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I live in an independent living facility, and have difficulty communicating with some of the hearing impaired disabled residents who are accepted here. I know I'm supposed to face them when talking, and speak loudly and clearly, but that doesn't seem to be enough. This morning I tried asking a severely hearing impaired man whether he would like help with his laundry because he left the top of the top loading washer open, and kept staring into it. He didn't respond, so I called a staff member. Any advice?

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AliBoBali: Thank you for your kind comments. Yes, I have an excellent ENT, whom I see regularly. And I do wear one aide.
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Ummmm, OK lindaz, writing is good, but one small thing - no, we hard-of-hearing people do not necessarily lose **language** abilities, you're implying aphasia or dementia is somehow tied to ear and not brain function. I'll grant you that dyslexia and dysgraphia are distinct from difficulties with . production and interpretation of spoken language, and even the the extra effort to decode not only language but the sounds themselves can be taxing. But, that touches on a pet peeve of sorts - I have experienced people who assume I'm stupid or otherwise not worth the effort to communicate accurately with because I have hearing aids, but I think I process language per se just fine.
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Hi Arianne, I'm not sure I can help you...but my Dad is hearing impaired (we joke about being deaf in one ear and can't hear out of the other)...but I've found that writing to them helps...when a person is deaf or hard of hearing, they loss a lot of their ability to process language....writing is a different part of the brain...so when my Dad doesn't comprehend what I am telling him, I write it down....maybe this will help! Blessings, Lindaz.
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Llamalover ~ I didn't know whether to reply to you and risk seeming defensive about a misunderstanding, or ignore you and risk seeming rude. I'll err on the side of giving a reply, and hopefully this will clear things up.

I didn't mean to overlook the condition you have when I commented that "earwax build up is responsible for a large percentage of elderly who have hearing problems" (aka, "not everyone has hearing loss due to this reason") and "ear drops or irrigation over a few weeks to see if it helps" (aka, "one can try this to see if your version of hearing loss is related to wax build up, but it might not work because any given individual's hearing loss may not be due to wax build up.")

I hope your hearing loss is getting proper treatment and improving.
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arianne777 ~ You did say that it was another person who lived in same facility. :-) I think the biggest problem isn't that you were unclear, but that this is a site that usually asks/answers questions for caregivers, and those of us who are actively caregiving can be a scatterbrained lot due to stress (that might be an accurate description of only me, who knows). ;-)

Hopefully your comment here will keep future commenters on track and you'll get some ideas.
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AliBoBali: I only mentioned my cholesteatoma and my tympanomastoidectomy because you seemed rather sure that all ear problems involved just ear wax. They most certainly do not.
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Thank you all for responding to my question about communicating with someone with hearing loss. You have posted excellent suggestions for communicating with someone with hearing loss who is a family member or someone you are caring for. I think I didn't make it clear that I referred to people who live in the same independent living facility where I live, and share the same dining and laundry facilities.
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Does he also have dementia? My mother was profoundly deaf and with moderate dementia. Although she had very good hearing aids and claimed she could hear us, we often could tell she didn't know what we said. I think part of the problem with comprehension along with deafness.
I noticed the more complicated or longer the sentences, the less she was able to follow what we said to her. She needed time to process shorter sentences and more simple concepts.
You might try looking directly at him and speaking slowly, enunciating each word and keep it simple.
Toward the end we found it was more effective to use a hand held erasable white board and communicate in short words and one sentence at a time, wait for her to respond, then add another sentence.
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BIG letters if you write it down.
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Anywho, they also make vibrating pads that will shake them awake in bed. And I may have posted before - but instead of yelling do the cheerleader voice thing - big deep breaths, loud, low pitched with a smile.
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ale423.....please attach article. I would love to read it.
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All very helpful answers in helping to communicate with a hearing impaired person but I'll take a different spin on answering this question. Communicating verbally can be difficult but it seems like you're trying to not only communicate with these other residents but also connect with them. If that's the case, there are many other ways that you can look to achieve this. Below is an article that is very helpful, with a list of different activities you can do with hearing impaired people.
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We have tried the headset for the television - it did not work out so well. The thing with the smoke detectors is that he has to be awake and looking at it. Our floor plan is as with many older homes and it's not an open floor, lots of walls. I have been looking at the catalogs and what options are available. I also checked with a school for the deaf to see what security systems they used and I was told they used no alarm as it was not heard by the students. My husband is using the close caption for the television which does help as he ran it excessively loud. I am still thinking over making some flash cards so at least he could use them with others if he had to go into any temporary care. At least he would have a way to better communicate with others. Talking louder is often of no help and often he takes it as yelling - which in a way it is - it is very hard to talk loudly with a friendly-sweet tone of voice .... yelling by it's nature is just more aggressive sounding. Thanks for the reply!
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My only point was why not try writing things as a first step. Seems logical enough.

