Hearing loss: Tips for senior caregivers

BHC senior hearing loss main.jpg“Speak up!”

As we age, hearing is often the first of our senses to suffer.

Hearing loss the most common conditions affecting older and elderly adults. More than 30 percent of people between the ages of 65 and 74 have some hearing loss, while hearing loss affects 50 percent for those 75 and older.

Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, affects both ears equally and may be difficult for the senior to notice in the early stages. This type of hearing loss is thought to be hereditary and is likely caused by changes in the inner ear and the auditory nerve. Presbycusis not only makes it difficult to hear what others are saying in normal conversation but also makes loud sounds intolerable.

Families may get frustrated by having to repeat themselves or listen to a blaring TV, but for seniors hearing loss is more than just inconvenient. A senior’s safety is at risk when a senior can’t hear alarms or respond over the phone, or they pretend to understand conversations and agree to things they haven’t accurately heard.

What are the signs of hearing loss in seniors?
Asking for parts of conversations to be repeated

  • Frustration with other people for “mumbling” or speaking too softly
  • TV or radio turned up to higher than normal levels
  • Reluctance to attend events because "it's too noisy"
  • Isolation, depression or loneliness
  • Pain or ringing in the ears
  • Responding to questions they have not heard correctly with unrelated answers
  • Not answering the phone or doorbell

If you suspect your senior loved one is experiencing hearing loss, make sure they are addressing the issue with their doctor. Hearing loss can be caused by excess wax or other debris in the ears, ear infections and even some medications. There may be an easy option to improve your senior loved one’s hearing, or they may be a candidate for a hearing aid.

How can we help seniors cope with hearing loss?

  • Suggest social gatherings with few people in a quiet space – at home rather than in a restaurant, for example.
  • Make sure someone is sitting near the senior loved one to offer help, so they are included in the conversation.
  • Face the person you are speaking to and use facial expressions and hand gestures to give what you are saying visible context.
  • Agree with everyone in the conversation that only one person should speak at a time.
  • Speak a little more slowly and loudly and pronounce words more carefully, but don’t yell.
  • Don’t get frustrated if you have to repeat something for your senior loved one; they probably feel embarrassed to ask, and you will only make them feel worse.

Belvedere Home Care is there for families when a senior loved one has suffered a hearing loss. We offer flexible scheduling, 24-hour care and can help seniors manage their diets and medications for better overall health. For more information about how we can help you feel confident about the health and safety of your senior loved one, contact us today by calling (518) 694-9400 Option 4 or email info@belvedereservices.com.