How to Help a Senior Cope With Hearing Loss

Do you know a senior who’s suffering from hearing loss? While hearing loss can occur at any age, it’s most common among seniors. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), roughly one in three U.S. adults aged 65 to 74 suffers from some degree of hearing loss. In seniors aged 75 and older, rates of hearing loss is even higher. While you can’t always prevent hearing loss from occurring, there are ways to help seniors cope with this otherwise common condition.

Look for the Signs of Hearing Loss

Unfortunately, many cases of hearing loss in seniors go unnoticed. This is due to the fact that hearing loss occurs gradually over an extended period. Regardless of age, a person typically won’t suffer from severe hearing loss overnight. It’s a gradual medical condition that slowly worsens over time. As a result, you’ll need to know the signs of hearing loss so that you can determine if a senior is truly suffering from it.

Some of the most common signs of hearing loss include the following:

  • Turning up the volume of televisions, radios and other audio devices to an excessively high level.
  • Not responding to questions.
  • Muffled or distorted sense of hearing.
  • Difficulty maintaining conversations with other people.
  • Asking people to repeat themselves during conversations.

See a Doctor

As with other medical conditions, any senior who’s suffering from hearing loss should see a doctor for a professional diagnosis. Only a doctor can determine whether a senior is truly suffering from hearing loss, and if so, the degree to which he or she is suffering from it.

There are doctors who specialize in hearing loss and other hearing-related medical conditions. Known as otolaryngologists, they can provide a professional diagnosis. If you have a senior family member or friend whom you believe is suffering from hearing loss, encourage him or her to see an otolaryngologist.

Eliminate Unnecessary Background Noise

You can help a senior cope with hearing loss by eliminating unnecessary background noise in his or her living space. When there’s background noise present, the senior will have a harder time listening to, as well as interpreting, other sounds.

A common source of background noise is televisions. As previously mentioned, seniors who suffer from hearing loss often turn up the volume on their television to an excessively high level. In turn, this creates loud background noise while making it difficult for the senior to hear.

Enable Closed Captions on Devices

Seniors who suffer from hearing loss often have trouble watching TV shows, movies and other videos. Media such as this typically uses audio. When suffering from hearing loss, seniors may have trouble listening to the audio.

Because hearing loss is so common, though, most media companies support closed captions with their respective TV shows, movies and videos. Closed captions, as you may know, is a transcript of audio. When enabled on a device, it will show a text version of the media’s audio – typically at the bottom. Enabling captions on the senior’s television and devices will allow him or her to enjoy media without needing to hear it.

Maintain Eye Contact When Conversing

When conversing with a senior who’s suffering from hearing loss, try to maintain eye contact. Talking with your back turned to the senior means he or she won’t be able to see your face. Therefore, the senior will have a harder time interpreting your words.

Maintaining eye contact with the senior provides him or her with visual cues that can assist with the interpretation of your spoken words. Whether you realize it or not, we all use visual cues to interpret spoken words. When you’re talking to another person, he or she will observe your face to determine what words you are saying. Seniors do this as well. For seniors with hearing loss, however, maintaining eye contact is particularly important since they have trouble hearing.

Improve Your Tone

In addition to maintaining eye contact, improving the tone in which you speak can help the senior understand you better. If you don’t loud enough, conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that the senior will have a harder time hearing you.

You’ll need to talk both loudly and clearing when conversing with a senior who’s suffering from hearing loss. Don’t mumble your words. Rather, make a point to strongly pronounce your words so that the header can understand what you are saying.

Consider a Hearing Aid

There are hearing aid devices available that can help seniors cope with hearing loss. There are two primary types of hearing aids: inner and outer. Inner hearing aids are worn inside the ear, whereas outer hearing aids are worn outside of the ear. Regardless, they both work by enhancing sounds.

A hearing aid is useful for seniors who suffer from hearing loss because it enhances sounds. When worn, a hearing aid will make sounds louder and, therefore, for easier for the senior to hear. To determine which hearing aid works best, the senior should consult with a doctor, preferably an otolaryngologist who specializes in hearing loss.

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