Everyday communication becomes more difficult for those with hearing loss and/or memory and dementia problems.

The following guidelines will facilitate ease of communication and reduce some of the frustration that families and caregivers face:

Get the person's attention before speaking to them. Say his or her name or touch an arm to bring attention to you.

Establish and maintain eye contact. Position yourself at eye level (sit across from the prospective listener rather than stand in front of him or her). Visual cues provide additional information.

Speak slowly and more clearly. Use shorter sentences and phrases instead of rambling on. You may need to repeat a word or phrase.

A quiet environment is better. Choose a quieter restaurant, or go earlier for dinner, or sit in the living room to talk rather than a noisy kitchen filled with people. Multiple voices are hard to separate.

Stay on one topic or subject at a time. Tell the listener when you're changing the subject, or if someone new joins the conversation.

If a particular word or phrase is not understood, find a different way of saying it rather than repeating it over and over.

Give the listener a chance to respond. It may take a little longer to formulate thoughts and express them.

Understand the limits of attention span and onset of fatigue. Following conversation requires mental effort and people may be less alert by late afternoon or evening.

If you're the one with hearing loss, don't be afraid to speak up and suggest some of these techniques as being helpful to you.

So, whether you're visiting someone in a hospital or care facility, talking at the coffee hour after church, celebrating grandma's 90th birthday, or accompanying your spouse on an outing, these techniques may improve ease of communication for all concerned.

Veralyn Davee is an audiologist at Hearing Aid Specialists in New Milford.