A 10 Minute Guide to Communicating for Seniors with Hearing Loss

, A 10 Minute Guide to Communicating for Seniors with Hearing Loss, Dr. Nicolle

It’s Wellness Wednesdays! I’ll give you a 10 minute guide to communicating to seniors with hearing loss. Hearing loss can make you feel isolated and rob you of many of life’s pleasures. It’s a real issue for seniors. According to the National Institutes of Health, one in three adults between 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and that figure rises to almost 50% for those over 75.


At the same time, there’s promising research underway, and assistive devices have made a lot of progress. Scientists may someday be able to reverse hearing loss by replacing damaged hair cells in the inner ear or prevent age-related hearing difficulties altogether with breakthrough medications.


Until that happy day, you’ll need to rely on the available technology and strategic communication skills. Start by taking a look at these tips for coping with reduced hearing.

, A 10 Minute Guide to Communicating for Seniors with Hearing Loss, Dr. Nicolle

Communicating with Hearing Loss – General Conversation Tips:

1. Face off. Ask others to face you when they’re talking. It also helps if they give you a heads up by calling out your name before they start.


2. Repeat it back. Active listening is even more important when you have hearing loss. Reiterate what you think you heard to see if you’re correct. It’s more pleasant and effective than saying “excuse me” over and over.


3. Rephrase it. Simple language helps. Shorten sentences, and break information down into bite-size chunks.


4. Stay on track. It’s easier to understand a message when you know the context. Announce the subject matter first. Stick to one topic or let your listener know if you’re switching your focus from home repair to vacation plans.


5. Resist shouting. A moderate volume and pace creates the most favorable conditions. Yelling distorts the face, and makes it harder to see nonverbal cues.


6. Write it down. Put essentials into writing. That’s especially true for names and numbers like street addresses or contact information.


7. Read lips. Lip reading is a skill you can start learning at any age by paying attention to lip shape and movement. Sign up for local classes or browse for resources online. It may take one or two years to master, but eventually you could find yourself putting on your glasses to talk.


8. Use devices. There are many options today from smart hearing aids to personal amplifiers. Try them out before buying anything.

, A 10 Minute Guide to Communicating for Seniors with Hearing Loss, Dr. Nicolle

Communicating with Hearing Loss -Tips for Specific Situations:

1. See your doctor. Bring your spouse or other loved ones with you to health care appointments. They can help you gather information while you discuss ways for your family to deal with your hearing loss.


2. Talk by phone. Hearing-aid-compatible or captioned phones can help you keep in touch with friends and family. If you’re on a tight budget, you may qualify for free equipment.


3. Visit with grandchildren. The same conversation tips apply to children, but they may have more difficulty remembering what to do. Be patient, and hold onto your sense of humor.


4. Watch movies. Theatres have been required to provide assistive devices for years, and now recent court decisions and digital technology are bringing captioned movies to more venues. Soon you’ll be able to talk about new films instead of waiting to see them at home.


5. Dine out. Loud noises can become more irritating when you have hearing loss, so you may want to ask about the sound level before making reservations. You can also choose a quiet table away from the entrance and kitchen.


Hearing helps us to communicate and stay safe. To protect your ears, minimize your exposure to loud and sustained noises. To deal with the hearing loss you’ve already developed, count on lifestyle changes and assistive devices that can maximize your senses and enhance your quality of life.

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, A 10 Minute Guide to Communicating for Seniors with Hearing Loss, Dr. Nicolle


I really wanted to talk about this topic today because your natural health and wellness is important. You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of poor health, including chronic disease, so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.


I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you lose weight, and maybe reverse some chronic diseases (if you suffer from them). In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.


Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.


Stay healthy,


Dr. Nicolle


PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.

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A 10 Minute Guide to Communicating for Seniors with Hearing Loss

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