I understand there are countless ways that elderly experience impairments as their senses wane.

I'm not sure why I would want to know about a cholesteatoma or a tympanomastoidectomy.

I was relating how removing earwax buildup in my 103 yr old grandmother's and 78 yr old father's ears led to significant hearing improvement for both of them. It was their doctors/nurses who told me that my experience wasn't unusual, that the removal of wax drastically improves the majority of hearing-loss cases they see.

Have a good night. :-)
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AliBoBali: You could attempt to write it down. Here's the thing-
Most elders have hearing loss, vision loss and olfactory loss. And hearing deficits are not just about wax.
Ask me about a cholesteatoma and a tympanomastoidectomy.
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What if they don't have macular degeneration?

Writing something down seems a logical first step to communicating with someone who is hard of hearing. If they then can't read what is written due to poor eyesight then move on to other types of communication, but why not try it first?

The consensus among my grandmother's and father's docs - both who were hard of hearing but my father isn't any longer - is that earwax build up is responsible for a large percentage of elderly who have hearing problems.

Both of them had improved hearing after I did a home regimen to remove the earwax. With my dad, an ENT nurse did the removal and sent him home with some drops.

This may not be possible to do to the residents in the facility. Maybe you can suggest this to a family member of those residents who are most affected. All it takes is ear drops or irrigation over a few weeks to see if it helps.
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I don't agree with writing it down
What if the elder has macular degeneration?
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I did not read all the answers but if my dad doesn't have hearing aids in and he can't guess what I am saying, i take my phone out, open a blank text and type what I want to tell him. Then I had him my phone. I have found this lowers my level of frustration.
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There are also smoke detectors with lights instead / in addition to sounds. And special headphones for the TV so everyone else can be at regular volume. Helps to not have to yell over the TV
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vstefans - I like the button idea! My husband has two hearing aids from the VA, they are good quality yet he has lost the hearing in one ear completely and the hearing aid is suppose to help give a the dual hearing sound. They really don't do that well and he has little hearing in the other ear left, it has continue to get less each as time passes. He uses the hearing aid as without it he hears nothing - can't hear the phone or smoke alarm, etc. We checked into security systems for the deaf and they don't really make them. I know that if we can go out to a restaurant or other activity it has to be during an odd time as all of the accumulative noises make it so even a simple conversation is impossible. I am still trying to get him to repeat he hears so that I know what he is missing. He does not like doing this and in public it isn't always convenient or possible. I have seen they now have pocket size translators and I wish they would create that for the deaf public. Recently we have had to do some remodeling of our home due to some storm damage and I have had to take over what would have been his role with the contractors because his hearing is not fluid enough to catch all the details. I relay to my husband what is going on so I can get his input yet I think he is frustrated he can't step forward as he once did. Maybe some day the docs will figure out what causes his hearing disease and have a better fix or cure for it. Here's hoping things get better for those dealing with deafness later in life.
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I would add that some people have the wrong hearing aids - either because their needs changed or because an audiologist would not listen and missed some specific need or problem they had and selected the wrong thing.

And also - if the hearing impaired person repeats back what they think you said, it can be helpful, but USUALLY you should repeat the words they did NOT get, not start over louder from the beginning repeating the whole sentence and maybe not saying the words in question any differently at all, or maybe write down just those words. Plus never ever try to tell them it does not matter and refuse to repeat or clarify. They know darn well that it mattered enough for you to try to say it and do not want to be isolated, discounted, or devalued. When I fail to get what someone is trying to say, I always indicate that I will have to get someone to interpret and apologetically frame it as my problem. My hearing aids are not very conspicuous, so I sometimes pull one out and SHOW them as well as tell them my hearing is an actual problem. People still blame and judge sometimes on both sides of the fence, I wish everyone understood!

