Helping a Loved One with a Hearing Loss in a Nursing Home
Many of us have loved ones with a hearing loss living in a nursing home or care facility. We ensure their needs are being met, check to see if they are eating well, and tend to urgent medical needs. With so many considerations, hearing health is often overlooked, resulting in frustration, isolation, depression, and cognitive decline. There are many small ways that you can help your loved one take care of their hearing health to avoid these frustrations, and help them hear to the fullest.
Hearing Loss in Nursing Homes
Recent studies indicate that approximately 80 percent of patients in long-term care facilities have a hearing loss. However, the extent of a patient’s hearing loss is often unknown to the staff. A study of 279 nursing home residents showed that just 30 residents had a hearing exam in the past year. 81 percent of the residents received no hearing health care within the past 12 months.
Residents report that the effort to maintain and use their hearing aids in a nursing home environment seems too difficult, resulting in decreased use. Common reasons for avoiding regular use include poor fit, pain, difficulty programming, malfunctioning equipment, or a lack of help from the staff.
Importance of Regular Use
Consistent use of a properly fitted and programmed hearing aid can have far-reaching effects on the health of your loved one. Studies have linked untreated hearing impairments to accelerated rates of brain tissue loss, decreased cognitive function, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. As hearing declines, people are more likely to avoid socialization and are more frequently diagnosed with depression than their hearing-aid wearing counterparts.
Ways to Assist
Your assistance can make a significant impact on your loved one’s likelihood of properly utilizing their heading aid devices. There are a number of ways you can help:
Label hearing aids
Labeling the patient’s initials or name with permanent marker will help the care facility locate the correct owner, should the hearing aid be misplaced. Hearing aids can even be painted with a bright color so they are easy to spot if they fall out.
Provide a small plastic, lidded box for nighttime storage. Routinely storing hearing aids in a safe place will make it easy to locate and use the next morning.
Assist with routine maintenance. Hearing aids should be cleaned regularly with a soft cloth. Check and change batteries as needed.
Schedule and transport to appointments. Regular check-ups and yearly exams are vital to ensure your loved one is using their hearing aids correctly. Helping with scheduling and transportation will ensure that your loved on receives the one-on-one care of their hearing health care provider.As our loved ones are often unable to fully depend on their care facility to meet their hearing healthcare, we must consider how we can help them receive the proper care and maintenance for consistent use.
These quick and easy steps will make a world of difference in their hearing health!