Addressing Hearing Loss May Improve Care of Older Adults

Age-related hearing loss, also called presbycusis, happens because the ear changes as we age. It is the most common type of hearing loss, affecting one in three people over 65 and half of those over 75. This means there is a high chance that an older person you care for has trouble hearing. 

To ensure the seniors get the best care, it’s a good idea to test their hearing every year. This way, you can keep an eye out for hearing loss and treat it before it affects their golden years.

Caring for older adults with hearing loss

One of the most significant factors in the success and health of the older people in your life is how well you care for them. If your loved one is in an assisted living or nursing home, the caretakers need to know if they have trouble hearing. People often think that a senior who doesn’t seem interested, engaged, or close to them is showing early signs of dementia when they have hearing loss that hasn’t been treated.

The amount of noise in a nursing home or hospital is another way that untreated hearing loss can be a problem. When many people are talking at once, monitors are beeping, and many TVs and radios are on, it can be challenging for anyone to hear. 

But this can make it hard for people with trouble hearing to understand what doctors and nurses say. It’s way too easy to ignore medical advice, which can worsen things. This is made worse because masks are often worn in healthcare settings. Masks do an excellent job of keeping people from getting sick, but they make it harder for seniors with hearing loss to hear and talk to each other.

Risks of hearing loss that are not treated

Even though hearing loss starts in the ears, it affects the body. 

First and foremost, hearing loss is a problem with communication that, if not fixed, can make seniors feel lonely, depressed, and withdrawn. People with hearing loss and loneliness are more likely to get dementia, especially after they turn 65. 

Due to less awareness of space, there is also a greater chance of accidents, falls, and trips to the hospital. For older people, a fall can easily cause broken bones and other health problems that can shorten their lives.

Getting the health care staff aware of problems with communication

Medical providers must know if someone you care about uses hearing aids or cochlear implants. 

When your loved one is in a care facility, the staff must know that they use hearing aids. This can help staff keep track of hearing aids and ensure they are being used. They can also help you track them and ensure the batteries are fresh or charged overnight. 

In a care facility with high staff turnover, putting up signs in the room that say your loved one is hard of hearing can help everyone stay on the same page about how to care for your loved one.

How to help during medical appointments

When your loved one goes to the doctor, it can be helpful to go with them to ensure that the proper steps are taken. These include writing down doctor’s notes and instructions so your loved one can refer to them later. 

You might suggest that nurses and doctors speak slowly and clearly, and make eye contact so that your loved one can understand what is happening. Even with hearing aids, it’s easy to lose track of the conversation and get frustrated with medical care.

Regular hearing treatment continues to matter

Presbycusis is a condition that lasts for life, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. The most important thing to do is to get your senior a hearing test as soon as possible. We can help you figure out what kind of hearing loss your loved one has and help you find the best treatment for them. 

Hearing aids are the most common way to treat hearing loss, but it’s essential to ensure they’re easy enough to use for a senior with limited dexterity. Make an appointment with us today to find the best care for your loved one. Contact American Hearing + Audiology for an appointment at one of our top-rated hearing centers.