Hearing Loss Isolating Your Senior? How Family Caregivers Can Help

Find yourself repeating things over and over to your senior loved one before they hear what you have to say?

Is the volume of the television in their home so loud you can hear it when you drive up?

Does your senior give you an answer for a question you did not ask?

Maybe the natural hearing loss of aging is progressing more rapidly than you realize and it is time to help your senior loved one take action.

Why Take Action Against Hearing Loss

Many of our senior loved ones experience hearing loss as they age. That is not uncommon. What can be a concern for us is when the hearing loss interferes with daily life.

The senior may be unable to keep up with the conversation so will just stop trying. When this causes seniors to stop being part of the life around them, stop going out with friends, stop attending events or the local senior center or refuse to use the telephone, it is time to take action.

The consequence of hearing loss can be tragic for seniors.  Social isolation can lead to decline in both mental and physical function. Not only can your senior begin withdrawing from life, they are at greater risk of hospitalization, illness, depression and even injury, according to a new study.

Researchers stressed that due to the increasing numbers of senior’s who are experiencing hearing loss resulting in one of these conditions, family caregivers are urged to not chalk it up to aging but treat it as a disease that requires interventions.

Researchers state that hearing loss affects as many as 27 million Americans over age 50, including two-thirds of men and women aged 70 years.

Those are startling numbers, but if it’s our senior loved one then even 1 is a lot!

Obstacles to Intervention

Many seniors don’t want their hearing loss to be identified because they don’t want hearing aids. They don’t want to wear them, as some feel that they are signs of old age and they are convinced they will not help.

Another obstacle to getting hearing aids for seniors, especially those on fixed incomes, is the cost.

  • Hearing aides are not covered by Medicare. The cost of aides and the batteries to operate them are out-of-pocket expenses that many seniors simply don’t feel they can afford.
  • A hearing exam by a hearing specialist is also not covered unless it is related to an injury or trauma.
  • In some states, Medicaid will cover exams and hearing aides but this varies significantly, so you will need to check out what your state offers.
  • If your senior is a veteran and the hearing loss is related to their military service, the hearing aides will likely be covered.
  • Most private insurance carriers do not cover hearing aids or exams either, except in three states where it is required to provide coverage for adults.

What Can You Do?

There are several ways to deal with loved ones’ hearing loss as they age. Will one or more of these help your loved one?

  1. Amplified telephones
  2. Face your senior when you are talking with them
  3. Personal listening systems – audio loop or personal amplifier
  4. Turn off TV or radio when not needed to reduce distractions and background noise to your conversations
  5. TV listening systems
  6. Have family and friends speak louder but not shout
  7. Amplified cell phones
  8. Hearing aids or cochlear implant
  9. Speech and lip reading
  10. Explain to your senior they should watch for visual cues like facial expression and body language

We can help our senior loved ones hear what they are missing, get the help they need and take small steps to stay part of their environment — engaged with those around them. These actions will go a long way to help them stay healthy and happy as long as possible.