The last few times you’ve gone over to your elderly mother’s house to lend a hand she’s had the television volume blaring. You’ve also noticed lately that her favorite response to any of your questions has become “what?!”. Now that it’s apparent mom has some hearing loss, you’re worried that this newfound communication barrier will interfere with your ability to provide the nurturing care she deserves. What should you do? Fortunately, there are several effective ways to communicate with a senior who’s struggling with hearing loss, starting with these 5.

Why is Mom’s Hearing Bad?

In addition to the aging process itself, there may be other reasons why mom has suffered some temporary or permanent hearing loss, such as:

  • Family history
  • Excessive noise
  • A head injury
  • Certain bacterial or viral infections
  • Diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure
  • A stroke
  • Certain medications
  • Tumors

How Does Hearing Loss Affect Seniors?

Because hearing is one of our most important senses, not being able to enjoy the sounds of the world around them can negatively affect a senior’s health and wellbeing in these ways:

  • Not staying active enough
  • Making it unsafe for them to drive
  • Social isolation leading to feelings of loneliness and depression
  • Feeling suspicious or distrustful of others
  • Missing out on important information, like instructions at a doctor’s appointment

Because you love your mother and don’t want her to feel like she’s cut off from you, here are 5 communication steps you can take to keep your relationship positive and strong:

1. Eliminate Background Noise

Avoid shouting at mom because that will just put her on the defensive. If you’re in her home, eliminate background noise by muting the volume on the television, turning off the window air conditioner or closing open windows. If it’s a public place, like a park or store, escort mom to a quiet area away from traffic noise and loud conversations. Never speak directly into mom’s ear either, and don’t chew food or gum while talking to her.

2. Speak Slowly and Clearly

Sit in front of mom while speaking slowly and clearly without exaggerating your words. However, speaking too slowly will come across as being patronizing, while watching your lips move as you speak may help her understand what you’re trying to say. Eliminating glare in the room or adding some better lighting when it’s dark will also help her read your lips more easily.

3. Use Visual Aids

If mom is receptive to the idea, try using hand gestures and maybe some communication cards to get your point across. Seniors with hearing loss have the most trouble with consonants like ‘T’, ‘F’, ‘S’ and ‘P’. An easy solution is to use a marker to write down on a large notepad a word that mom is having trouble understanding.

4. Read Her Body Language

It’s easy for a senior with hearing loss,