It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Chestnuts are roasting over an open fire. The goose is getting fat. Families are decking the halls with boughs of holly.

However, your hard-of-hearing grandpa sits in the corner by himself, attempting to partake in the holiday festivities.

The problem is that he can’t hear his favorite holiday tune, the jingle-jangle of the bells or even in some cases, the screeching fire alarm when disaster strikes in the kitchen. Most importantly, he can’t hear what his loved ones are saying as they laugh and frolic around with each other.

Here are some quick communication tips to get your grandpa (or grandma) engaged:

  1. Speak slowly and loudly: It is difficult for even people without hearing loss to listen, process, and comprehend soft and rapid speech. Give your old gramps a little more of your patience and a few extra seconds of your time. In return, it will save both of you a load of frustration as he will be able to understand what you’re saying.
  2. Be next to Gramps during conversations: Elderly people depend on visual cues such as body language and lip movement to fill-in-the-blanks of what isn’t heard. Standing across the room and shouting to grandpa isn’t going to make him understand you any better, especially if he also has vision problems. Position yourself right in front of him or next to his good ear during communication so both auditory and visual cues are best delivered.
  3. Repeat what he says: By repeating what he says back to him, you’re showing your grandpa that you heard what he was saying, understood his intended message, and cared enough to clarify his main point. This will make him feel understood, secure, and more likely to initiate a conversation in the future.
  4. Don’t point out his hearing loss: Your grandpa has already felt the effects of his hearing loss and how it’s impacted his social ability to communicate with everyone. You don’t need to point this out to him. Being reminded of his hearing loss will make him feel threatened and targeted while enhancing his sense of isolation from the family.
  5. Conversation starters: Don’t know what to say? Try to focus on topics that you share in common, such as the present you bought for your mom or the funny thing your dog did the other day. By bringing up familiar topics, your grandpa’s brain will have less work to process and the bond between you is strengthened due to the commonalities you both share.

With these tips good old gramps will once again be engaged through communication, feel like part of the family, and be able to partake in the holiday festivities just like everyone else. It will be the most wonderful time of the year… for everyone!

About The Author

Tina Penman is a graduate student getting her clinical doctorate in audiology

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