Addressing Hearing Loss in Older Adults

Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D.Hearing Loss

Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D.
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[In the U.S. alone, 48 million people struggle with hearing loss. Although hearing loss can impact anyone of all ages, it is most prevalent among seniors. 24% of seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 live with hearing loss. That number jumps up to close to 50% in those aged 75 and up. Hearing loss is one of the most common and significant health challenges facing older adults today and can have major effects on a senior’s quality of life, on their relationships, and on their mental and physical health. While hearing loss associated with aging cannot be cured, family members or close friends can help address hearing loss with seniors in a number of ways.

Talk to Your Loved One about Hearing Loss

An important first step in addressing your loved one’s hearing loss is helping them recognize it. More often than not, seniors may not be able to recognize they are facing hearing problems. Since it might be a sensitive topic to address, it is critical to find the right time and environment to bring it up. Find a quiet distraction-free environment to address the issue. You should begin by bringing up positives such as the desire to enjoy social situations and interactions. Be sure to discuss safety concerns with them, like the inability to hear car horns or smoke detectors. Finally, it’s crucial to gently point out the signs of hearing loss: excessively high volumes on the TV or radio, asking people to constantly repeat themselves, and struggles following conversation in louder environments. Approaching in a non-threatening, safe way will hopefully allow your loved with hearing loss to admit that they aren’t hearing like they once did.

Communication Tips and Strategies

When engaged in conversation with those experiencing hearing loss, it is important to understand that certain methods and ways of communication may improve the interaction. The Centers for Disease Control offers recommendations for speaking with hearing-impaired seniors. Addressing a person face-to-face is important as those with hearing loss are in tune with non-verbal cues. Be sure to not cover or block your face while speaking. Furthermore, it is critical to articulate your words and adjust the volume of your voice if necessary. Make sure you aren’t screaming or shouting because this also impacts what can be heard. If you’re interacting with more than just one individual with hearing loss, taking turns while speaking is best as overlapping conversations are a challenge to follow, even without hearing loss. Try to limit background noise as those with hearing loss may have a challenge picking up sounds over sound emitted through TV, stereos, air conditioners, and fans.

Be Patient and Remain Calm

Rifts in communication can lead to tension between loved ones. It’s easy for your patience to wear down from constantly repeating yourself and adjusting your communication methods in order to be heard by someone facing hearing loss. This situation could lead to negative feelings, tension, and even resentment towards the person with hearing loss, and can ultimately push them to become further isolated. If you find your patience running low and frustration building, take a step back and try to remember that your loved one who is facing hearing loss cannot control the situation and may be just as frustrated as you in trying to communicate. It is important to understand this fact and to be more patient and calmer while engaging in conversation with those with hearing loss.

Be Conscious of Enabling

While it is important that you assist your loved one with hearing loss in helping them understand certain missed words here and there, doing so all the time by “being their ear” may be counterintuitive. They may just continually rely on your for communication help and avoid seeking hearing loss treatment.

Be conscious about enabling by encouraging your loved one to seek assistance and treatment from a hearing health professional. A licensed audiologist can administer pain free tests to determine the degree of hearing loss your loved one is facing and equip them with the necessary hearing device to improve their hearing.

Contact Atlanta Hearing Doctor Today

If you find your elderly loved one facing struggles with hearing loss, reach out to Atlanta Hearing Doctor today to seek treatment. Our professional staff will provide a hearing test and help determine what the necessary steps are to help you be on your way to a better hearing future.