Hearing Loss

Lifestyle & Management

Strategies to Improve Communication

Let others know that you have some hearing loss and tell them what they can do to improve communication. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure you face the person directly. Ask them to speak slowly and clearly and to pronounce each word carefully.
  • Pick up cues from the context of a conversation to identify the meaning. Watch any gestures the person makes. This can also help with interpreting what they’re saying. You might also be able to use lip reading to help you communicate.
  • Ask the person to write or type the information. You might carry a pad and pen with you, or even use a touchscreen phone or tablet computer. Text messaging and e-mail can be helpful, and larger keyboards are available which can make typing easier.

Improving communication is particularly important if you are hospitalized. If you use hearing aids, make sure that you have them in the hospital. Poor hearing can contribute to delirium and confusion.  

Communicating with a Hearing-Impaired Person

Even if your hearing is fine, your friends or family may have hearing difficulties. Here are some tips for improving communication with people who have hearing difficulties:

  • Ask the person about their preferred way to communicate. 
  • Get the person’s attention before speaking.
  • Eliminate background noise and distractions as much as possible.
  • Make sure your listener can see your lips:
    • Speak face-to-face in the same room.
    • Don’t hide your lips with your hands or other objects.
    • Have the light shine directly on your face, not behind you.
  • Speak slowly and clearly, but don’t shout. Shouting makes lip movements harder to read, and can make you sound angry even when you are not.
  • Speak towards the ear that has better hearing (if the person’s hearing loss is different in each ear).
  • Rephrase your comment if the listener doesn’t understand the first time.
  • Speak in complete sentences. Single words are hard to lip-read because the listener often relies on context. 
  • If a reply doesn’t make sense, make sure that the person knows the topic of conversation.
  • Spell words out, use gestures, or write or type the information.
  • Have the listener repeat back what they heard, to avoid misunderstandings.

People with dementia may remove and throw out the hearing aid. It can be helpful to order a hearing aid with a loop attached to the case. Attach a piece of fishing line to the loop and pin the other end of the line to the person’s clothing. This prevents the aid being lost when they remove it. Nursing homes and other long-term care settings may use a system for collecting the aids each night and replacing them each morning. This may reduce the number of aids that are lost.


Last Updated June 2020