Addressing Hearing Loss May Improve Care of Older Adults

 

Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, occurs from changes in the ear as we age. It is the most common type of hearing loss affecting 1 in 3 seniors over 65 and half of those over 75. This means that the likeliness that a senior you care for is struggling with a hearing impairment is very high. To ensure the best care for the seniors in your care, it’s a good idea to have their hearing tested annually to monitor and be able to treat a hearing loss before it starts to affect the quality of their golden years.

Elder Care and Hearing Loss

Attentive eldercare is one of the biggest factors in the success and health of the seniors in your life. If your loved one is in an assisted living home, or nursing home it’s key that the caretakers are aware of a hearing issue. If your senior seems uninterested, unengaged, or distant, often people mistake this for the early signs of dementia, when it is just untreated hearing loss. 

The other aspect where unaddressed hearing loss plays out in an eldercare or medical facility is the amount of noise present. With numerous conversations occurring at once, beeping monitors and numerous TVs and radios playing, it can be hard for anyone to hear. However, for the hearing impaired, this can make hearing instructions from doctors and nurses close to impossible. It’s far too easy to miss medical advice which can lead to further complications. This is amplified by the prevalence of masks used in healthcare settings. While masks are effective in protecting each other from infectious disease, they make it that much harder for seniors with hearing loss to hear and communicate.

Risks of Untreated Hearing Loss

While hearing loss is an issue which stems from the ears, its effects are far-reaching. First and foremost, hearing loss is a communication issue, which if unaddressed can cause seniors to feel withdrawn, chronically depressed, and isolated. Loneliness from hearing loss is believed to be a major factor in a higher risk of dementia, especially after the age of 65. Other health risks include an increased risk of accidents, falls and hospitalizations due to less awareness of space. For people of advanced age, a fall can easily lead to broken bones and create medical conditions which shorten life expectancy.

Alerting Health Care Staff of Communication Issues

If your loved one is using hearing aids or cochlear implants, it’s important that medical care providers are aware of this. In a care facility it is imperative that the staff knows that your loved one uses hearing aids. This can ensure that the staff are able to keep track of hearing aids, and make sure they are worn. They can also help keep track of them and make sure the batteries are fresh or charged overnight. In a care facility with rotating staff posting signs in the room which inform caretakers of your loved one’s hearing impairment can help everyone stay on the same page around your loved one’s care.

Doctors’ Appointments and Hearing Loss

When attending doctor appointments, it can be helpful to accompany your loved one to make sure that proper accommodations are being taken. Some of these include, written out doctor’s notes and instructions, so your loved one can refer to them later. It may also be helpful to suggest that nurses and doctors speak slowly and clearly, maintaining eye contact to ensure that your loved one has the chance to follow along. It’s all too easy to become lost in conversation, even with the use of hearing aids, and become frustrated with medical care.

Treating Hearing Loss 

Presbycusis is a permanent condition but that does not mean it isn’t treatable. The important thing to do is schedule a hearing test for your senior as soon as possible. We can help diagnose the nature of a hearing loss and help you find the most appropriate treatment for your loved one. This most common treatment is hearing aids, but it is important to ensure that the hearing aids are large enough and user-friendly for a senior with limited dexterity to use easily. To find the best treatment for your loved one, make an appointment today!