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Mom wears hearing aids (volume can be adjusted and sometimes that is the issue but not always). It seems that I must get her total attention before speaking. That's ok when I am wanting to start up a conversation. However, when I don't get her attention and just want to make a comment of some sort (about the TV program or ask a quick question) and we are in close proximity, she almost always responds with "what?". I am so tired of repeating myself that sometimes I resort to "never mind" because it's not that important. I am totally frustrated! I would appreciate positive suggestions of how to help this dance.

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I feel your pain. Both my mom and hubby, the two people I live with, have annoying poor hearing. My mom thinks it's funny that she hears all these very strange things that she thinks I say. Often, they are rhyming words.

If I hear "Oh, I thought you said (insert something ridiculous)" one more time, from either of them, I just might lose it.

Of course, neither of them wants to do anything about it. They feel that I should be the one to make changes, while they don't need to even get their hearing checked never mind consider hearing aides.

I guess it's OK for me to have to be misunderstood and repeat myself ad naseum.

Definitely the "What?" is an automatic response. I like the suggestion to just say "never mind" and put it on them just a little bit. I can probably get away with that with my mom but hubby wants to know what I said. Sometimes, he does figure it out after a moment. I find that strange. But aren't lots of things strange??
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My mom has them at her AL. They work well face to face because she now has to look at me to process the words. Not so well any longer via cell phone visits. Next may be writing as hearing gets worse but I am not so sure if she knows what she is reading.
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My late FiL and I were always very amused when his elderly FiL would demand several "say agains" for most communications but always heard "would you like a beer, grandad?" the first time!
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Okay, I just found what I was thinking of earlier today.

The device is called a Voice Amplifier and is sold on Amazon.

They are portable and teachers and public speakers use them to amplify their voice while speaking in a crowd.

They aren’t expensive. I wish I would have had one to speak at my mother.

It could have saved me from yelling to be heard. It truly is exhausting to have to scream to be heard.

It’s worth a shot. If you order one please tell us how you like it because lots of people are dealing with hard of hearing relatives and may want to order one too.

I do think it can be a habit for parents to say, ‘What or huh?’ But many elderly parents do have significant hearing loss that is frustrating for them and their caregivers.

Hope this helps some.
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My late husband was very hard of hearing and may have had a processing problem as well. What seemed to work for him was a personal amplifier as the sound was transmitted as if thru a microphone.
These cost about fifty dollars and are used a lot in nursing homes and hospitals as the expensive hearing aides often get lost.
It can also be used with a phone or tv.
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Photogal425 Jan 3, 2021
Thank you. Appreciate your thoughts.
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Before you begin to speak, make sure you have her attention and she knows you are talking with her.
Position yourself so you are face to face with her. If she is seated, you sit down and face her. Speak slowly and clearly.
Eliminate other sources of noise. TVs; Radios; etc
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I found that my father would say "HUH?" every time I spoke out of sheer habit. His hearing 'improved' when I either refused to repeat myself or just said 'never mind'....funny how he heard that but not what I said.
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Photogal425 Jan 3, 2021
Amazing huh? Glad I’m not alone!
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I just noticed that there is a related article on this website.

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/hearing-loss-communication-techniques-144762.htm
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You have gotten a lot of good suggestions.
Joann touched on this but you can try modulating your voice. If you speak from your head voice (think Queen Elizabeth) then you are more difficult to understand. Try to bring your voice from your chest.
Clear enunciation like in the movie, My Fair Lady “the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain” is helpful.
My poor FIL wore his hearing aids faithfully but they did little good. He would have the tv so loud while trying to visit that no one could hear. He would think he had it turned down. When one of his kids would ask him to please lower the sound, he would say “you can’t hear that”. He was amazed when assured that the volume was still very high. He felt the loss of hearing was the worst thing that ever happened to him.
Also echoing what others said about their saying “what” being automatic. I think so too. It’s a pause to think about what they think you said. Like some people use filler words when speaking. “you know what I mean?” over and over. Very tiresome.
My DH aunt has started turning the tv off if she can’t hear a comment. It’s sometimes comical as she knows that the comment was between DH and I, but she wants to know what we are discussing and can’t quiet hear us. We will be in the middle of the news and one of us will forget and say something about a report and off the news will go. We try to keep an extra remote handy for quicker recoveries but best not to try to watch anything important with her in the room.
It’s a challenge for sure. At the end of the day it seems one can be extra tired just from the stress of trying to communicate.
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Photogal425 Jan 3, 2021
thank you. I’ll have to try modulation. You’re so correct it is stressful. Who knew?
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My hubby has almost no hearing at all. He wears his hearing aids sporadically. Even with the hearing aids,his hearing is minimal. I have given up trying to have any meaningful conversations with him, as he just can't do it. When I need to tell him or ask him something important, I stand very close, tap his arm, tell him to look at me, then speak directly into his ear. It is very hard to not have someone to talk to throughout the day, but it is reality.
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Photogal425 Jan 3, 2021
I understand and empathize with you. By chance does he text? A lot of times texting is easier for mom & I to “talk”.
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Besides all the good advice already given please realize that in an older person it can literally take longer for the brain to process what has been heard. The listener may not be aware of that but often responds with "what" or some other conversation filler until the brain catches up. Be patient and realize that a two way conversation is going to take longer.
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JoAnn29 Jan 3, 2021
This is true.
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My sister toward her end of life from cancer, had trouble hearing the last few months and yes it was annoying to repeat myself but think how annoying it was for her to not hear and how much more annoying to have the personsay never mind instead of repeating.

