Effective communication can be difficult when working with individuals with dementia and hearing loss. Given the high prevalence of both dementia and hearing loss among individuals in long term care, direct care providers in this setting, will almost certainly confront frequent communication challenges. To understand health care aide perspectives of caring for residents with dementia and hearing loss, 12 health care aides from five nursing homes participated in audio-recorded, semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were coded and themes were identified. Health care aides reported the difficulties in distinguishing the relative contributions of hearing loss and dementia to communication breakdowns. They reported that familiarity with residents helped them differentiate between sensory versus cognitive impairments in conversations with residents. Although able to identify strategies to support communication, communication difficulty complicated both their provision of care and support of quality of life for residents with dementia and hearing loss. Suggestions for practice and education are provided.
Keywords: Cognitive-communication; Communication; Dementia; Excess disability; Health care aides; Hearing loss; Nursing home; Quality of life.
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