Practical Tips for Caregivers: Listen up and quit shouting

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Fully one third of adults over 65 and about half of those over 85 have significant hearing loss. And you know that aging boomers—we lovers of rock n’ roll—will only swell those statistics.

This can be irritating both for the person who can no longer hear so well (imagine the isolation) and for you, as you try vainly to get your point across.  The natural response is to say it a little louder—and in no time at all you are yelling at the top of your lungs. Not surprisingly, you now feel mad, too. Soon, everyone is storming off in a huff.

This is no way to live. Plus, shouting is kind of insulting, when you think about it, and actually makes enunciation harder to understand. Instead:

  • Improve the odds of getting your message across by delivering it face-to-face, rather than from across the room or, worse, from down the hall.
  • Turn off the TV or radio to eliminate background noise; even the low hum of the dishwasher or a leaf blower outside can muffle your words.
  • Rephrase, rephrase, rephrase. If you are saying, “coat” and they are hearing “goat,” your loved one’s brain starts busily trying to figure out why there is a goat in the living room and how you’ll get rid of it and the conversation goes nowhere. Instead try substituting “jacket,” “mackintosh,” “fleece,” “parka,” until you get the point across.

This last one is important—and you can use it anywhere, anytime.  Best of all, it’s kind of fun for you too. How many ways can you find to say, “Let’s go shopping!”