The National Institute on Aging reveals a strong connection between aging and hearing loss. It is a common problem that seniors experience due to disease, noise, and genetic traits. Statistics show that one out of three aging adults aged between 65 and 74 start to experience hearing loss. Meanwhile, half of the seniors’ population aged 75 and above have difficulties in hearing.
Hearing-impaired seniors are most likely to withdraw themselves from groups of people. They fear the idea of mistakenly thought as unresponsive and unfriendly. If not treated immediately, hearing impairment can get worse. The Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research asserts that hearing loss is associated with dementia, leading to more communication difficulties between seniors and family members or caregivers. What is worse, communication barriers hinder seniors’ ability to express their feelings to other people. The struggle usually ends up aggravating behavioral problems to aging adults, such as depression, incompetence, and destructive behaviors.
Hearing Loss: Types, Causes, and Symptoms
Hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is a common problem in older adults. The National Institute on Aging categorizes hearing loss into two classifications: sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the inner ear or auditory nerves are damaged. This type of hearing loss usually results from head trauma, virus, hereditary, or benign tumors. Seniors exposed to loud noises can suffer from sensorineural hearing impairment. Meanwhile, conductive hearing loss is caused by the build-up of fluids in the middle ear, allergies, impacted earwax, and foreign objects in the ear.
Signs and symptoms include troubles hearing over the phone or face-to-face, struggles to follow conversations and difficulties in responding to talk. Seniors who eventually turn their television’s volume up might also be dealing with hearing impairments. Background noises also contribute to seniors’ inability to hear the words said to them.
Effective Ways to Communicate with Seniors with Hearing Loss
Once family members recognize the symptoms of hearing loss on their loved ones, they should act accordingly. You need to be more sensitive regarding their special needs. Although hearing impairments can be treated with operations, some types are not. Furthermore, you need to step up your skills by implementing effective ways to communicate with your senior loved ones.
Here are some of the ways you can talk with someone suffering from hearing loss:
1. Use the sense of touch to get your senior loved one’s attention.
It would be difficult for seniors suffering from hearing impairments to notice or initiate a conversation. By simply touching their hands or arms, they would be aware that you want to talk to them.
2. Face-to-face conversations.
There are troubles when trying to communicate with seniors in the distance. Make sure to face seniors appropriately, as most of the hearing-impaired seniors use lip-reading to understand your sentences clearly.
3. Use your body language and facial expressions.
Aside from reading lips, seniors watch your body language and facial expressions while talking. This process gives them a stronger engagement in the conversation as they know how to respond based on your emotions and actions.
4. Talk in a light, quiet, and well-ventilated room.
Avoid talking with seniors with background noise on, as it will affect your conversation badly.
5. Rephrase sentences as much as possible.
Make sure that your listener grasps the right idea to avoid possible misunderstandings. If possible, encourage them to point out words that they find confusing and repeat them again. To be more effective, try breaking long sentences into a shorter one. Remember, patience is a key component here.
6. Take turns when communicating.
Unlike normal people who can easily follow a conversation, seniors with hearing loss can have delays. Make sure that only one is talking at a time so that your loved one can understand the topic. Also, give seniors a chance to give their words on a particular matter. They are likely to appreciate individuals who spend time listening to their concerns.
7. Speak clearly but not too loud.
You need to raise your voice a little to help seniors understand what you are talking about. Do not shout at them. It will only lead to mishaps that can get worse over time. Be mindful not to eat or chew anything while speaking because it can confuse seniors who use the lip reading process.
8. Speak at a reasonable speed.
You may want to delay some words since seniors with hearing loss have difficulties in following a conversation. Speak gentler and slower while facing your loved one. You need to be patient, optimistic, and relaxed while talking to them.
9. Make sure seniors understood your ideas before moving to the next topic.
Keep in mind that you are talking to an individual with difficulties in hearing. Take breaks between phrases or sentences to ensure your listener comprehends the conversation.
10. Do not assume that once seniors equipped themselves with a hearing aid, their hearing returns to normal functions.
Hearing aid devices allow seniors to hear clearly, but it does not necessarily mean they will get the same effect as normal hearing.
11. Do not change the subject too often.
Remember, seniors with hearing loss have trouble identifying which is which. To cope with this problem, acquaint them with the general topic of the subject. When trying to move from one topic to the next, make sure that your listener is aware and okay with it.
12. Understand seniors.
You need to consider how seniors feel about their situation. It might be difficult for them to adjust easily because of age. Thus, you should be the one adapting to fit their needs. If seniors ask for repetitions on your sentences, take a deep breath, and start over again. You see, seniors need to be understood given their situation.
Dealing with hearing loss requires cooperation on both ends. Be sensitive enough that hearing loss among seniors varies from one person to another. Seniors have different preferences when talking to them, so do not hesitate to ask them first. Being aware of seniors’ communication means provide improvements not only in communication but also in understanding. You can also use notes or gadgets to jot down notes if a senior really has a hard time decrypting your message after trying all the tips in this article.
Join Oasis Day Center today!
Our highly trained staff caters to your social, physical, and mental needs. We employ professional staff with whom seniors can build trust and interpersonal relationships. Oasis Day Center guarantees seniors a social community that creates a positive environment and a sense of belongingness. Learn more about daycare in Brooklyn, New York, call Oasis Day Center at (718) 682-7843 or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you there!