What Causes Hearing Loss: Tips for Communicating with Seniors

Hearing loss can make even the simplest conversations difficult and frustrating. It’s also a very common challenge for millions of Americans: An estimated 1 in 8 people in the U.S. has hearing loss, and among seniors, that number increases to 25 percent of those ages 65 to 74. Half of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss.

But how do you communicate with a senior who is hard of hearing? How do you make sure your grandparents or parents understand your conversation? And what causes hearing loss?

At Brook Stone, we know that hearing problems affect a large percentage of our residents, and that’s why we wanted to share these useful tips for communicating with those who have hearing loss. We’ll also take a look at the different types of hearing loss and what causes them.

How Do You Communicate with a Person Who is Hard of Hearing?

We’ve compiled a list of 7 hearing loss tips, and things to consider when speaking with someone who has a hearing loss.

1. Do not merely talk louder—use gestures instead

Talking louder or shouting often does not make things clearer and only leads to exasperation. Try speaking clearly and distinctly instead. In addition, try to use gestures if you’re having a hard time getting your point across. It may also help to provide the hard-of-hearing person information on what topic will be discussed so they can frame the conversation in context.

2. Face the person when you speak to them

Facial expressions can go a long way toward helping others understand you. Even if your hard-of-hearing loved one can’t “read lips,” often just seeing your mouth helps them comprehend what is being said. Make sure you’re in good light whenever possible so your face can be seen easily and clearly.

3. Do not speak from another room

Not being able to see each other greatly hinders communication, so be sure you’re in the same room.

4. Eliminate background noise

Make sure the environment is also free from distractions such as a noisy television. This also means avoiding places such as loud restaurants or coffee shops when you want to have a discussion.

5. Try a different way of saying something

If someone who has difficulty hearing cannot understand what you’re saying, find another way to say it. This is often more effective than merely repeating the same thing over and over.

6. Avoid complex sentences

You’ll find that communication is much more effective if you use shorter sentences and pause between each one of them. You should also wait until you’re sure you’ve been understood before moving on to another topic.

7. Sometimes it helps to put things in writing

If you’re providing very specific information—such as phone numbers, addresses, or work assignments—it is a good idea to write them down because many words and numbers sound alike. If you don’t have anything to write with or if you’re unable to text the information to them, make sure that they are able to repeat the information back to you to ensure understanding.

What Causes Hearing Loss?

There is no one cause of hearing loss; it’s often due to a number of factors. We’ll explore what causes hearing loss by examining the following items. These include:


In a part of your ear called the cochlea, there are tiny hairs that send sound messages to the brain. As you age, these hairs become damaged or missing.

Consistent Exposure to Loud Noise

This can also destroy the tiny sensor hairs in your ear. Sounds above 85 decibels are likely to damage your hearing. For comparison, normal conversation typically clocks in around 60 decibels.

Ear Damage

Any problems or structural defects to the delicate parts of your inner ear can make it difficult for electrical signals to get through.

Earwax Buildup

If earwax builds up to the point it blocks the ear canal, it can impair your hearing.

Ear Infections

If you have chronic ear infections, they can cause hearing loss. Be sure to speak with an ear, nose and throat doctor to seek relief.

Ruptured Eardrum

If your eardrum ruptures–either from sudden changes in pressure, loud noises or injury—your hearing can be affected.

What Causes Hearing Loss: What is Conductive Hearing Loss?

This type of hearing loss occurs when there’s a problem with your outer and middle ear. If sounds cannot get through them, the result is difficulty deciphering sounds. Typically, this kind of hearing loss can be fixed through medication or surgery.

What Causes Conductive Hearing Loss?

Common causes of conductive hearing loss are:

  • Fluid in the ear
  • Ear infections
  • Eustachian tube dysfunction
  • Tumors that block your outer or middle ear
  • Structural problems with your ear
  • A hole in your eardrum

What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

This type of hearing loss is permanent and occurs after there has been some damage to your inner ear. It’s also the most common type of hearing loss. While it can’t be reversed, hearing aids can provide assistance.

What Are the Causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

  • Genetics—hearing loss tends to run in families
  • Aging
  • Illnesses
  • Certain medications
  • Concussions
  • Issues with the structure of the inner ear
  • Listening to explosions or loud noises

At Brook Stone, We Understand What Causes Hearing Loss and We Help You Communicate

Hearing loss affects millions of seniors, and we’re aware that most of our residents face the challenge of some type of hearing issue. That’s why we’re well-versed at communicating effectively and, more importantly, listening to their needs. We’ll even be glad to show you some more tips for speaking with your grandparents or parents if they have hearing loss.

As a family owned and operated senior living facility in Pollocksville, NC, we appreciate our community and stand by our dedication to excellence. See why our residents love living at Brook Stone. Contact us for a tour. Schedule one today because our spaces fill quickly.