What’s That You Say?

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What’s That You Say?

Compassion is a job requirement for caregivers -- and this is especially true when you are caring for someone who has trouble hearing

Compassion is a job requirement for caregivers — and this is especially true when you are caring for someone who has trouble hearing.

People who don’t hear well often feel embarrassed and alone. They have to struggle to keep up with a conversation. After a while, they may give up and start to withdraw from people, growing irritable or depressed. These effects only multiply if a patient is also limited by other conditions, like poor vision or lack of mobility.

Caregivers like you play a big role in interacting with patients and boosting social involvement. You also can make patients safer, ensuring they can hear instructions on how to take their medicines.

You are likely to be the first person to spot early signs of hearing problems or to notice that a patient’s existing hearing problems are getting worse. Be sure to take detailed notes on what you observe about a patient’s hearing and pass along your comments to the patient’s physician or the person you report to.

It takes two to communicate, so follow these few simple steps to make sure you’re connecting with patients who may have trouble hearing.

  • Start by reducing surrounding noise when possible. Don’t talk over the TV or radio. Begin your conversation after you’ve turned down the volume.
  • Move closer and talk face-to-face. Facial expressions and hand gestures add meaning to words, so make sure the listener can see you clearly. Good lighting helps, too.
  • Speak clearly and not too fast. Don’t have anything (gum, candy, food) in your mouth.
  • Make your point promptly. The longer you speak, the more taxing it is to the listener to follow along.
  • Restate your message using different words. This gives the listener another chance to “get” what you said.
  • Write out instructions. Review them, and leave the list in a visible place.
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