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Communicating with a person you are caring for who has a hearing impairment

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Looking for tools to improve communication with someone you are caring for who is dealing with hearing impairment?

L’Appui pour les proches aidants offers ten tips to improve your communication skills and strategies.

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Communicating with the person you are caring for can be a daily challenge

Is the person you are caring for hard of hearing or deaf, and are you having difficulty communicating with them? Their communication difficulties are related to their condition:

  • A deaf person has no hearing. This is called profound or total deafness. They may use Quebec sign language (LSQ) to communicate. Some activities of daily living require the presence of an interpreter (LSQ) or a person providing communication assistance;
  • A person with a hearing impairment has mild, moderate or severe hearing loss. They can communicate by speech or use a hearing aid to augment their hearing. A person with a hearing impairment, especially one who has become progressively deaf, is often able to lip-read.

In either case, communication with the person is affected. You are both experiencing emotions, tensions, and frustrations (in French only); communication breakdowns occur and sometimes increase over time. You have to deal with some grief (in French only), from the shock of the news to reconstruction, sadness, depression or denial.

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Communication health

Your challenge is to maintain or encourage what is known as communication health—our ability to speak, hear and be heard. The professionals involved in this area are speech-language pathologists, audiologists and communication health assistants.

Some CIUSSS offer accompaniment and adaptation support services for the person with a hearing impairment and those close to them.

Two things to consider:

Ten tips for communicating with a person with a hearing impairment

These tips are drawn from the communication strategies to be used by friends and family proposed by Audition Québec (in French only).

  1. Get the hearing impaired person’s attention before speaking by calling them by their name or by lightly touching them;
  2. Face the person so that they can see your face. Maintain this eye contact throughout the communication;
  3. Make sure your face is clearly visible and avoid holding your hands in front of your mouth. Facial expression is important in conveying emotions. If you and/or the other person are wearing a mask, here are some helpful strategies;
  4. Speak clearly without exaggerating articulation, avoiding speaking too fast or too loud;
  5. When in a group, take turns speaking without interrupting;
  6. Avoid speaking on behalf of the person;
  7. Use simple vocabulary and short sentences;
  8. Make sure the person with a hearing impairment understands what you are saying. If necessary, use different words or change the form of the sentence;
  9. When conveying information such as contact information, technical or medical terms, write it down;
  10. If a sign language interpreter is present, speak directly to the person.

Assess the needs of both yourself and the person you are caring for

Communication is also important between you and the assistance and support resources. The Office des personnes handicapées du Québec offers personalized assistance to persons living with a disability, their families and caregivers in their efforts to access services:

  • The service plan is defined in collaboration with you, your family, your caregivers and the counselors from the various sectors involved. It specifies your expectations and needs, and the list of necessary services and the organizations or individuals responsible for providing the services;
  • The needs of the person and your own needs in terms of information, psychosocial support, caretaking, respite care, and support with daily tasks are assessed and identified.
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Need to talk?

Contact our Caregiver Support Helpline for counselling, information and referrals.

Every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Free of charge.

call  Caregiver info :  1 855 852-7784