Hearing Impairment and Caregiving

Some suggestions for helping a loved one who has a hearing impairment.

If you care for a loved one who has hearing loss there are several important communication tips that you should keep in mind.

  • Face the person and speak clearly
  • Stand where there is good lighting
  • Hold conversations in areas where there is little background noise
  • Do not talk too fast or too slow
  • Do not hide your mouth, eat, or chew gum while talking
  • Use facial expressions and gestures while you talk
  • Reword your statement if it isn’t understood the first time
  • Be patient; stay positive
  • Ask how you may help your loved one convey his or her message
  • Don’t talk about your loved one as if he or she isn’t in the room. Make sure to include him or her in the conversation.

Depending on the type and extent of hearing loss, there are many different treatments available. For more severe impairments, surgery may be suggested. In contrast, many individuals wear hearing aids for less severe impairments. While such treatments will improve hearing, they won’t cure the problem completely. For example, because some hearing aids magnify noise to improve hearing, the individual wearing the aid may have difficulty hearing conversations when there is background noise because this is also magnified.

Regardless of treatment, individuals with a hearing impairment often feel self-conscious for a variety of reasons. If you loved one wears a hearing aid, for example, he or she may worry that others notice the device and treat him or her differently because of it. Help your loved one to feel less self-conscious by recognizing how important these devices are to his or her standard of living. Encourage your loved one to wear his or her hearing aids regularly and facilitate this process by choosing activities that allow you to limit background noise. In this way, you can help your loved one adjust to his or her situation while improving quality of life and easing difficulties in communication for both of you.

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