When someone you love has hearing loss, it can make communicating slightly more difficult. They may not understand what you said, hear only bits and pieces or have self-esteem issues making them refrain from communicating at all. When this occurs it can be disheartening, however it is possible to improve communication even though your loved one has age-related hearing loss. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), in the United States, one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss. In addition, half of those over 75 have difficulty hearing. Often, this occurs in both ears and, unfortunately, is gradual, so seniors affected by age-related hearing loss may not even realize it. According to Matthew Sarnelli, Executive Director at YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens, offering Independent Living with Supportive Services, Assisted Living and Memory Care in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, age-related hearing loss can be caused by a number of things. “Most times, it’s simply age that causes seniors’ hearing to decline, but there are still an array of factors that can cause hearing loss,” says Matthew. “Whether your loved one listened to too much loud music when they were younger, worked in a loud factory over the course of many years or simply has hearing loss due to an abnormality in their ears, it’s no reason communication can’t thrive.” Medical conditions can also cause age-related hearing loss, according to the NIDCD. The article states that conditions often found in seniors, like high blood pressure and diabetes, can often contribute to hearing loss, as can certain medications - including those related to chemotherapy. The article states that while it’s not known if you can prevent age-related hearing loss, there are a few ways to tell if you may have a hearing problem. These include:
- Being embarrassed when meeting new people because you struggle to hear them.
- Frustration because you can’t hear your friends, family members or neighbors clearly.
- Difficulty understanding co-workers or clients.
- Issues hearing movies in the theater.
- Arguing with others over hearing issues.
- Trouble hearing the TV or radio at volumes that others can.
- Issues hearing others in louder or public places.
According to the article, if you experience three or more of these issues it might be a good idea to get your hearing checked, as it could signify a problem.
Age-Related Hearing Loss: Tips to Improve Communication
When it comes to age-related hearing loss, it can take a little trial and error to find what works best to improve communication. Try some of the following tips to see if it helps you or your loved one communicate better.
- Make sure friends and family know. While seniors who are dealing with age-related hearing loss may be embarrassed, it’s important that they let others know so they can change how they speak to you. Letting them know can help them to be mindful of covering their mouths when speaking, speaking too quietly or not being clear enough.
- Get your hearing tested. Visiting an audiologist is usually a good idea whenever anyone is dealing with a form of hearing loss. They can help test you and determine exactly what your issue may be. They will also be able to help provide tips and advice to improve your communication, including what actions to take next.
- Try a listening device. Some seniors may be embarrassed when hearing aids are suggested, however, they truly do make a large difference in hearing. According to the NIDCD, there are a few types of hearing aids, which include:
- Behind-the-ear (BTE) and a “mini” BTE
- In-the-ear (ITE)
- In-the-canal (ITC)
- Completely-in-canal (CIC)
- Cochlear implants
- Bone-anchored hearing systems
Each of these serves a different purpose, and depending on you or a loved one’s form of hearing loss, one may work better than another. Your audiologist will be able to guide you in the right direction. If needed, there are also assistive listening devices that can help to amplify sounds on phones, in theaters and places of worship.
- Move to a quieter area. If you or a loved one have difficulty hearing in loud or crowded places, it’s best to move to a quieter area to ensure they can hear and understand you clearly. If this isn’t possible, try to maintain eye contact and speak loudly and clearly enough.
Age-related hearing loss is nothing to be ashamed of, and is often simply a normal sign of aging. With a visit to the audiologist and plan of action, you could be hearing better in no time. For more information, or to learn more ways to improve communication in spite of hearing issues, contact the team at YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens. We would be happy to help you and your loved one communicate better while assisting you both in feeling better about their age-related hearing loss. Contacts us today at 561-246-6102.
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