What If a Person Can't Hear or Understand You?

Question: How do we communicate with a person who is deaf, who has a brain tumor, who is trapped inside a body from a stroke, has dementia, or is in a coma? How do we communicate with someone who we aren’t sure will understand us when we talk to them or who physically can’t respond to us?

It is hard to tell what a person understands and how they are coping with life’s situation when they can’t communicate. We depend so much on our conscious brain responses, our senses, and our verbal skills.

I suggest in situations like the above we talk as if they can communicate and understand. Talk about any and everything. About the past, about feeling afraid, that you love them, that you will help in any way you can. Whatever is in your heart you can say. Even though the person can't respond or may yell, or speak what appears to be nonsense, know on some level they hear and understand you. If this isn't true, and I certainly can't prove to you that they can hear and understand, what do you have to lose by trying to communicate in this manner? I'm thinking it is worth a try and it certainly can't hurt or make matters more difficult than they are.

Speak in a calm, quiet, loving voice. If touch is tolerated you can just hold a hand or have your hand on a part of their body. The key is for you to stay calm and loving. Often times just being there is better than words.

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