Communication challenges

Hearing loss, cognitive impairment, disease and mental health challenges can all contribute to a breakdown in communication for older and infirm Australians.

While mishearing a doctor, nurse or carer is not uncommon for older adults or younger people with hearing loss or diminished cognition, it can lead to miscommunication of important clinical instructions that can lead to potentially serious medical or medication errors.

One study reported on the Aged Care Guide<.font> website found 43 per cent of adults aged over 60 years reported having misheard a doctor, nurse or both in a primary care or hospital settings. This can lead to misdiagnosis and potentially serious clinical mistreatments.

That study found better communication between medical practitioners and families could have prevented 36 per cent of medical errors.

However, there are things informed health practitioners and carers can do to ensure clearer communication.

Conversation starter

Have you or a loved one living independently had an experience where communication has broken down due to hearing loss? What happened? What were the consequences? Has anything been done to address this situation? Has this improved matters?

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