If you think it’s frustrating or annoying to speak with the elderly suffering from a hearing impairment, why not try imagining what it’s like being in their shoes?
Older people with age between 61 to 70 years old are your parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. They are your loved ones. About a third in this age group suffer from hearing loss. Eighty percent aged 85 or older also have a hearing impairment. They deserve compassion and not rejection. And their condition deserves understanding as well as proper medical attention.
Whether you’re living in big cities like LA or smaller ones like Provo, you need to take your loved ones to an ENT practitioner for regular monitoring of their hearing impairment.
Here’s how you can support your loved one:
An Overview of Hearing Loss
Doctors describe two types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural. The entry of sound waves can be impeded when there are infections in the outer or middle ear. This obstruction leads to conductive hearing impairment. If your eardrum becomes damaged or there’s too much earwax buildup, this also negatively affects your hearing.
As you age, inner ear hair cells deteriorate, which causes the sensorineural type of hearing loss. Illnesses like meningitis and certain medications called ototoxic causes this type of hearing loss.
It is ideal to take your loved one to the doctor for screening when they reach the age of 50.
What They Are Going Through
During Thanksgiving dinner, everyone is conversing and telling their stories. Your grandfather sits quietly at the table. He’s become withdrawn and looking sad. People like your grandfather always make an effort to understand the conversations happening around him. But they can’t because of their hearing loss. So never start thinking that it’s an effort for you to converse with someone with hearing loss. They are also making an effort to listen.
You must understand both their emotional and physical difficulties. Older people suffering from hearing loss might feel depressed, retreat from their social life, get angry and irritated, or suffer from poor health.
How to Be Supportive
Be patient and understanding. Those are the first things you need to do. Here are a few more ways to support your loved one with hearing loss:
- Get their attention first and let them see your facial expressions. Reinforce your spoken words with gestures or actions so that it becomes easier to understand what you are communicating.
- Respect their wishes if they don’t feel like having a conversation. They can be emotionally withdrawn, but you need to be sensitive if they wish to have space.
- Read a lot about their condition. Understand the medical description and learn the best way to provide support and intervention. Look for social groups, whether online or offline, that can provide you with pointers as well as the general assurance that you and your loved one aren’t alone in your plight.
- Be proactive in informing your family and friends about their condition. Family members who rarely visit should be informed about ways to positively deal with the person with hearing loss. Be their advocate.
Be ready to help other family members who will suffer the same condition. Be mindful of the signs of possible hearing loss (e.g., problem listening on the phone or repeating things that you said). Talk to your loved one and visit a medical practitioner for screening.