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Hearing Loss--Improving Communication with Seniors

“Pardon me?”

“Can you repeat that, dear?”

“I’m sorry – what was that?”

If this sounds like a typical response in your conversation with a loved one or a senior, you’re not alone. The National Institute on Aging reports a strong link between aging and hearing loss, with nearly half of those age 75 and older experiencing difficulties with hearing.

Hearing loss usually creeps up gradually on seniors. Over time, the wear and tear on the ears from noise contributes to hearing loss by damaging the sensitive inner ear. However, seniors with hearing loss generally wait an average of seven years before seeking help, and more than 15 million people in the United States with hearing loss avoid seeking help altogether.

Though hearing loss is irreversible, we want seniors who suffer from its effects to know that there are ways to help effectively manage hearing loss. To communicate more easily, seniors with a hearing loss should practice the following tips:

  • Position themselves to hear better by facing the person to whom they are speaking

  • Turn off background noise

  • Ask others to speak clearly

  • Choose quiet settings

  • Consider using an assistive listening device—hearing devices, such as TV-listening systems or telephone-amplifying devices, help people hear better while decreasing other noises

  • Consider using devices such as flashing/vibrating clocks and phones; visible doorbell signalers; specialized smoke and burglar alarms

Family caregivers (and caregivers in general) can help by:

  • Recognizing the signs of hearing loss and making appropriate referrals

  • Being sensitive to the impact hearing loss has on the senior and the stages of adjustment the senior may go through before acceptance

  • Modifying the home environment, when possible, to accommodate the special needs of those with a hearing loss

  • Seeking the support of professional agencies like Aaging Better In-Home Care who have developed expertise providing quality home care to seniors with hearing loss

Need more information?

  • Visit the League for Hard of Hearing

  • Contact AssistGuide Information Services for new and improved devices for accommodating hearing loss

  • Contact Aaging Better In-Home Care for information on finding ways to live comfortably despite hearing loss

Sadly, many seniors begin to feel left out and isolated when suffering from hearing loss. But professional home care agencies can help fill the void for lonely seniors by providing companionship, accompaniment and transportation to appointments and events, and much more. Call us any time at 208-777-0308 to learn more about how our local home care services can help seniors maximize their wellness, safety and independence, right from the comfort of their own homes.

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