L, you and I need some buttons that say "I'm not ignoring you, I'm just deaf!"
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arianne777: Let me give my take on dealing with an elder with hearing loss---
#1 Some have aides that they can't adapt to because of their ages
#2 Most (but some do) will not know ASL (American Sign Language)
#3 Boost up the volume when speaking to these people
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Thanks, all of you for your input on helping to communicate with a hearing impaired person. I will start following your suggestions within the scope of my relationship with these people. I live in an independent living facility where I interact with several hearing impaired people on a casual basis, like being in a situation where I can be heard when I ask, "may I help you?"
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arianne777: I think you should have reworded your question.
Your question focused on hearing loss for the general population. By asking "how do I communicate with a hearing impaired individual?"-your questions are going to be #1 make sure their aide (s) are worn/batteries functional, #2 is the person facing you and #3 does the person know ASL?
The elderly person is an entirely different story when it comes to hearing loss.
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All great posts. I was also going to add a dry erase board and to always make sure you have their full attention and they know you are speaking to them. My dad is very hard of hearing even with his top of the line hearing aids. IF he looks at me and I speak slowly he understands me. I always speak slowly with all elderly. I find myself doing that even when I go out with my friends and they probably think I have a problem but I'm with my dad 4 times a week and it's just a habit. :) Anyway, that's so sweet of you trying to help and I hope you continue. Hearing impaired already feel like they are missing out on a lot and I always try to remember that when dealing with them. I will be there someday and hope someone tries that hard with me. Good Luck and God Bless
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My dad ( with whom I live) is very hard of hearing and uses a hearing aid. He should be using 2! What I have noticed is that he doesn't hear well and often (ok...mostly) assumes the worst of what ever you are saying. I've written down things for him and even though he doesn't have any dementia, he doesn't always understand the point you are trying to make. If a person is hard of hearing, and often resistant to wearing their hearing aid, their brain slowly forgets HOW to process the information they are getting in. So if you can get them wearing 'good' hearing aids it can take up to 3 months before their brain starts to process the information properly. Of course, if they're like my dad (who often goes without his aid) it will take much longer. Blessings to all of you! Lindaz
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I wish we had learned some simple signing when he was younger, yet the hearing disease happened later and quite honestly both of us have issues with our memories. Also he was not told that it would be as damaging as it became. I looked into college classes yet they are a more complex learning of the signing - not just the basics. My husband wants understanding of his loss of hearing yet does not want to learn new skills. I agree that basic phrases like, "where does it hurt" are critical. I wish there was a course offered somewhere that would help people understand better the impairments that come with age or illness, between the visual/hearing/memory/mobility issues we are not well prepared either as the patient or the care taker. As young parents we can take classes for childbirth & parenting yet nothing prepares us for what aging and illness does. I think there should be something to aide us into the adaptation of these things. I wish when my husband was first diagnosed with the disease that he was counseled to start learning signing "NOW". Maybe he would be less resistant. I will have to check and see if there is a "Dummies" for signing book ... that series of books covers so many areas of interest so perhaps they have one. If so I'll encourage him to read it and try to learn some of the phrases. Thanks for the input. I appreciate it.
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Anny, my mom was deaf all my life, but was a champion lip reader. Since 2008, she has lost her vision and is now legally blind. She had a major stroke in 2013. Since you are still able to communicate with your husband, I really advise teaching him basic signs. Specifically, I wish I could say to my mom: Where does it hurt? How much does it hurt? What is making you uncomfortable? What do you want? We are home/at the hospital/at the store/etc. Also, Anny, make sure you have signs for the name of every family member. I hope this is helpful. I wish someone had suggested I do this with my mom...
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My husband is deaf due to a hearing disease and it's always iffy what and if hears he what I or anyone else says. And it's not just speaking loudly as some say to do, he does not hear the higher pitch tones in women & children's voices. He has two hearing aids which only modestly help, eventually all of his hearing will be gone. I have tried with limited success to teach him hand gestures to enhance what I am saying. He is not very good and at first was unwilling to learn "Charades" as he called the gestures. I am having some success with a product that was referred to me, it's called a Boogie Board. It is much like the Magic Slate pads that were around as a child. It's a digital device where you may write or draw your message using a stylus and then another can read it, with a press of a button the message is deleted. The company makes a variety of models with varying sizes and functions. I have a pocket size one for my husband when we are out shopping, it has a limited lifetime. And then for larger writing/drawing I have a tablet size one that is rechargeable. The company makes large ones that could be mounted on the wall. And that model comes with additional display and memory features. It would be good as message board. The biggest drawback that I would think this product may have is that if one had a strong vision impairment it may not work well for them. I did not know previously about the product and was very happy to finally have something that was quick and easy to use in my conversations with my husband. I don't know if this product would work for you. It's worth considering. And a lot shorter than explaining again my question to my husband .... and less arguments and frustration for both of us. I still worry about his hearing problems if he ever had to go into any kind of care, even temporary .... as I said ... speaking louder is not so effective. And even with health care people knowing he is deaf they won't take the time to write something down so he knows what is going on. He is often very frustrated and his interaction is "fogged" because he simply did not hear enough to be able to give a apt response to something. He answers to what he thought he heard and not what was really said. Mentally he is there it's only his hearing disease that makes problems. I don't know what I would do if he had a stroke or dementia to also deal with. I hope my reply may help in some way.
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The problem with elderly and hearing is they don't like their hearing aides. They also lost their hearing later in life and don't read lips, unlike my husband who has been hearing impaired as a young child. Another thing is Dementia. As they decline it takes them longer and longer to process what is being said.
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