Isolated. Misunderstood. Excluded. These are only a few of the countless emotions which are common in individuals with hearing loss, who find it difficult to maintain social connections with friends and family members, who struggle to communicate with them.
Hearing loss in older adults is fairly typical, for a number of reasons: genetics, a lifetime of accumulated damage from noise, disease, and the aging process itself. And while frustrating when wanting to join in discussions, hearing loss might also be hazardous, leading to missed information supplied by doctors, alerts, doorbells, and alarms which may be not heard, and so much more. On top of that, untreated hearing loss puts older adults at an increased risk for being diagnosed with dementia, as cognitive capabilities decline at a faster rate.
If you think a senior loved one could be dealing with hearing issues, review the following list of hearing loss red flags:
- Complaining of others muttering
- Turning the television or radio up to volumes that bother others
- Frequently asking others to repeat what was stated
- Struggling in particular with hearing women’s and children’s voices
- Getting lost in discussions with more than two people
- Difficulty hearing over the phone
To better communicate with an individual with hearing loss, try these guidelines:
- Speak clearly, at a reasonable pace, while facing the individual and keeping eye contact
- Use gestures along with other nonverbal cues in combination with your words
- Reduce background disturbances and distractions
- Remain patient, relaxed, and positive
- When requested to repeat something, try utilizing different words
There are lots of helpful adaptive devices readily available that your loved one’s doctor may recommend, including:
- Hearing aids: With quite a few types available, make sure your senior loved one asks for a trial period ahead of committing to a particular hearing aid, as insurance might not cover the price, and they are usually expensive.
- Cochlear implants: These electronic devices are suitable for those with severe hearing loss, but they are not effective with all types of hearing loss, and may have to be supplemented with additional adaptations, such as blinking doorbell lights or vibrating smoke detector alarms.
- OTC options: Those diagnosed with mild or moderate hearing loss may find relief from new over-the-counter hearing products, which amplify sounds; soon to be for sale online and in stores.
The following resources can provide more information and help for individuals experiencing hearing loss:
Hearing Loss Association of America
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Grace Home Care, experts in supporting Topeka independent living, can also offer invaluable assistance to those with hearing loss, in a variety of ways, such as tips for adaptive devices, transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and procedures, friendly companionship to stave off loneliness, and so much more. Email us today or call us at 785-286-2273 for additional details on our professional in-home assistance which makes life safer and much more comfortable and enjoyable, as well as for additional hearing loss resources.