Hearing loss goes hand in hand with the senior aging process. It has a devastating effect on a person’s mental health and quality of life. Not to mention, hearing problems can also have dangerous repercussions.
It’s important to monitor the hearing of loved ones – especially seniors – and find a comprehensive hearing test so they can receive adequate treatment as soon as possible. Home health care or private duty aides can also help monitor a loved one’s hearing ability.
Why is Senior Hearing So Important?
According to the National Institute on Aging, nearly half of adults over 75 have trouble hearing. This can impact a person’s life in several ways ranging from inconvenient to severe.
- Withdrawing from social activities due to problems communicating
- Inability to understand doctor instructions
- Missing important messages or warnings
- Depression from a lack of social interaction
- Appearing rude or combative
In many cases, even loved ones may mistake a person’s hearing loss for memory loss or dementia due to the consistently poor communication.
5 Warning Signs of Hearing Loss
People rely on others around them for help – especially when it comes to senior aging. Home healthcare aides can help monitor hearing when family members aren’t available. Watch out for these warning signs.
- Inability to follow conversations with two or more people
- The TV volume is always turned very high
- Frequently asking to repeat things
- Telling people to speak up or stop mumbling
- Trouble hearing people with soft voices like some women and children
Understanding the Different Types of Hearing Problems Associated with Senior Aging
Not all hearing loss is equal. Although all hearing problems are serious conditions, some can be direr than others.
Sensorineural loss is permanent and caused by damage to the inner ear while conductive hearing loss is usually temporary and caused by a blockage from earwax.
Presbycusis is the type associated with senior aging. This involves a gradual decline in a person’s ability to hear as the middle ear degrades over time.
Sudden deafness or “Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL)” can come on quickly or over the course of a few days. Anyone experiencing sudden deafness should see a doctor immediately.
Finding a Comprehensive Hearing Test
Regular hearing tests are important: regardless of whether someone thinks their hearing is degrading or not. Since hearing problems come on gradually with senior aging, many people may not even notice the problem until the condition becomes severe.
It’s also important to receive a comprehensive hearing test.
- A doctor will check the outer ear with an otoscope to look for blockages and inspect the ear drum.
- Next, the doctor checks pressure inside the ear.
- Now it’s time for the hearing test. While wearing headphones, patients will listen to sounds in varying tones.
- After that, the doctor will check speech reception. Patients will repeat the words they hear.
- Finally, the test will cover speech discrimination to determine if the patient can hear at reasonable volumes. The speech tests should include varying pitches with different levels of background noise to mimic real life situations.
Additional tests like otoacoustic emission testing or acoustic reflex testing may check hearing through clicking tones and echoes inside the ear.
Any hearing test that suggests loss of over 25 decibels might warrant treatment to slow down further damage and improve quality of life. Hearing aids have come a long way over the past few decades. An audiologist can work with the patient to find the best hearing aid for his or her needs.
Preventative care is equally pressing. If a person can’t avoid loud noises from things like power tools or music, they should wear earplugs.
Home Healthcare for Loved Ones with Hearing Problems
People suffering from hearing trouble require attentive care and special attention. It’s important to adapt to the person’s hearing trouble rather than force them to adapt.
Keep these tips in mind while trying to communicate with someone suffering from a hearing problem.
- Don’t exclude them from the conversation.
- Speak somewhat slowly and clearly.
- Make sure conversations include one person speaking at each time.
- Say something different or reword sentences.
- While speaking, directly face the person with hearing trouble
Although it’s often easier said than done, the most important thing is to remain patient and caring.
Intrepid USA provides individualized senior home health care, private duty, and hospice services to over 21,000 patients each year. Their motto “do the right thing” reverberates through everything they do. Contact Intrepid USA today to learn more about how their broad range of services or schedule a consultation.