Latest posts by Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D. (see all)
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Do you have a loved one with hearing loss who lives in a nursing home? It is important to know that there are useful ways you can provide support, contributing to their care.
- Support hearing loss treatment. Though hearing loss is the third most common chronic medical condition older adults experience, it is widely underdiagnosed. In fact, it is estimated that only one-third of people who could benefit from treatment actually receive it. There is often a delay in treatment because it can be tough to acknowledge changes to hearing health and/or these changes can remain unnoticed because hearing loss typically happens gradually.
One of the most important ways you can support a loved one with hearing loss in a nursing homes ensure that they receive hearing loss treatment. You can do this by talking to them about your experience of their hearing loss and sharing the countless benefits of treatment – strengthens communication, improves relationships, enriches social engagement, and reduces health risks. You can also conduct research to find a quality hearing healthcare provider in your area, schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation, and attend this appointment with them.
- Encourage hearing aid use. Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss. These are electronic devices that provide the ears and brain with significant support, making it easier to hear and process sound. When you think of hearing aids, you likely imagine bulky and seemingly outdated devices. But today’s hearing aids are more varied than ever before. There is an array of options, styles, colors, and features that enable hearing aids to integrate easily into one’s daily life. With hearing aids, there is an adjustment period as the ears and brain are retraining to hear and process sound in this new way. This is different from glasses for example, which you put on and vision is instantly enhanced. It is important to encourage your loved one to always wear their hearing aids and if something about their device is uncomfortable, this should be addressed with their hearing healthcare provider.
- Establish a relationship with nursing home staff. Another useful way you can provide support is by knowing the staff at the nursing home your loved one is in. This offers critical benefits that contribute to your loved one’s care. Establishing a relationship allows you to engage in communication about your loved one’s needs, health, changes they may experience etc. It also allows you to get a better picture of what their daily life in the nursing home is like and to know about ways you can better support them.
- Establish hearing aid maintenance routine. In addition to encouraging hearing aid use, it is also helpful to establish a maintenance routine to best care for them. Hearing aids are highly durable devices but like all instruments that are used constantly, they can be impacted by daily wear and tare. Practicing a daily maintenance routine can prevent damage and support the longevity of the device. This should include:
- Finding somewhere they can store their device. This should be near them so they can easily access their hearing aid when waking up.
- Labeling their hearing aid case so it is clearly and easily identifiable.
- Making sure they have all the supplies needed to thoroughly clean and maintain their device. This should include a dry and soft cloth to wipe down the device, a dehumidifier to dry out their device over night etc.
- Your loved one should clean their device nightly, after removing their hearing aid in preparation for bed.
- Stay up to date on loved one’s hearing needs. Hearing needs can change over time. Be sure to encourage your loved one to have their hearing evaluated yearly. This allows their hearing healthcare provider to assess their needs and ensure that their hearing aid is optimally meeting those needs. You can also do this by regularly checking-in with nursing home staff about your loved one’s hearing and communication. Additionally, having ongoing conversations with your loved one to make sure they are also feeling good about their hearing health is important.