A lor of people tgat are hard of hearing sort of read lips to help know what is being said.

So, you know that she's hard of hearing so look at her. Speak slowly and loud and make your sentences short.

Have patience and
Remember one day you could be that person that can't hear.

One more thought., you shoukd take your mom to the ear Dr to be checked fir ear wax. You'd be surprised how just ear wax can put a real damper on your hearing.

She could need her hearing Aides adjusted or a new pair of hearing Aides.

Prayers
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Photogal425 Jan 3, 2021
Great suggestions. Thank you.
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Both of my grandparents and some of my patients wear hearing aids. Here are a few suggestions:

Make sure to face the person. Sometimes the hearing aid can't catch sounds from behind as well as folks with unaided hearing.

Check batteries if it seems like the "what did you say" is happening a lot.

Make sure you mom wears her hearing aids whenever she is awake. The nerves for hearing need stimulation. If hearing aids are not worn, those nerves tend to deteriorate until the person does not hear at all.

Make sure ears are getting cleaned since built up ear wax interferes with hearing.

Just as folks get annual check-ups, dental check-ups, and vision check-ups - make sure that hearing and hearing aids get regular checkups as well.
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earlybird Jan 3, 2021
Taarna offers very good advice. My mom wears hearing aides and is almost deaf without them. I find sometimes I need to repeat and then I check the batteries and need to replace them. The hearing aides have a reminder to change them but my mother and I do not hear it. I put an orange sticker on the calender every two weeks and that works well.
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Posters, help me out here. Aren’t there microphones that teachers and other speakers use to speak to large groups?

It seems like I looked it on on Amazon at one time. They weren’t very expensive.

Does anyone remember what they are called? Seems like they had a certain name.
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Mother and aunt have poor hearing. I have found that eye contact is imperative before starting a conversation ( both have dementia).
Aunt wears hearing aids, mom needs but with covid has not been able to be tested and fitted for aids.
Cadence of your voice and tone is very important. If they fail to understand me I find different words to convey the same thought. This does often help and be aware of background noise like the TV, a fan or whatever.
Be patient because conversations are so important. Phone calls are difficult but with aunt putting the phone on speaker seems to help a lot.
I encourage both to call friends and check in on them.
Keep ears and hearing aids clean, use debrox for ears, replace batteries often. Ask PCP to check for wax buildup.
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97yroldmom Jan 3, 2021
Great advice.
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My mom has horrible wax buildup and her hearing aid must be cleaned every week.

My mom only has one hearing aid because her other ear cannot be helped with a hearing aid.

With my mom. it isn’t always the volume but the speed at which someone is speaking. Try speaking slower.

I discovered that my mom was reading lips as well so facing your mother may help too.

It is frustrating having to repeat. Sometimes I would write things down about certain things such as, “Coffee or tea? White bread or whole wheat? Ham or turkey?”
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Photogal425 Jan 3, 2021
Speak slower yes! She did tell me that once. Thank you
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My Mom's hearing has been getting worse, I see it in the what? Or beg pardons,

Not that ahe recognizes or admits that. With her dementia, Im not sure that trying to do hearing tests or hearing aids would go well.

