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Sight and hearing changes

If you suspect that you are not being heard by the person you are caring for, make sure his or her hearing is not impaired. You may need to arrange for a hearing test. A hearing aid may help for a while. Equally, make sure the person has recently had a sight test. Try to ensure that the person’s prescription for glasses is up to date and that the glasses are worn.

  • If the person hears better with one ear, warn visitors to speak clearly to that one.
  • If sight is affected, you may have to explain to whom he or she is talking, possibly more than once.
  • When talking to someone with a sight or hearing impairment, make sure you stand or sit in front of that person, where your face can be seen, and speak slowly and clearly.
  • If appropriate, you might want to touch the person lightly to draw attention to your presence. Be aware that sudden movements may be frightening.

Communication is not just about speech. We communicate in many ways. We continually send messages unconsciously, by the tone of our voice and by the way we use our bodies and our faces. We do not usually need to be told when people are annoyed or irritated, for example: we can see it on their faces or hear it in their voices.

When the person you are caring for is unable to speak or understand speech, you may still be able to understand how that person feels, by interpreting the way he or she uses the body. The person may pace around when feeling agitated, for example.

You can also use your own body language to reassure the person you are caring for. A warm touch and confident manner will reassure the person that you are there to offer comfort.