Caring for an Elderly Loved One with Hearing Loss: 5 Top Tips

Providing care for an elderly loved one can be incredibly fulfilling, but it can also be rather challenging at times. Whether the person you’re caring for is sick, no longer mobile, or has a cognitive disorder, each situation is unique and comes with its own set of challenges. Caring for someone who is deaf or is experiencing hearing loss can add an extra layer of difficulty to your role. In this article, we share some tips on how you can better manage some of these difficulties on your caregiving journey.

  1. Accessible Communication Styles

The world can be an isolating place when you’re ageing, and for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, feelings of loneliness can be exacerbated. It can also be quite daunting and frustrating to navigate a world in which hearing people are the majority. But by ensuring more accessibility, you can help your loved one to feel more included and improve communication between you in order to provide the best care possible.

Accessible communication will differ between individuals but some suggestions of what to consider when conversating with your loved one include:

  • Take note of the lighting – is it possible for them to lip read or is the room too dark?
  • Stand face to face
  • Avoid background noise
  • Use normal lip movements – enunciate clearly to a lip reader but avoid shouting or exaggerating your lip movements too much
  • Use gestures and body language
  • Ask how you can improve – being a great listener is already likely a big part of your caregiving role! And by asking how you can improve your communication, you can help improve further conversations.
  1. Provide Assistive Listening Devices

As well as improving how you directly communicate with each other, assistive listening devices can also be a useful tool in helping your elderly loved one. These devices are anything that is not a hearing aid or implant but can help to improve communication with the wider world, such as:

  • Amplified telephones
  • Hearing loops (also known as an audio induction loop)
  • FM systems
  • Alerting devices such as an extra-loud alarm or vibrating pad that sits under their pillow.

You might find it useful to have a conversation with who you’re caring for about what could help them feel more independent during the times you’re not with them.

  1. Patience is Key

Patience is an amazing quality many caregivers already possess but when you’re communicating in a way that’s different to how you might normally, patience can become even more pivotal.

You may find it helpful to pay more attention to how you’re feeling. This might be noting down that you’re frustrated by X, Y, or Z and that you need ten minutes to step away from your loved one. By understanding what your triggers are, you could find it easier to regulate or to avoid these things happening in the future.

  1. Advocate for Them in Group Settings

To avoid coming across as patronising because of their age or hearing loss, a conversation with your loved one beforehand is often the best place to start in communicating how they would like to approach each individual situation.

However, when you’re in a group setting, continuing to advocate for your loved one can help them to build confidence. This could simply be making sure that it is easy for them to see everyone’s faces, or continuing to ensure the background noise and lighting remains as they prefer. You might also want to remind everyone to avoid speaking over each other.

  1. Stay Informed

While you may never fully comprehend what it is to experience hearing loss, staying in the know of any advancements or news that may be of relevance, can help you to gain better insight into their world. This might include staying informed on what is happening in the deaf community or any technological advancements. This also means staying in conversation with your loved one’s GP and other specialists like their otolaryngologist if they have one.

If you ever feel as though you would benefit from some extra support in your journey, you can find information about counselling for carers at the Carers Trust site.

You can also always use our Speak to an Expert service, where our highly trained coaches are happy to help.