As promised, here are additional important tips to help you communicate with a heard of hearing person (HOH). This is the last of three articles on this topic.
? Begin every conversation by positioning yourself in front of the HOH person. This will help them relax and know that you care by the effort you're making.
? Be aware of possible emotional responses such as: embarrassment, denial, anger, withdrawal, frustration or confusion.
? If you are not being understood, ask the person what you can do differently.
? From time to time ask the person how well you are doing. They often respond with a positive comment that will make you feel appreciated for your effort.
? Write down key words or phrases and be aware the some older people can't read; they may be too embarrassed to tell you.
? Take time to include the HOH person in group situations; they feel hurt and frustrated because of missing so much.
? Don't talk to the HOH person's friend just because it is easier. Try several different ways of communicating until you find one or a combination of ways that work.
In the case of hospitalization:
? Put a notice on the hospital chart and above the patients' bed.
? The HOH person can't read lips through curtains or in the dark.
? Make chaplains, volunteer or visitors aware of the hearing impairment.
? Don't do anything unexpected from behind.
? Tap the mattress to get the patient's attention if his /her back is turned.
? Don't leave the patient in complete darkness; leave a dim light on.
? Make sure the hearing aid is within easy reach.
These are tips for com-municating with HOH persons. There are other guidelines for people who are deaf and use sign language.
The important message is to find strategies that work. You can feel proud of yourself for your efforts and the hard of hearing person will appreciate you for making the most important thing in life - communication - easier for them.
Jan Gazley RN, BScN is a nurse with over 24 years of experience including caring for people with dementia. Contact Jan at onetoonehomehealth.ca or 604-786-6165.
Wendy Thompson MA is a gerontologist, caregiver consultant and coach, published author and former Olympian. She is available for consulting and coaching at 604-275-0091.