Caregiver tips: When your loved one has hearing loss
The late actor Edward Albert once said, “The simple act of caregiving is heroic.” All across the U.S., family members and loved ones have dedicated themselves to helping those who can’t help themselves.
According to the 2020 AARP Caregivers Report, approximately 41.8 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the past year. One in five Americans takes care of either a child or adult (or both). Many care recipients have complicated medical situations—with frailty, dementia, and mobility issues being common reasons older adults need care.
So, how often does hearing loss factor into the daily lives of caregivers? The AARP report didn't include that information, but the NIDCD reports that more than 50 percent of those over the age of 75 have hearing loss. Hearing loss, whether treated or untreated, comes with a host of other implications that caregivers need to be aware of. First, seniors with hearing loss will have challenges communicating, and you may need to learn key communication tools to help them interact with you and others. They're also more at risk for health problems, both physical and emotional. These health risks include feelings of depression and isolation as well as cognitive decline.
Other physical risks include the risk of falls, which are three times more likely to occur even with mild hearing loss, and the inability to hear warnings and alarms. And since most general practitioners do not routinely screen for hearing loss, it often falls to the caregiver to make sure matters of hearing health are tended to. This means either requesting a hearing screening during a regular check-up or making an appointment with a hearing health professional.
Signs of hearing loss
Those providing care to a person with hearing loss can face other challenges as well. Everything from attending doctor’s appointments and to simply watching a television program requires factoring hearing loss into the equation. Caregivers may find themselves compensating for their loved one's hearing loss. It is helpful for caretakers to learn about hearing loss so they can help the person they are caring for live a happy and fulfilled life—which reduces the burden on you, as well.
There are numerous early warning signs that can indicate that the person you are caring for might have hearing loss. Make an appointment to see a hearing healthcare professional if the person you are caring for:
Hearing aid treatment can ease many stressors
If you suspect there is hearing loss, take action. Hearing aids have health benefits, such as delaying the onset of dementia. Not to mention they make communication much easier!
To get started, first make an appointment with a hearing care care professional, preferably one that specializes in senior care. Next, since hearing aids are a considerable expense, when helping the person in your care shop for hearing aids, knowing a few things going in can help you make the right decision.
Hearing aid maintenance 101
After the person in your care has received his hearing aids, depending on his cognitive and fine motor skills, it might fall to you as the caregiver to perform basic cleaning and maintenance tasks on hearing aids. Some things to keep in mind:
Caregiving and hearing loss
As a caregiver to a person with hearing loss, there is much to be considered to make sure the person in your care can hear the world around him and enjoy as much independence as possible. Some general caregiver guidelines to keep in mind are:
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Caregivers face many challenges, and in particular caregivers to those with hearing loss have much to learn. But 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. If you or your loved one needs hearing care or help with a current pair of hearing aids, find a hearing specialist near you with our large directory of consumer-reviewed hearing clinics.