What to do If You’re Worried About Elderly Hearing Loss
Perhaps it started subtly at first. You had to repeat a few words now and then. This didn’t alarm you. After all, elderly hearing loss and hearing problems are a natural part of aging, right?
But then you notice the problem getting progressively worse. What should you do?
At Bladen East, we understand that many of our residents are experiencing elderly hearing loss, and we tailor our care to better accommodate them and ensure that they are understood.
What should you do if you’re concerned about your mom or dad’s hearing? We’ve compiled some useful information for you.
Three Things to Do If You’re Worried About Mom or Dad’s Elderly Hearing Loss
1. Have Patience
We know it’s frustrating to have to repeat yourself over and over so that your parents can understand you, but realize that it is probably equally as frustrating for them. Without patience, the situation can soon become stressful and tense.
Mention to your parent that you’re concerned about their elderly hearing loss, and that you want to help them. Allow extra time to ensure your message gets across, and don’t be flustered if it takes more than one attempt for you to be understood.
2. Take Them to An Audiologist
It’s important to realize there are differences between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser. While both can conduct hearing tests, an audiologist has much more extensive education and experience. In addition, audiologists typically work closely with ear, nose and throat doctors and can team up to resolve any more serious issues.
An audiologist will also help your parents determine which is the best type of hearing aid for their elderly hearing loss.
3. Find Efficient Ways to Communicate with Them
Work with your mom or dad to see which method of communication works best for them.
If you’re worried about mom or dad’s hearing, then work with them to help ensure smooth communication. This may mean speaking slower or always facing them when you speak.
Following are some useful tips for interacting with those who are hard of hearing:
- Don’t call them from another room—be sure to be in the same room when you’re speaking to them.
- Use hand gestures to get your point across.
- If you know the topic you’re going to be discussing, mention it to your parents so they can pick up on verbal cues that can help them comprehend the conversation.
- Don’t exaggerate your mouth movements. This will make matters even more confusing
- Don’t shout. This does make things clearer, and it often causes frustration and embarrassment.
- Eliminate background noise when having a conversation.
- If giving directions or providing important, vital information, be sure to write it down so they can easily refer to it later.
What Are Three Types of Elderly Hearing Loss?
There are three main types of hearing loss: sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss and mixed hearing loss.
The first type is sensorineural hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is when there is damage to the inner ear or the nerve that delivers sound signals to your brain. The most common type of hearing loss, this is often seen in the senior population.
The second type is conductive hearing loss, which occurs when sound waves are blocked from carrying their signals to the inner ear. They may be blocked by impacted earwax, structural problems with the ear, fluid or eardrum injuries. Often, when the underlying issue is resolved, the hearing returns.
The third type is mixed hearing loss, and it is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
What Is the Most Common Reason for Elderly Hearing Loss?
There are several reasons for hearing loss, but one of the most common is age. One in three Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss. That figure rises to nearly half in those 75 and older, according to information from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
As we age, we are more likely to need hearing aids or other assistive devices.
But why does getting older affect how we process sounds?
Why We Lose Our Hearing As We Age
The reason behind age-related hearing loss can be best understood when examining how we hear.
Sensory hair cells are used to relay sound to other parts of the ear, where it is transformed into signals for the brain. The hair cells can become damaged from age or extensive exposure to loud noise.
These hair cells do not grow back after they are damaged. The result is permanent elderly hearing loss.
What Are Three Warning Signs of Elderly Hearing Loss?
While there are several signs that could indicate a hearing loss, here are three of the most prevalent ones:
Turning up the volume
Do you find the volume level slowly creeping upward when you watch TV? How about when you play music? Are you or your parents finding yourself constantly asking people to repeat things in a louder voice?
If you find that you or your parents have to increase the sound level more and more, it could be one of the three warning signs of hearing loss.
Difficulty Understanding Speech
Issues aren’t just related to difficulty hearing at a lower volume, warning signs also center around a lack of understanding what was said. In other words, it’s not just that someone’s speech may not be loud enough, but it isn’t clear enough.
This particularly happens when trying to distinguish between consonants, such as p and t. For example, thinking someone said “pop” when they actually said “top.” Asking someone to speak slowly or more clearly can also be an indicator of a problem. This also means that you or your parents may have difficulty understanding people when you are in a crowded place like a restaurant or sporting event.
Pain or Difficulty With Certain Pitches
According to the Centers for Disease Control, ringing in the ears can be a potential warning sign of hearing loss. Those who have hearing loss are also more likely to be hypersensitive to certain sounds, which may cause them intense discomfort.
They may also have difficulty hearing sounds that are high-pitched, such as doorbells, alarm clocks or phones.
Can You Recover From Hearing Loss?
This depends upon the actual cause of the hearing loss. As we mentioned above, age-related hearing loss frequently is due to damage to the delicate hair cells in your ear—hair cells that do not regenerate after they are damaged. In cases such as this, you are not going to regain your hearing.
However, some hearing loss conditions are reversible. For example, some types of hearing loss are caused by structural problems with the ear. In certain instances, surgery or other medical intervention can correct this issue, restoring hearing.
Following are some examples of cases where hearing can be restored:
- If hearing was damaged due to excessive earwax. Once the wax is removed, hearing should return to normal.
- Chronic ear infections can cause hearing loss. However, once these infections are treated, your hearing improves.
- Sometimes, you may lose all or some of your hearing. This can occur suddenly or over the course of several days. In certain cases—roughly 50 percent—those with the condition regain their hearing in a few weeks.
At Bladen East, We Understand How to Work With Those Who Are Hard of Hearing
Hearing loss affects every area of your life. It can be frustrating and even depressing. We understand that many of our residents have hearing loss, and we tailor our community and plans to help them communicate and ensure they understand the scope of what is being said.
Because at Bladen East, we believe in treating our residents like they are members of our family because, in so many ways, they are. By caring for those you love, it enables you to return to your role as son, daughter or spouse.
If you’re interested in learning more, just let us know when you’d like to schedule a tour. But hurry, our spaces fill quickly.