She is in Memory Care now, but when she was with me alot of our conversations went
Me " Blah..."
Mom " What?"
Me " Blah.." but louder
Mom" you dont have to yell!"
Me: sigh and look at her and wait for her to answer the question
Mom: " do you need something?"
Repeat steps above......

Masks have been challenging, I think she was relying on facial cues alot; not realizing it, and it does muffle voices somewhat.

A hand on her arm to get attention. Speaking clearly and slowly. Wait to let her process, dont speak a paragraph at one time or aak multiple questions. But thats more the dementia not the hearing. They cant process much at a time. Ive had to learn to slow my speech.
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Photogal425 Jan 3, 2021
I’m still in transition of her move-in. What an adjustment! Thank you for your great suggestions.
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When my Mom got her hearing aids, the staff mentioned that people sometimes have trouble sorting through multiple sound sources.

Try signalling to her that you are about to say something so she can shift her focus to you and be ready to listen. Can you pause the TV? Maybe preface your comment with "Hey Mom I have a quick question," so that "What?" is the correct response.

They offered accessories for the hearing aids that included a device for someone else to wear that sends their voice into the hearing aid directly so that it had a better chance of standing out from competing sounds.
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JoLoBx Jan 3, 2021
Hi, I never heard of this device before, do you have any other information because I can't find anything about them online?
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Sometimes I think saying "What?" is just automatic. My mother says it constantly, and if I say never mind, she suddenly heard what it was I said to begin with.

Hearing loss is one of the most difficult things to deal with, I know. My mother refuses to get hearing aids & has had increasing hearing loss for 7 years now. Sometimes I find myself yelling to be heard, and then she'll ask why I'm yelling. Just for FUN mom, why else?

I once took her to the ENT doctor who pulled a plug of wax out of her ear the size of a quarter. Her hearing improved for about 3 months afterward. That was it. Then he prescribed Debrox to be put into her ear to dissolve the wax on a weekly basis. Not sure which was worse, in her opinion, the hearing loss or the application of the Debrox.

Sometimes, when I call her (she lives in a Memory Care ALF), she's mistakenly turned down the volume on her cordless phone & she can't hear a single word I'm saying. So I have to scream at the top of my lungs for her to TURN UP THE VOLUME ON THE PHONE. Which sometimes works, but not always.

When we go over for a window visit every Sunday, she's on a landline phone & we're on my cell phone set to speaker. She has the handset positioned at her neck instead of her ear, so she can't hear a word we're saying! We tell her about 100x to move the handset up to her ear, which she does for about 10 seconds, then moves it back down to her neck area.

The joys of hearing loss combined with dementia are endless for all concerned.

I hope you can get your mother's situation figured out. If not, wishing you the best of luck holding onto your patience.
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Photogal425 Jan 3, 2021
Thank you. And good luck to you too.
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First I would check the hearing aids. If it's over the ear type does she replace the wax filter? Or it's possible that they've reached the end of their usefulness and can't be fully recharged. If it's in the ear type, they too have a lfe expectancy. Another thought is that her hearing is degrading and the aides no longer do the job. Lastly, when you speak to her stand directly in front of her so you have her full attention and speak slowly. I hope something works better for both you and her.
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Photogal425 Jan 3, 2021
Thank you. I appreciate your thoughts.
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My husband is 74 and has been wearing aides for almost 70 yrs.

If Mom has not had her aides checked recently you may want to take her to her audiologist. If she wears an over the ear, check the tubing it may have wax in it. Her ears may have built up wax. Aides are now digital. At the time she got her aides the volume may have been adjusted for how she heard then. If her hearing has gotten worse, this needs to be adjusted. And hearing aides do not last forever especially in the ear ones.

Be aware too, that even hearing people tend to read lips when talking to each other. With a person who wears aides, it depends on where you are. My husband hears better when I am right next to him or behind him. A deep voice is heard better than a higher one. He was also told that he may hear better over the speaker on a phone than having the phone to his ear.

My husband only has 20 to 30% of his hearing even with wearing aides. When not wearing it he is deaf. Aides can only do so much. So what I am saying is Mom may not hear all that well with an aide.
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My first thought since you say that she wears hearing aids, is that she is perhaps starting to have trouble understanding the spoken word. It's called aphasia. My husband had that after having a massive stroke, and it only got worse as he got older. It can be very frustrating when you have to keep repeating yourself, but if that's what it is, she can't help it. Might want to look into that. Best wishes.
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