Staying healthy

9. Dealing with hearing problems

In people with dementia, poor hearing can add to feelings of confusion and isolation. If someone seems to have a hearing problem, ask the GP for a referral for a hearing test. The test and hearing aids, if needed, are free on the NHS.
If someone you know has hearing problems, the following tips may help.
  • If the person uses a hearing aid, make sure it's switched on and working properly. As dementia progresses, hearing aids can become too difficult for people to manage themselves and may simply add to the person's confusion.
  • If the person has hearing difficulties that a hearing aid can't resolve, try to attract their attention before speaking to them. Touch them on the arm to indicate where you are, make sure you're facing them and then speak slowly and clearly.
  • If the person doesn't understand you, try altering the form of words you're using rather than repeating the same phrase more loudly. Make sure there's no distracting noise, such as television, radio or loud voices. Remember to keep your questions simple, and never ask too many questions at a time as this may cause further confusion and distress.