Isolated. Misunderstood. Ignored. These are only a few of the many emotions which are common in those with hearing loss, who find it difficult to continue social connections with friends and loved ones, who struggle to communicate with them.
For older adults, hearing loss is quite common, for many different reasons: genetics, a lifetime of accumulated damage from noise, disease, and in the process of aging itself. And while frustrating when wanting to join in discussions, hearing loss can also be dangerous, leading to missed information given by health practitioners, alerts, doorbells, and alarms which might be unheard, and so much more. In addition, untreated hearing loss puts older adults at a higher risk for developing dementia, as cognitive capabilities decline at a greater rate.
In the event that you believe an older loved one could be struggling with a hearing disability, review the following checklist of warning flags:
- Complaining of others mumbling
- Turning the TV or radio up to volumes that irritate others
- Often asking others to repeat what was stated
- Struggling especially with hearing women’s and children’s voices
- Becoming lost in conversations with more than two people
- Problems hearing on the telephone
To better communicate with an older adult with hearing loss, try these suggestions:
- Speak clearly, at a reasonable pace, while facing the individual and sustaining eye contact
- Use gestures along with other nonverbal cues in combination with your words
- Reduce background sounds and potential distractions
- Remain patient, relaxed, and positive
- When asked to repeat something, try utilizing different words
There are a number of useful adaptive products available that your loved one’s physician may recommend, for example:
- Hearing aids: With many different types available, be sure your loved one asks for a trial period before investing in a particular hearing aid, as insurance might not cover the price, and they are usually expensive.
- Cochlear implants: These electronic devices are ideal for people who have severe hearing loss, but they are not effective with all types of hearing loss, and may have to be supplemented with added adaptations, such as blinking doorbell lights or vibrating smoke detector alarms.
- OTC options: People who have mild or moderate hearing loss might discover relief from new over-the-counter hearing products that amplify sounds; soon to be available for purchase online and in stores.
The following resources can provide additional information and assistance for individuals experiencing hearing loss:
Hearing Loss Association of America
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Live Free Home Health Care, one of the top live in caregiver agencies in Bristol, NH and the surrounding areas, can also offer invaluable help to those with hearing loss in many ways, such as suggestions for adaptive devices, transportation and accompaniment to healthcare appointments and procedures, friendly companionship to stave off loneliness, and more. Contact us today at 603-217-0149 for additional details on our professional in-home assistance that makes life safer and more comfortable and enjoyable, as well as for additional hearing loss resources.