are saying.
2. Speak Clearly
Don’t speak slowly or exaggerate your speech. Simply speak clearly and at a regular pace. Trying to sound out words or extend them can confuse your hearing-impaired mom even more, and you even run the risk of embarrassing her by calling attention to her hearing loss. If Mom is having trouble understanding you, first repeat your words a couple of times. Often times, if a hearing-impaired person asks you to repeat something, they just want to make sure that they understood you correctly. If, after several repeats, you are still unable to help Mom understand, try rephrasing what you are saying.
3. Reduce Background Noise
Depending on the type of hearing loss that your senior mom has, different background noises can be distracting. If you are in a crowded room, guide Mom to a quieter spot where you can focus on each other better, either in the corner or in another room entirely. If you are alone in a home with your senior mom, make sure that you don’t have a television or radio turned on while you’re trying to have a conversation. Running faucets, flushing toilets, vacuums, and fans can all make a conversation more difficult for a hearing-impaired person.
4. Encourage Mom to Utilize Her Hearing Devices
There are so many reasons that your senior mom may not want to wear her hearing device. Even with all of the recent advances in hearing technology, some hearing aids are uncomfortable, and some seniors feel that a visible hearing aid gives them a certain negative stigma. To encourage your senior mom to wear her hearing device, you should first make sure that she’s wearing it correctly. Sometimes, just adjusting the position of the device and how it sits on or in Mom’s ear can make all the difference. If the device is still a problem, find out what Mom’s specific complaints about it are, and ask her doctor for recommendations for a different hearing device that will suit Mom better.
5. Be Patient
Being patient is the most important thing you can do when communicating with any hearing-impaired person. Remember that having hearing loss can be frustrating and even depressing for the person who has it, so a little patience and understanding go a long way. If you make an effort to communicate in a way that suits your senior mom best, she will feel appreciated and be more open to letting you know other ways that you can speak to her in a successful, stress-free way.