I Can’t Hear You! Speak Up

My husband is extremely hard of hearing. His hearing aids help but he still has difficulty with background noise and following multiple conversations. "What?" and "I can’t hear you" are frequent responses.

I must admit that I will sometimes talk to him from another room or forget to face him when I speak. I grew up in New Jersey and lived on Long Island for years. I do tend to talk fast and, as any of my friends will attest, a lot.

I had been under the impression that our communication challenges were due to Jim’s hearing loss and not related to my a Parkinson's disease. My son doesn’t usually have a problem hearing me, but he can hear snow falling.

Noticing changes in my voice

Imagine my surprise when I recently noticed a change in my volume, especially when I'm tired. My voice was quieter and somewhat hoarse.

I found it more difficult to carry on a conversation and I felt as though I didn’t have enough air. Unfortunately, we spend the most time together in the evening when my voice is at its weakest.

If I tried to speak louder, it felt as though I was angry and shouting. We obviously needed a solution to our communication difficulties.

A referral to speech therapy

Since my husband was doing the best he could, it was up to me. I saw my primary care physician and got a referral for speech therapy. I am now scheduled to begin Speech Therapy. I was diagnosed with hypokinetic dysarthria, which causes stiffness in the rib cage and weakness in the diaphragm.

I will be doing the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment known as LOUD with a certified therapist next month. This method is considered highly successful in treating voice difficulty for people with Parkinson's disease. It is recommended to do the sessions daily and I am committed to do so.

In the meantime I have found several voice training sites online and have added them to my routine. YouTube has several and they are fun to do.

Listening techniques

Many of the listening techniques suggested when speaking to someone who is hard of hearing are proving helpful for both of us.

We try to be sure to face one another, turn down or turn off the TV or music, put more space between words and use fewer words. Sometimes adding a gesture or saying something a different way makes all the difference.

I am excited and looking forward to being able to enhance our level of satisfaction communicating with one another after therapy.

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