Supporting A Loved One with Hearing Loss in a Nursing Home

Hearing loss and testing

Do you care for someone who is living in a nursing home? It may have been a difficult decision at first, but now that you are able to witness how much around the clock care they are able to receive- it most likely feels worth it. Just because they live outside of your home, doesn’t mean that you still can’t support them. Aside from regular visists, one of the greatest gifts you can give them is to monitor for hearing issues and address any which become uncovered.

Age Related Hearing Loss

In older adults hearing loss is the third most common health disorder. It affects one in three 65 years and older and half of those 75 years plus. The older we get the higher our risk becomes, due to changes in the inner ear, from a life of hearing. This means that regular testing is essential once you reach 60 and on. Your loved one might feel that they feel and hear just fine, without connecting other communication issues directly to hearing. This is because hearing loss is often so gradual that the brain rationalizes the subtle loss over years and is difficult to self-diagnose. This however, does not mean that the many side effects attached to the illness are not at play. This can include rifts in relationships in personal and professional life, chronic depression, loss of self-esteem, decreased mobility, independence and a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Support Hearing Loss Treatment 

The first step is to make sure your loved one in a nursing home is monitored for hearing loss. If a loss is detected, it’s important to treat it as soon as possible to reduce the risk of the many health concerns which are incredibly difficult to reverse once they’ve fully progressed. The most common treatment for hearing loss are hearing aids – tiny electronic devices which will help your loved one hear others and the world around them with ease.

Make Sure Hearing Aids are Used

You can get hearing aids which are properly programed for your loved one. However, the next step is making sure they are worn. Hearing aids can sound kind of jarring at first. Sounds you may have not heard in years are suddenly amplified. At the beginning, visit regularly and help your loved one get through the adjustment period. Remind them to start with a few hours a day at first when they are having a quieter time and slowly build up over two weeks. By that point you should encourage your loved one to wear your hearing aids all day from the time they wake till the time they go to sleep – only to be removed when you are going to be exposed to water. 

Work with the Staff

The beauty of a nursing home is that the staff is always there to help your loved one prosper and live to their highest potential. Take advantage of this and communicate with the staff about your loved one’s hearing issues. If your loved one has the same staff daily working with them, let them know that they use hearing aids. You can ask them to help your loved one, charge, clean and maintain them as well as ensure that they get worn and not lost. If the staff rotates, it may be helpful to post legible signs around the room, letting people know the best communication styles to address your loved one, as well reminding staff to make sure they are worn. That way all the staff can know the status of your loved one’s hearing, no matter who comes in and can help keep track of these often expensive and intricate devices.

Help Develop Routine

One way to make sure that hearing aids are worn is to create a routine around them. It takes some time but setting alarms and reminders can start to embed it into your psyche.
This includes putting them in first thing in the morning and remembering to take them out when bathing. It also means getting used to charging them over night or replacing the battery regularly, depending on the model.

In addition, regular cleanings and inspections can make sure that your devices last a long time. Encourage your loved one to wipe away earwax and dirt at the end of every day, along with their bedtime routine, as well as inspect for any cracks or loose tubing which could impact their performance. If a problem is detected early there is more chance it can be repaired.

For more tips on how to support your loved one with hearing loss, contact us today