“Can you repeat that please?”
“I wish you would speak up and stop mumbling!”
“I’m sorry; what was that you said?”
If you’re providing care for an older loved one who struggles with hearing problems, phrases like these are likely part of your daily conversations. And you’re far from alone, with as many as a third of seniors ages 65 – 74 experiencing hearing loss, and half of those over age 75. While aging and hearing impairment are a common pair, the repercussions can range from frustrating to dangerous. Missing out on conversations is hard enough, but a senior with hearing loss may not understand a doctor’s instructions, miss hearing alarms and doorbells, or be unable to hear a car horn honking an alert and be at risk for an accident.
Left untreated, many hearing problems can worsen. It’s important to check with the doctor if hearing loss is suspected, although bear in mind that a senior may become defensive or deny having a problem at all.
To gauge if a senior loved one is struggling with hearing, pay attention to the following:
- Does the senior struggle with hearing what’s being said over the phone?
- Is it hard for him/her to join in and follow along with conversations involving multiple people?
- Is the TV turned up to an unusually loud volume?
- Does the senior often ask others to repeat what has just been said?
- Is the senior complaining of others mumbling?
The doctor can help uncover the cause for the senior’s hearing loss, and recommend options to help such as a hearing aid, assistive listening or alerting device, mobile apps, or a cochlear implant if the impairment is severe.
You can also help someone struggling with aging and hearing impairment by attempting to:
- Minimize background noise and distractions when talking with the senior.
- Use non-verbal cues as much as possible, such as hand gestures and facial expressions.
- Speak to the senior face-to-face while maintaining eye contact.
- Elevate your voice slightly, while never yelling at the person.
- Speak at a normal pace – slowing down your speech doesn’t help.
- Use different words if the person is unable to decipher what you’ve said.
- Maintain patience. As frustrating as it may be to engage in a conversation with someone with hearing loss, it’s even more frustrating for the senior.
Nightingale Homecare, the top-rated provider of home health in Phoenix and surrounding areas, is always here to help as well. We offer a full range of both skilled and non-medical in-home care services that address and overcome a variety of challenges for seniors and the families who care for them.
Contact us at (602) 504-1555 to request free resources related to aging and hearing impairment, and to schedule a complimentary consultation in the comfort of home to learn more about how we can help.