Lila's experience is not unique. There are many cases of families who discover that what they thought to be signs of dementia in their aged loved ones are, in actuality, signs of hearing loss. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.
Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss
How can you tell if your loved one is experiencing hearing loss? Here are some signs that your senior may be experiencing a hearing problem:
- Your senior turns the volume of the TV up to an uncomfortable level for others in the room.
- Your senior speaks more softly or more loudly than he or she once did.
- Your senior often complains that others are mumbling.
- Your senior answers questions inappropriately or appears to have problems following a conversation.
- Your senior begins to avoid talking on the phone or stops attending public events like church or social meetings.
- Your senior begins to withdraw from taking an active part in family discussions.
While these actions may not always signal hearing loss, if your senior begins to exhibit these symptoms and behaviors, getting a hearing check for your loved one is likely a good idea.
How to Help Seniors with Hearing Loss
If your senior is diagnosed with hearing loss there are several things you can do to help. Here are some best practices for how to handle communication with someone who is hard of hearing:
- Get the attention of your senior before you start to speak so that he or she can look directly at you as you talk.
- Speak clearly and distinctly, but avoid shouting.
- Watch your senior for cues that he or she is confused. When you see confusion, rephrase your words to provide more clarity.
- Eliminate background noise like a television or radio so that your senior can focus on your words.
- Keep a pen and paper handy to jot down important ideas to ensure your senior understands them.
- Be patient and positive, even if you have to repeat your words often. Remember that hearing loss is stressful for your senior as well.
Devices that May Help Seniors with Hearing Loss
Many seniors suffering from hearing loss may benefit from the use of hearing aids. While hearing aids can be quite expensive, they often provide seniors with a better quality of life. Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids, but there are some low-cost options available. The best course is to comparison shop for hearing aids that fit your budget.
Other devices that can help include:
- Amplified telephones
- Door and phone signalers that flash to attract the attention of your senior
- Clocks and timers with louder alarms, vibrations, or flashing lights
How In-Home Care Can Help
In-home care workers can also help your senior to live independently even if he or she is suffering a loss of hearing. Care workers can encourage your senior to take advantage of available tools like hearing aids by helping your loved one learn how to use them properly.
Additionally, in-home care workers spend a great deal of time talking with your loved one, thereby helping him or her to avoid any feelings of social isolation that result from significant hearing loss.
If your loved one is experiencing hearing loss and your family would appreciate some help in coping with the issue, contact us today. We work with seniors and their families every day to provide the best quality of life possible by addressing any special issues seniors face.