Do you suspect that your senior loved one suffers from hearing loss? One-third of all adults over the age of 65 do experience some kind of age-related hearing loss.
Hearing impairment can result in loss of communication skills or may lead to miscommunication with society and family members. This can contribute to depression or social withdrawal, leaving all family members affected, too. So, how can you help your loved one deal with hearing loss?
Noticing Hearing Loss Symptoms
Presbycusis is an age-related, gradual loss of hearing in both ears. It’s important to understand that this type of loss is so gradual that your loved one may not have noticed how bad their condition has progressed! Or they may be in denial.
Your concerns about loss of hearing may be confirmed if you’ve noticed that your loved one is:
- complaining that people mumble or slur words.
- frequently asking you and others to repeat words.
- overly frustrated or distracted while holding a conversation anywhere with background noise.
- hearing deep men’s voices better than higher-pitched women’s or children’s voices.
- complaining of ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
What is Causing Loss of Hearing?
However, aging and exposure to noisy sounds aren’t the only hearing loss factors. Your loved one may be experiencing loss of hearing due to a variety of reasons including:
- changes in the inner ear or middle ear
- inherited factors
- medication side effects
- medical conditions such as diabetes
Note: It’s important to contact their primary doctor if a marked, sudden hearing change occurs. This may be a sign of a larger medical problem.
Encourage Your Loved One to Get Help
No one likes to ask for help. However, it’s important to point out to your loved one that if they’re having hearing issues, you’re there to support them. If they remain in denial, you may have to lovingly (yet firmly) point out specific situations where you noticed their hearing seemed compromised.
Be persistent. It may seem uncomfortable, but gently coax them into making a hearing specialist appointment. Or offer to make an appointment for your loved one and tag along. (Make it a family affair; and you can get your own hearing tested, too!)
Devices and Tools for Hearing Issues
There are many work-arounds for loss of hearing depending on your senior’s specific situation. At the appointment, the specialist can explain the benefits of devices/aids such as:
- cochlear implants
- hearing aids
- hearing assistance phones with text displays or phone amplifiers
- speech reading training
Don’t startle a hearing-impaired senior. Turn toward them when speaking. Make sure they’re looking directly at you before you start speaking.
Speak at a higher volume, but don’t shout. Talking slowly doesn’t help the hearing impaired. It makes it more difficult to read your lips. Make an effort to enunciate clearly.
Emergency Alert Considerations
Many emergency alert devices like smoke alarms now have features like strobe lights so the hearing impaired can be alerted in a fire emergency. Help your loved one install these devices in their home.
Set up closed captioning options on TV channels which will be especially helpful in the event of a local, national, or weather emergency.
Hearing impairment can contribute to decreased quality of life. So, if you suspect that your loved one is experiencing loss, act quickly. There are so many tools to help with hearing loss, and your love and support is the best kind of tool.
Are you afraid hearing impairment is making it difficult for your senior loved one to keep living in their beloved Palos Verdes or Los Angeles South Bay home? Contact A Peaceful Way Home Care for a free evaluation.