Are you a caregiver for someone who has hearing loss? If so, it’s important to know that hearing loss, whether treated or untreated, comes with a host of other implications. Things such as attending doctor’s appointments, day-to-day communication or even simply watching a TV requires factoring hearing loss into the equation.
First, you should know that seniors with hearing loss are more at risk for health problems, both physical and emotional. Although many falls are a concern with all seniors, the risk of falls and the inability to hear warnings and alarms, is three times higher with even mild hearing loss. Hearing loss often isolates people from their friends and family. This can lead to increases in loneliness and depression, and eventually, cognitive decline. Since most general practitioners do not routinely screen for hearing loss, caregiver often carry the burden of addressing matters of hearing health. Often it is a caregiver who brings up concerns about hearing during a regular check-up with a general practitioner. And often it is a family member who insists on making an appointment with a hearing healthcare professional, such as an audiologist.
What should you do if your loved one seems to have difficulty hearing?
You should make an appointment to see a hearing healthcare professional if the person you are caring for:
- frequently asks you or others to repeat themselves
- must increase the volume on the TV to uncomfortable levels to follow a program
- reports that sounds are muffled
- seems more withdrawn
- seems to have trouble hearing amid background noise
- has difficulty distinguishing consonant sounds, such as “K” and “T”
If you suspect there is hearing loss, take action. Depression, withdrawal and social isolation, along with physical health risks, can reduce quality of life for those with untreated hearing loss.
What to keep in mind if the person you are caring for needs hearing aids?
Hearing aids improve the quality of life for a person with hearing loss – and they help a caregiver be heard and understood, reducing misunderstandings and conflict. Keep in mind:
- Hearing aids require regular cleaning to remove dust and earwax in order to perform properly. The soft brush or cloth that comes with them can be used for this purpose
- Never insert anything into the receiver, as it can be easily damaged
- Filters need to be changed on a regular basis to prevent wax and dirt buildup
- Hearing aids need to be turned off at night. Storing them in a dry-kit removes any moisture that has built up during the day
- Depending on the model and use, you will need to change the batteries regularly (most models beep when the battery is running low)
- Regular visits to your hearing care professional provides for thorough cleaning, adjustments and any other necessary maintenance.
Here are some other helpful tips for caregivers of people with hearing loss:
- Be patient.
- Learn about the difficulties hearing loss presents. This may help you to be empathetic to the potential emotional and psychological implications.
- Find out about the resources in your area for people with hearing loss and their caregivers.
- Watch out for environmental factors that could worsen the hearing loss, including harmful noise levels and ototoxic medications.
- Making small changes at home can help reduce frustration and allow the person in your care to feel more independent. These include amplified phones, flashing or vibrating alarms and television-specific assistive listening devices (ALDs).
- Talk to the person you are caring for to find out what works best for them in terms of communication.
Taking these few simple steps can help improve the day to day quality life for the person in your care and help them engage in life once again.
At Audiology Clinic, we take a holistic approach to hearing care and are happy to work closely with loved ones to address any challenges that you face with hearing loss. Contact us at Audiology Clinic today to speak with us in person.