Hearing Loss in the Elderly

Isolated. Misunderstood. Excluded. These are just a few of the emotions which could be prevalent in seniors with hearing loss, who find it hard to maintain social connections with friends and family, who struggle to communicate with them.

Hearing loss in the elderly is very common, for a variety of reasons: genetics, a lifetime of accrued damage from noise, disease, and the process of getting older itself. And while frustrating when trying to join in discussions, hearing loss can also be dangerous, leading to missed information presented by doctors, alerts, doorbells, and alarms which are not heard, and so much more. In addition to that, untreated hearing loss puts older adults at an increased risk for developing dementia, as cognitive abilities decrease at a faster rate.

If you suspect a senior loved one may be struggling with hearing issues, examine the following list of hearing loss warning flags:

  • Complaining of other people mumbling
  • Turning the TV or radio up to volumes that disturb others
  • Often asking others to repeat what was stated
  • Struggling specifically with hearing women’s and children’s voices
  • Getting lost in conversations with more than two people
  • Issues hearing on the telephone

To better communicate with an individual with hearing loss, try these suggestions:

  • Speak clearly, at a reasonable pace, while facing the senior and keeping eye contact
  • Use gestures and other nonverbal cues in combination with your words
  • Minimize background noises and potential distractions
  • Stay patient, relaxed, and positive
  • When requested to repeat something, try utilizing different words

There are a variety of useful adaptive devices on the market that your loved one’s doctor may recommend; for example:

  • Hearing aids: With many various types available, be sure your loved one asks for a trial period ahead of committing to a particular hearing aid, as insurance may not cover the price, and they are often very expensive.
  • Cochlear implants: These electronic devices are appropriate for individuals with severe hearing loss, but they are not effective with all types of hearing loss, and may also need to be supplemented with supplemental adaptations, such as blinking doorbell lights or vibrating smoke detector alarms.
  • OTC options: Individuals with mild or moderate hearing loss could find 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 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

Hearts at Home In-Home Care, providers of top-rated private duty home care in Kansas City, can also offer invaluable help to those with hearing loss in a variety of ways, including recommendations for adaptive devices, transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and procedures, friendly companionship to stave off loneliness, and more. Email or call us today at 913-440-4209 for more information on our knowledgeable in-home assistance that makes life safer and much more comfortable and enjoyable, as well as for additional hearing loss resources.