This year, almost 40% of adults aged 65 and over have hearing loss. This means that as a nation, we’re aging into hearing loss. It also means that chances are good you or someone you care about will be living with hearing loss in the next few years.
As the population ages, more people with hearing loss are moving into nursing homes. This is great for keeping seniors healthy, happy, and safe – but it can create some challenges for those who already have trouble hearing.
It’s not easy living with hearing loss.
Even when you have a support system of family and friends, it can be frustrating to constantly repeat yourself or ask people to speak up for you. A loved one with hearing loss may feel isolated from their loved ones and the rest of the world if they don’t have access to technology that helps people hear better.
Your loved one might also be embarrassed about their hearing loss because people assume they are slow just because they can’t hear what is said from across the table at dinner.
Now that you understand the challenges those with hearing loss face, here are some ways in which you can help your loved one thrive in their nursing home, even if they are heard of hearing.
Make sure their hearing aids are working.
Communication can be difficult if your loved one’s hearing aids aren’t working correctly.
Hearing aids are sensitive and delicate devices that you need to take care of to work correctly. Make sure that the batteries are always fully charged and replaced before the end of their life span (usually six months). Hearing aids should be stored in a case when not in use, so they don’t get damaged or broken.
Check that they’re turned on before entering a room or speaking with someone else. If you notice any issues with their fit or functionality, schedule an appointment with your loved one’s audiologist immediately so they can get fixed before it becomes too difficult for them to hear other people talking around them.
Think of the nursing home environment.
Ask that important conversations take place in a quiet area, with no background noise, and whenever possible, face to face.
When staff has a conversation with your loved one, make sure that it takes place in a quiet room, with no background noise. If possible, the staff face the person directly when talking to them and look at their face. This will allow your loved ones to focus on what you are saying and help them understand better.
Work with the care team to develop strategies for reducing distractions during meals and other times when communication is required.
When your loved one is in a dining room or other public space, it’s essential to work with the care team to reduce distractions as much as possible. That can mean keeping the room quiet and providing visual cues for non-verbal communication when necessary.
Advocate for your loved one who has hearing loss.
You might not be able to help your loved one with hearing loss, but you can undoubtedly advocate on their behalf. Here are some tips:
- Ask questions! The nursing home is responsible for ensuring that your loved one is getting the care they need at all times. You should expect them to know how best to communicate with your loved one, whether through lip-reading, an interpreter, or a writing board. If they’re not following through on this responsibility, ask why and request that they do so immediately.
- Keep a checklist handy! Remembering what questions were asked at what time can be problematic in the wake of such a stressful situation as moving into a nursing home and losing touch with family members who live far away. A checklist will help ensure that everyone involved is kept abreast of developments related to providing care for people with hearing loss.
Accepting and adapting to hearing loss can be difficult, and living in a nursing home complicates things further. Hopefully, the advice above will help your loved one enjoy the experience. Need help with your loved one’s hearing aid? Contact us today to set up an appointment. We’re here to help.