Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health problem among older adults. Studies show that about 33% of adults between the ages of 65 and 75 experience hearing loss.
Frequently, loss of hearing causes a great deal of frustration and anxiety for older adults, negatively impacting their quality of life. While it is difficult to manage, we can do many simple things to help our loved ones with hearing loss better cope with this loss.
Home Struggles with Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can take both a mental and physical toll on our elderly loved ones. They need our support now more than ever as they navigate this difficult time in their life.
Mental Health and Social Isolation
Many older adults feel shame and embarrassment about losing their hearing, causing them to become withdrawn from friends and family to mask this secret. Sometimes, this can cause our loved ones to feel sad, lonely, or even depressed for extended periods.
- Remind a loved one that hearing loss is common and expected.
- Be patient and empathetic with them when communicating. If they ask us to repeat ourselves, we can’t get frustrated or upset – this may make them feel guilty for asking.
- Make yourself easy to talk to by getting their attention first before speaking. Look directly at them and talk loudly, clearly, and with complete sentences.
- Stay engaged and involved in their life. Schedule time with them frequently.
Brain Health and Cognitive Decline
Recent studies suggest that hearing loss in older adults is also associated with cognitive decline. Our loved ones may have trouble thinking about or remembering things, causing them to feel stressed and frustrated. Sometimes, this can even lead to challenging behaviors.
- Place sticky notes around a parent’s home with simple daily reminders. These notes will help them remember to complete tasks they might otherwise forget.
- Break down an aging parent’s tasks into manageable, bite-sized chunks.
- Help a loved one maintain a healthy diet and exercise plan – a healthy body can go a long way in preventing cognitive decline!
- Ensure they have access to stimulating activities to keep their mind active – puzzles, gardening, arts/crafts, and reading can all be beneficial
Coping with Household Struggles
Hearing loss can harm our aging parent’s abilities to live safely and independently in their own homes. Ensure a loved one has the tools they need to maintain their dignity and independence as they experience these life changes.
- If an elderly parent is having trouble hearing their doorbell, consider installing a video doorbell or one that will flash.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with a flashing strobe light to ensure they receive important safety alerts they need.
- Consider buying a vibrating watch as a portable timer.
- Put a telephone amplifier on the phone so that they can enjoy easy access. Bonus: some even include a flashing ringer to alert a loved one when receiving a call.