Communicating with the Hearing Impaired

Annual Aging Well Section


As you age, the steps you need to take to maintain your health change as well. By being mindful of these shifts in your health and wellness, you can readily embrace your golden years. Here, we’ve gathered the facts and consulted the experts about a variety of topics that you might encounter as you or your loved ones age, with the hope of helping you stay informed and up-to-date about aging well.


By Anna Hill


Hearing loss can have a big impact on a person’s quality of life. Here’s what you should know about the condition and communicating with those who are hearing impaired. 


Hearing Loss and Its Effects

Hearing loss grows increasingly common with age. In fact, it is one of the most common conditions that affects aging and elderly adults. Approximately 1 in 3 people between the ages of 65 and 74 experience hearing loss, and it affects almost half of those 75 and older.

Unfortunately, hearing loss can have a significant effect on people’s lives. Not only can those with impaired hearing have trouble hearing phones, doorbells, or smoke alarms, but they also experience more difficulty with social and leisure activities, such as talking with family and friends, listening to music, or watching television. Such difficulties often lead to feelings of isolation and self-consciousness, and those with good hearing might need to take a few extra steps to make sure those with hearing loss feel comfortable and included. 


Hearing Loss and Communication

Especially now, those with hearing loss might have difficulty communicating with others thanks to the need for widespread mask-wearing in public. Face masks muffle sound and take away the ability for lip-reading, so those with hearing loss face more challenges than usual. For those who can hear well, there are several strategies that can help. Here are some tips for communicating with those with impaired hearing:

Get their attention.

Make sure that they can see and hear you before you begin speaking with them. Try not to shout or yell.

Let them see your face.

This is understandably more difficult when face masks are worn, so consider wearing a mask with a clear plastic panel over the mouth so that people can read your lips.

Don’t eat while talking.

Eating and chewing while speaking can greatly hinder someone’s ability to read your lips.

Avoid crowds or excessive noise.

These situations can make it nearly impossible for someone with hearing loss to understand what you’re saying. 

For individuals with hearing loss, tools such as a tablet or caption phone can assist with hearing when a conversation is almost certain to be difficult. HS

expert opinion on communicating with people who have hearing loss

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